08 September, 2018
Even before the announcement of Morton's departure, the company's shares were already seeing a slight decline in Friday's pre-market trading as reports of Elon Musk's behavior in a podcast with comedian Joe Rogan emerged. Last month, Tesla's founder tweeted about plans to take the company private. The company's 5.3% bonds dropped 1.75c to 84c on the dollar, a record low, according to Trace bond price data.
"I'm not a regular smoker of weed", Musk said. At one point, Musk took a brief pull on a blunt Rogan said contained cannabis and tobacco. Yet the incident could revive questions about whether Musk is the right person to lead Tesla.
When The New York Times asked Musk if he was smoking when he made the tweet, Musk replied, "Weed is not helpful for productivity".
One of Wall Street's prominent short sellers, Andrew Left, has filed a class-action lawsuit, accusing electric auto maker Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk of trying to "burn" investors with "objectively false tweets".
Later he says he does not notice any effect from the joint and claims he rarely smokes.
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Morton, who joined Tesla on August 6, was quoted in a company filing on Friday saying he believes "strongly" in Tesla and that he had no disagreements with the company's leadership or its financial reporting. "This caused me to reconsider my future".
That move, described in a company blog with several other promotions as a result of board and management discussions, gives Musk a seasoned auto industry veteran to lean on at a time when some investors have called for a new chief operating officer.
"I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla's leadership or its financial reporting", Morton wrote in his statement today.
Moody's Investor Service downgraded Tesla's debt into junk territory in March, warning that the Palo Alto firm will not have cash to cover $3.7 billion (€3.2bn) for normal operations, capital expenses and debt that comes due early next year.
Morton is a veteran in the tech sector, serving as the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Seagate before starting his employment at Tesla. Morton couldn't immediately be reached for comment.