On August 7, Elon Musk broke the internet when he dropped this bombshell of a tweet:
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1533660493.0
Announcing Tesla was going private was huge news that sent its stock skyrocketing and investors scrambling. There's just one problem: that funding, which you may remember Musk claiming had been "secured," may not be so "secured." As soon as the internet found out, the phrase was given the meme treatment.
Perhaps the most notable burn came from Urban Dictionary, a comedy "dictionary" that defines slang terms in hilariously honest ways. As of now, the definition for "funding secured" reads:
Me to my new girl: 'Taking you to Hawaii this winter. Funding secured,'" followed by the hashtags #money #funds #budget #broke #bankrupt.
But the good folks at Urban Dictionary weren't the only ones to pile on Musk's over-confident tweet. Twitter's funding was also secured!
Am considering getting @dominos delivery tonight. Funding secured.— ฿ully esq. (@฿ully esq.) 1533662345.0
Am considering taking the wife to dinner tonight. Funding secured.— Matthew Argersinger (@Matthew Argersinger) 1533669508.0
Am considering going to Chipotle. Funding secured.— Scott Galloway (@Scott Galloway) 1533669190.0
Some non-human companies even got in on the joke!
Lunchtime and I'm getting a LARGE fry. Funding secured.— Carl's Jr. (@Carl's Jr.) 1533753002.0
Are considering changing all Busch Light packaging to say Busch Latte. Funding secured.— Busch Beer (@Busch Beer) 1533742360.0
Considering taking this joke viral. Funding secured.
BREAKING: I'm considering taking a grande latte for $4.20. Funding secured.— Ivan the K™ (@Ivan the K™) 1533661567.0
Heading to @Wawa for a late night snack. Funding secured.— Quoth the Raven (@Quoth the Raven) 1533690079.0
Am considering taking a sandwich private at 12:15. Funding secured.— Jim Prosser 🖖 (@Jim Prosser 🖖) 1533663079.0
Musk has continued to insist taking his company private is a viable option, later tweeting:
Investor support is confirmed. Only reason why this is not certain is that it’s contingent on a shareholder vote. https://t.co/bIH4Td5fED— Elon Musk (@Elon Musk) 1533670575.0
But, despite Musk's bravado, the "funding secured" tweet has put him and Tesla in serious legal jeopardy. Since his "announcement," which reportedly blind-sighted several members of the Tesla board, four separate lawsuits alleging securities fraud have been filed by investors. Basically, if Musk claimed he had funding secured when he did not, he's manipulating investors illegally.
Tesla stock dives 8% after a tearful Elon Musk interview and a report of an earlier SEC investigation… https://t.co/3R00I8MmMB— Los Angeles Times (@Los Angeles Times) 1534526416.0
If the SEC ends up interviewing Azealia Banks as part of an investigation into Tesla and Elon, I will never use the internet again.— Ryan Mac (@Ryan Mac) 1534184991.0
@latimes Going down. https://t.co/852wmj7SOm— M. Jennings (@M. Jennings) 1534526639.0
Musk and Tesla are now the subject of an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is focusing in on whether Musk's tweet may have been an intentional effort to hurt short-sellers (investors who sell stock they've borrowed from a third party, only to buy it back at a lower price and return it to the owner while pocketing the difference), whom Musk has decried in the past.
"[Musk] said he was bracing for 'at least a few months of extreme torture from short-sellers, who are desperately p… https://t.co/kZYCfPyHut— Roddy Boyd (@Roddy Boyd) 1534519764.0
"He blamed short-sellers — investors who bet that Tesla’s shares will lose value — for much of his stress. He said… https://t.co/J0MlSnpbCq— Investor Gator 🇺🇸 (@Investor Gator 🇺🇸) 1534511313.0
Tesla would’ve been a huge success if weren’t for those pesky short sellers https://t.co/wyaCKZJewm— Simon Shear (@Simon Shear) 1534484380.0
It seems Musk will go to some pretty extreme lengths to escape the nefarious short-sellers—perhaps even lie about having funding secured to take his company private. The SEC investigation into Musk will continue as lawsuits proceed. As pressure mounts on Musk to recuse himself from Tesla going public, he's announced he will not be doing that. Musk will also be staying on as CEO of the company, unless of course he's brought down by some sort of legal action.