Getting to host Saturday Night Live was clearly a lifetime dream. Too bad it’s turned into a nightmare for his fans.
Anticipation was high. Elon Musk was going to host Saturday Night Live and given his erratic social media persona there was a sense that anything could happen.
The billionaire would give away free money, Teslas or rocket rides to lampoon Oprah and her golden age stunts, some hoped.
Others, closer to the market, braced for some impromptu announcement that would move Tesla stock, crypto currencies or even Wall Street itself.
It was going to be “epic.”
But Musk didn’t deliver any gifts to either investors or comedy fans. The episode wasn’t terrific or even weird in a good way.
And with the spotlight fixed on his every gesture, simply failing to dazzle the audience on Saturday quickly translated into a dazzling failure.
Tesla stock hasn’t caught a lift since. It’s down $70 a share, erasing 11% of Musk’s paper fortune in the process.
Crypto markets felt the disappointment right away. When Musk quipped at the crowd that digital currency is a “hustle,” Dogecoin started dropping.
From that moment, DOGE is now down 30%. Its holders are $24 billion poorer on paper than they were Saturday evening.
Add it up, at least $40 billion evaporated around Musk’s star turn. Is he to blame? He hasn’t done a lot to reinforce confidence since the big TV moment.
The “Bigger Fan” Theory
Elon doesn’t get paid to push DOGE. As far as we know, he doesn’t even have a significant personal stake in the currency.
But its fans look at him as their advocate and cheerleader. That’s probably not healthy or helpful in the long run.
Elon likes DOGE. He thinks it’s fun and funny. He thinks a lot of things are fun and funny.
Even casually linking an asset’s value to his moods is not going to work out well in the long run. He’ll wander off. He’ll lose interest.
Or the power of his personal “reality distortion field” will hit a limit and the asset will need to find some other source of support.
Buy the currency because you like the informal pitchman and you’re basically gambling on his influence being persuasive to more people than yourself.
That’s only a variant on the “bigger fool” argument that you’ll always be able to find someone willing to buy trash at a higher price. In this circumstance, you’re bullish on DOGE because you like Elon and think other people will come around who like him more than you do.
Remember, there’s no scarcity limit on DOGE or penalty for coming to the party late.
Even if people like Elon an infinite amount, they’ll only pay up to what they can afford right now. That number is never going to go up.
And if their affection for Elon takes a hit, the math down from “infinite” gets savage. The currency isn’t as cool as it was a week ago. Its “epic” appeal has deteriorated.
Can the hype recover? Probably. But it’s always going to be a rollercoaster.
The CEO Celebrity
Tesla shareholders, on the other hand, have a right to feel a little frustrated.
Hosting SNL eats up at least 12 hours of the host’s time for high-level sketch development and rehearsals. The total commitment can stretch to most of the week.
For working celebrities, that’s literally all in a day’s work. Their job is appearing in public.
But running the seventh-biggest U.S. public company is a little different. You need to be engaged and on call all the time.
Even when you’re on vacation or asleep, you’re never really off duty. And when you’re distracted from the corporate mission, you’re diverting limited resources from that work.
While Elon’s TV adventure was relatively benign, the effort could have probably gone into telling the Tesla story more effectively.
He hasn’t done a lot of that lately. The most recently quarterly call started late and was disjointed when it got underway. He wasn’t on point.
When the CEO isn’t on point, a normal company finds someone else. The problem here is that Elon has ironclad control over Tesla.
They can’t easily dislodge him for someone who is 100% committed to Wall Street and operational progress.
Jobs, Bezos and Gates never appeared on SNL. They were impersonated to great satiric effect.
If you’re more interested in playing yourself on SNL than talking to Wall Street or hitting operational goals, you should probably think about retiring to pursue outside interests.