How much trouble is Elon Musk in?
The reason is simple: When companies make promises, shareholders count on them. And when companies fail to deliver, it can cause legal trouble.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking at Musk's tweet earlier this month that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private. Musk's surprise announcement briefly sent the stock soaring.
Musk later explained that he was talking about a meeting he had had with officials of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. He said he left the meeting with "no question" that a deal could be closed.
But he gave no indication - and still hasn't - that he had "secured" funding.
Regulators are reportedly looking at other Tesla promises, too.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the SEC has subpoenaed a Tesla parts supplier in a probe into whether it misled investors last year about production of the Model 3, Tesla's least expensive electric car.
Musk originally projected the company would turn out 1,500 of them in the third quarter of last year, but it built only 260. Tesla expected to ramp up to 5,000 per week by the end of 2017, but it took six months longer.
It's possible the SEC inquiries result in no sanctions. But Musk could face a range of penalties if the SEC determines he was purposely deceptive in his tweet, or his predictions about the Model 3.
Those penalties range from a slap on the wrist to a fine to a ban on serving as an officer of a publicly traded company. The ban could be temporary or permanent, though experts say the latter is extremely unlikely.
"The SEC wants cases where the deception is black-and-white," said Brad Bennett, a securities lawyer who was formerly director of enforcement for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. "It doesn't want a case where things that turn on his selection of vocabulary."
Those are all civil penalties. Criminal charges are reserved for officers who are accused of repeatedly and willfully presenting false information.
But even if the SEC doesn't find he crossed the line, Musk and Tesla face legal problems from shareholder suits.
Investors have already filed two lawsuits against Tesla over Musk's "funding secured" tweet.
And a class-action suit filed by investors in federal court last year questions the Model 3 projections.
Tesla argues in that case that the Model 3 forecasts were within reach at the time, and that it even warned the task would be difficult. Tesla is seeking to have the suit thrown out; a hearing is set in San Francisco for the end of this month.
Beyond the legal problems, Tesla is at risk of losing some potential customers who are apparently frustrated with the company's failure to keep its promises.
Customers have to put down a refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve a Model 3, then pay $2,500 more when the time comes to choose the specific version they want to buy.
More than 300,000 customers put down the deposits during the first week that Tesla accepted orders, in April 2016. Now customers are increasingly seeking refunds, according to Rajvindra Gill, an analyst for Needham & Co.
Tesla denied a claim by Gill that refunds were outpacing new deposits for the Model 3. And this month it reported that the amount of money held on deposit from customers rose during the second quarter, suggesting that new orders are still increasing.
Tesla declined to comment on the reports of the various SEC probes, as did the agency.
- CNNMoney's Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.
JPMorgan dramatically slashes Tesla's stock price forecast
At least that's what JPMorgan Chase thinks. The Wall Street firm dramatically slashed its price target on Elon Musk's car company on Monday, causing Tesla shares to briefly tumble.
In a critical research report, JPMorgan analyst Ryan Brinkman wrote that it's "premature" to value Tesla based on a go-private deal that may or may not ever happen.
Musk tweeted on August 7 that funding for a takeover at $420 a share "has been secured." JPMorgan believes that recent events show that funding has not been secured -- "nor was there any formal proposal."
By valuing Tesla on "fundamentals alone," the stock should sink to $195 by December, Brinkman wrote. That's 35% below current levels.
It's a stunning reversal. JPMorgan set its previous price target of $308 on August 8 based on Musk's optimism about a go-private deal.
JPMorgan noted that Musk's own statements create doubt about how close Tesla is to reaching a go-private deal financed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.
In a blog post last week, Musk wrote that "it was just a matter of getting the process moving" with the Saudis.
Those comments suggest that while a deal is "clearly possible," the process is "much less developed than we had earlier presumed," JPMorgan wrote.
Tesla's wild ride
Musk's tweet set in motion a strange series of events for Tesla. The stock spiked as high as $387.46 -- and then plunged. The SEC reportedly launched an investigation into Musk's statements. And Musk gave a tearful interview to The New York Times describing 120-hour work weeks and his use of Ambien to sleep.
As much as a quarter of Tesla's market value has vanished since Musk's initial tweet about going private. Investors are voicing skepticism about the electric car maker's ability to make good on Musk's proposal -- but they're also worried about Musk in general.
"Investors are likely most concerned about Musk's overall mindset and burn out in addition to the use of Ambien and possibly other drugs," analyst Gene Munster wrote to clients on Friday.
Even Arianna Huffington penned an open letter urging the Tesla CEO to slow down. Musk responded -- in a 2:30 a.m. PT tweet -- by saying slowing down is not an option.
"Ford & Tesla are the only 2 American car companies to avoid bankruptcy. I just got home from the factory," Musk tweeted.
Tesla has repeatedly proved its doubters wrong. Since going public in 2010, Tesla has revolutionized the auto industry and accelerated the adoption of electric cars. While the company has struggled to turn a profit, its share price has skyrocketed. Now valued at $52 billion, Tesla is worth more than either Ford or General Motors.
But Tesla's goal of rapidly building affordable cars for mass markets has proven difficult. The company has been forced to raise money and take on vast amounts of debt while attempting to meet aggressive goals.
Tesla's expansion into high-volume segments "seems fraught with greater risk," JPMorgan wrote.
Twitter CEO commits to fixing the platform's 'toxic' content problem, but gives no timetable
Dorsey says he and his team are working extensively behind the scenes to stamp out some of the harassment and hate speech that has generated bad headlines lately.
But it is a long-term effort, he says, and he is reluctant to commit to an exact timetable for certain changes to Twitter's foundation.
In twelve years, "we've changed a lot. But we haven't changed the underlying fundamentals," Dorsey told CNN in an in-depth interview at the company's headquarters on Friday.
The basic fundamentals are what he is examining now. For instance: What does Twitter incentivize its users to do?
"Every product decision we make is 'telling' them to do something," Dorsey said.
So he is thinking about how to help users follow topics and hashtags, not just people.
"We are aware of some of the silos and how we're isolating people by only giving them crude tools to follow accounts. We need to broaden our thinking and get more back to an interest-based network," he said.
Dorsey is also rethinking how follower counts and "likes" on posts are displayed, because the race to gain followers and likes may encourage outrageous behavior.
His view is that Twitter needs to be much more "transparent" and open about its actions. But that transparency, some of which was on display during Dorsey's media tour this month, means asking questions without actually answering them.
Among the questions Dorsey asked in the CNN interview: "How do we earn peoples' trust?" and "How do we guide people back to healthy conversation?"
While he may get credit for asking big, philosophical questions about how his site operates, Dorsey remains vulnerable to criticism about Twitter's inaction.
He responded to that by saying "we are taking a lot more action than we ever have in the past." But much of the action is invisible to users, he asserted.
For example: The disabling of bot networks and other suspicious accounts. Dorsey said Twitter challenges "10 million accounts every single week to see if they're automations or humans," and takes action accordingly.
But Twitter's stock plunged last month when its quarterly earnings report showed a decline in user growth, which the company attributed to its efforts to clean up the site, akin to gardeners removing weeds.
Nonetheless, Dorsey is committed to what he calls "conversational health" -- the quality of an exchange on Twitter -- which he is trying to measure with the help of two research groups. He said investors should take a look at the long-term trends: "We see this as necessary and right and we believe in it and we have conviction around it, and we'll take the hit in the short term."
He also asserted that "over the short term, a lot of this work is invisible, and over the long term, it starts to add up."
As for some of the specific changes, like a rethinking of the like button, Dorsey was reluctant to talk about a timeline.
"We're looking and thinking about all these things right now," he said. So: By the end of the year? "I worry about a time frame like that," he said, "because we also need to take into consideration -- we're a small company. I mean we, in comparison with our peers, we're a small company, but we have this outsized impact and I believe, importance."
Later, he added, "We have to understand first the problem we're trying to solve, like what incentives we actually want to drive; not just what we want to remove, but what we want to drive." But he said he knows he wants incentives "that encourage people to talk and to have healthy conversation."
Fitbit Charge 3 is a waterproof smartwatch disguised as a fitness tracker
Whenever I got tired of my Fitbit, Samsung Gear Fit, Garmin Vivosport or whatever was wrapped around my wrist, I'd toss it in the box. I never found a reason to wear a tracker for more than a few months. I'd get my heart rate, confirm I need more sleep at night, and burn a predictable sum of calories with every run. Before long, I'd know what my health tracker would tell me, so I'd stop wearing it and move on.
I am hardly alone. And that's a problem for Fitbit and other companies selling these devices.
"The market has a bit of fitness tracker fatigue," said Weston Henderek, an expert on the topic at market research firm NDP Group. "A couple of years ago, wearing a tracker seemed like a very trendy thing to do. The category is still growing, but people are gravitating toward smartwatches."
Eager to reverse that trend, companies are making fitness trackers sleeker and packing them with features like notifications, audio streaming and longer battery life. Giving people more data about their health could also make the devices attractive to employers and health insurers.
Fitbit's Charge 3 tracker, announced Monday and previewed by CNN last week, checks all those boxes. It's so light you may forget it's there, it runs for seven days on a charge, and the design doesn't scream, "Yes, I am counting my steps!"
Fitbit calls the Charge 3 the Ferrari of fitness trackers. I'd say it's a Toyota Camry: Nice enough on the eyes, dependable, and, at $149, relatively affordable when they hit store shelves in October.
And, like a Camry, you can choose a few upgrades. The base comes in black or rose gold, and you can choose a $30 silicone band from a rainbow of colors. Pay a bit more and you get an upscale mesh or leather band. You can also get one that supports Fitbit Pay for $169.
The water-resistant Charge 3 sheds the cumbersome tap-to-navigate interface of earlier models in favor of an intuitive touchscreen. And the nearly invisible haptic feedback button on the side is a nice upgrade from the slab protruding from the Fitbit Charge 2. It supports more push notifications, tracks laps in the pool, and lets you set fitness goals like burning 300 calories during a workout or shedding 10 pounds.
But the Charge 3 lacks built-in wireless connectivity, so you'll need to have your phone nearby to use some features like GPS. That's bad news anyone who wants to track running routes without schlepping their smartphone, but Fitbit said adding GPS would have meant a clunkier device and a shorter battery life -- two things consumers definitely don't want. If you want on-board GPS, the Ionic costs $249.
All of this is standard fare for fitness trackers. What sets the Charge 3 apart is the Sp02 sensor -- shorthand for peripheral capillary oxygen saturation. It measures your blood oxygen level. Coupled with Fitbit's heart rate tracker and sleep monitoring, the trifecta provides a snapshot of your overall health. An analysis feature notes any unusual developments in your data, like a high heart rate, and makes related suggestions, such as trying a meditation app to reduce stress.
The truly noteworthy thing about the new Fitbit is the price. The Garmin Fenix 5x features a similar blood oxygen sensor, but costs $649. Offering so much for so little could expand the Charge 3's appeal to more people, and even businesses.
"Some insurance companies and employers give away or discount these devices to employees and ultimately help lower healthcare costs," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC. The lower price makes that easier to do, he said, and companies might even buy them in bulk, driving prices down further.
Fitness trackers caught on quickly, jumping from 3 million sold in 2013 to an impressive 45 million last year. But it will be slow going from now on, even if health care providers start handing out fitness trackers. IDC expects Fitbit, Garmin and all the rest to sell 47 million devices a year by 2021.
Apple holds 22% of the market, due largely to growing interest in smartwatches and advanced features like cellular connectivity. Fitbit trails behind at 14% with Xiaomi not far behind.
"Many players have already exited or aren't as prominent, so the company is in a good position to gain a larger share," Urbani said.
And with all those added features, the Charge 3 might not end up buried in a box.