If Tesla's share price is a war, Twitter is the battleground.
The conflict pits Tesla's celebrity chief executive and its shareholders, who tend to tag their tweets with the tickertag $TSLA, versus a rag-tag band of shortsellers who tag posts with $TSLAQ. (The Q is a common stock-exchange notation for when a company is bankrupt. See this excellent LA Times piece for all the details on this semi-anoymous group of sleuths.)
While old-fashioned bull-versus-bear arguments were once the purview of Wall Street bars and boardrooms, Twitter's rage-as-a-service platform has seen these conversations spill out into the open. And, some would argue, with added ferocity.
Don't believe us that its mad? Login to Jack Dorsey's platform now and type $TSLAQ in the search. The first tweet that comes up for Alphaville spuriously compares Theranos-founder Elizabeth Holmes and Elon Musk. The second is a post claiming, via drone shots, that the parking lot at Tesla's Palo Alto headquarters has potentially doubled up as a storage space for inventory.
It's bonkers. And strangely captivating. Like that Jodorowsky film that you were once forced to watch by an art school friend because of its “surreal qualities”.
But how bonkers?
Well, thanks to data provided by Sentieo, we now can track the great Tesla Twitter wars in real time.
So here's a chart of every tweet tagged with $TSLA and $TSLAQ over the past year, along with their 30 day moving averages (right click to embiggen):
Elon Musk has often complained about the negative media sentiment around the company. For example, just twelve hours ago he vilified Elektrek journalist and Tesla-owner Fred Lambert for kowtowing to the "social media trolls" in his recent articles:
But it seems mentions of $TSLA still outweigh the short-selling cabal of $TSLAQ.
With analyst expectations low for earnings tonight after the bell, expect another spike in mentions on the social media platform that all of us secretly wish didn't exist. Particularly if the past conference calls are anything to go by.
The crowdsourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn — LA Times
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