Stock Market Can't Resist Tech Celebrities' Tweets

The Tesla CEO's tweets are capable of generating hashtags, memes, and even temporary spikes in the price of company shares. 

John McDuling over at Quartz wrote a keen piece today about Tesla & SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's superhuman abilities to send Twitter abuzz in 140 characters or fewer. McDuling focuses in particular on the internet's reaction to the following tweet:


Major new Tesla product line -- not a car -- will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015

Ever the intrepid journalists, we at Big Think have obtained exclusive video footage of Twitter's approximate collective reaction:

Okay, so that's actually Beatlemania from 50 years ago, but it's an apt substitute for the cumulative twists and shouts of the collected Twitterati upon Musk's sudden proclamation. As McDuling notes, the Tesla company isn't commenting on the product announcement, making Musk's message all the more delectable to those begging for scraps from the entrepreneur's e-table.

Musk knows how to build hype; that's not groundbreaking news. Heck, the guy's trying to shoot people to Mars. It doesn't get much more hype than that. But as McDuling explains, Musk's twittering thumbs affect a lot more than just abstract excitement:

"His tweet appears to have delivered a boost to the Tesla share price. The stock is up by as much as 3% today, and before the tweet, was trading in negative territory."

Let's state first that Musk isn't tweeting with the express intent to manipulate stock prices. There's no reason for him to do it. What benefit does he get from a brief spike? What's really fascinating here is just how much power is held within the man's Twitter account. McDuling writes that there's no solid proof of correlation between Musk's tweets and stock price jumps — sure, it's not definite or set in stone — but he does provide several examples of Tesla-related tweets that preceded daily increases of at least 2.9 percent. No one would deny that if Apple's Tim Cook tweeted today that iPhone 35 (or whatever number we're on right now) was dropping on Friday, the internet would erupt like a digital Vesuvius. 

So what's the take-away here? First, the hawk eyes of the internet are intently focused on folks like Musk and Cook. These are the men who make decisions that could instantaneously change the shape of the tech industry or the way we perceive it. Never before Twitter has something existed that could so quickly and publicly spur change. Let's hope for everyone's sake that Musk's account password isn't "password."

Second, even if Musk doesn't intend for his tweeting to play the market like a violin, this sort of thing could become a bigger topic in the near future. Only time will tell how new forms of digital communication grow alongside stock exchanges.

Finally, McDuling thinks the product referenced in Musk's tweet is "[a] battery that can be used to power a home," which is an Ideafeed post for another day.  

When he's not reaching for the stars, making electric cars, or tweeting up a storm, Musk is also a Big Think expert. Here's a preview of an exclusive lesson available only on Big Think Edge.

Read more at Quartz.

Photo credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock

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