The GameStop saga is a generational clash and a referendum on who controls the markets, pitting an army of retail investors — many of them young digital natives — against hedge fund short-sellers, who had bet that GameStop stock would fall. And in this war, Mr. Musk is most assuredly not rooting for Wall Street.
A self-made billionaire, Mr. Musk has a particular animus for short sellers. For years, powerful investors bet that Tesla stock would fall. In 2018, that pressure, combined with production glitches at Tesla and a personal life in tumult, pushed Mr. Musk to the brink. He said on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 a share, and railed against short sellers in an emotional interview with The New York Times.
On Thursday, as some trading platforms restricted investors from buying GameStop shares — a move that helped short sellers — Mr. Musk tweeted that “shorting is a scam legal only for vestigial reasons.” A representative for Mr. Musk declined to make him available for an interview.
In other tweets, he supported calls to make short selling illegal, and got behind Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s calls for an inquiry into Robinhood, one of the apps that restricted investors from buying GameStop stock.
“Here come the shorty apologists,” he wrote in yet another message. “Give them no respect Get Shorty.”
It was hardly the polished prose preferred by most chief executives, but Mr. Musk speaks the language of the web.
“Twitter’s algorithms love one-word responses that inspire a lot of rage or affection,” said Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University. “Elon Musk is sort of the master of that.”
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