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Tesla Stock Tumbles Again, Following CEO Elon Musk's 'NYT' Interview

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Tesla stock tumbled again today by almost 9 percent. The decline came on the heels of CEO Elon Musk's wide-ranging interview with The New York Times in which he talked about being exhausted and often sleep deprived. Here's NPR's Jasmine Garsd.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Excruciating - that's how CEO Elon Musk described the last year at Tesla to The New York Times. Investors might agree. As Tesla attempts to become a mass automaker, his antics have overshadowed the car itself. Musk's erratic behavior on Twitter took a risky turn when he recently tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla private at $420 a share - funding secured, he assured. The tweets sent Tesla's stock skyrocketing.

Musk has said he was referring to a potential investment by Saudi Arabia and that going private would allow Tesla to get rid of short sellers. See, if to his cult following, Musk is a genius trying to curb our oil dependency, then his arch-enemies are the short sellers, the investors who profit when the company's stock tanks. But the tweets might have raised a red flag with regulators. Here's former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt on CNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HARVEY PITT: If his comments were issued for the purpose of moving the price of the stock, that could be manipulation. It could also be security fraud.

GARSD: There are widespread reports that the SEC is investigating Tesla over Musk's tweets earlier this month. Both the SEC and Tesla declined to comment. Gene Munster works at Loup, a venture capital company that follows Tesla. He says investors are worried.

GENE MUNSTER: The company needs to be more aggressive at taking steps to see that Elon gets help - both from a business operational standpoint and personally - that he doesn't have this weight on his shoulders.

GARSD: Munster says he still believes in Tesla, but...

MUNSTER: We want Elon to really get off of Twitter.

GARSD: In other words, the car is a great idea, but just put down the phone. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOT SUGAR'S "COFFIN IN THE CLOUDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.