Over the years, Elon Musk has disrupted entrenched players in the aerospace, energy, and automotive industries. He's also had a hand in trying to reduce "soul-crushing traffic" and building a healthy symbiosis with AI. In short, he thinks big. Musk also has had a profound impact on the finance sector. And we're not just talking about his first company PayPal — Musk is a major figure on Wall Street.
In a recent video, Wall Street Journal reporter Caitlin Ostroff admits that Elon Musk can "move markets" based on his growing influence on the investment community at large. Most of Musk's recent attention revolves around his Twitter account where 57 million followers track his every move. He's been particularly active pontificating on a polarizing topic, cryptocurrencies.
Wall Street Journal's Akane Otani notes, "The Tesla chief executive’s often-cryptic messages have sent bitcoin’s price on a roller-coaster ride this year. Prices soared nearly 20% one January morning when he added '#bitcoin' to his Twitter biography. They jumped 16% in a single day the following month after Tesla Inc. revealed it bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency."
"Then, he tweeted earlier this month that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin as payment for its vehicles. Investors widely blame the tweet for starting bitcoin’s most punishing selloff of the year... bitcoin prices have fallen some 50%, including roughly 40% since Mr. Musk’s May tweet," Otani writes.
Is this phenomenon just relegated to the Tesla CEO? Otani reminds us, "Mr. Musk isn’t alone in influencing markets through social media. Throughout the past year, public figures from investment managers to chief executives and celebrities have taken to platforms like Twitter, Reddit and audio-discussion app Clubhouse to voice their thoughts on everything from cryptocurrencies to 'meme stocks.' Some, like star portfolio manager Cathie Wood, have impressed followers with their market acumen."
Above: A look at Elon Musk's influence on investors, especially surrounding the crypto markets (YouTube: Wall Street Journal)
And looking back at the history of finance-related influencers reveals that this trend has always been pervasive on Wall Street. "Back in the 1960s, investors were enthralled with fund manager Gerald Tsai, whose knack for constructing market-beating mutual funds turned him into a star. Others remember avidly following the writings of Peter Lynch, whose Fidelity Magellan fund outperformed 99.5% of all other funds in his final five years of running it. And of course, there are few today who wouldn’t know of Warren Buffett (or, as his fans call him, the Oracle of Omaha)," Otani writes.
In today's day and age, it's Elon Musk. "There’s a rebellious aspect that I think Musk himself really personifies, particularly when he takes to Twitter,” explains Peter Atwater, an adjunct lecturer of economics at The College of William & Mary. And over the years, short sellers have certainly felt the wrath of Elon Musk as they’ve tried to downplay Tesla’s impact in the auto sector.
In his opening monologue on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live, Musk reminded everyone that his rebel posture on Twitter shouldn't surprise anyone. “To anyone I’ve offended, I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars in a rocket ship. Did you think I was also going to be a chill, normal dude?” he said.
Regardless of Musk's influence on crypto or meme stocks, one thing remains clear. He tirelessly works to build on Tesla's success. If he can move markets with a few throw-away tweets in the evasive world of crypto — imagine what he can do with 100-hour work weeks pushing hard to create a sustainable future with electric cars and clean energy.