Tag Archives: CEO

Elon Musk and His Public Statements

Posted by Surya Makkar.

Over the past few years, Tesla has emerged as a frontrunner when it comes to electric vehicle technology. Their technology packed, self-driving, vehicles have come with their fair share of problems however. Not only has Tesla faced legal obstacles when it comes to their various technologies they use in their products, but more recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Elon Musk was accused of committing fraud by publically making false statements, which could have impacted investors. To give some background, around a month ago, Elon Musk tweeted saying that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420. Something interesting to note is that the SEC did not sue Tesla as a whole, but rather only filed a suit against Elon Musk.

Elon Musk had never said anything before this to investors or shareholders about taking the company private, which is why everyone was caught off guard and was extremely shocked. After the suit was filed, Tesla shares fell more than 12 percent in after-hours trading. The SEC subpoenaed Tesla, financial institutions, and Tesla board members, to interview them and gather more information. The SEC found that Musk had been in a feud with investors who continued to say Tesla shares would fall.
A few days later, Musk and the SEC reached an agreement that required Elon to step down as Chairman of the board of Tesla and required him to pay a $20 million fine. According to the agreement, Musk does not have to admit any guilt and has 45 days to step down from the role of chairman. He will continue to serve as the CEO of Tesla however. This case goes to show how business professionals are being watched at every moment. One wrong move in the business world can lead to millions of dollars of legal action being taken against you, which is why it is imperative that people in the business world act as if they are being watched at all times.

Surya is a business law student at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2021.

Sources:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/business/elon-musk-sec-lawsuit-tesla.html

https://electrek.co/2018/09/29/elon-musk-settles-sec-lawsuit-resign-tesla-board-million-fine/

The Ethical Questions of Musk’s Statements

Posted by Aishwarya Rai.

Tesla, the Palo Alto-based automative and energy company, has been subject to much staggering lately, due to the conduct of its ex-Chairman and CEO, Elon Musk. Musk and Tesla have been subject to inquiries by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC), as a result of Musk’s conduct; Musk tweeted about taking the company private, stating that funding had already been secured and shares would be priced at $420. Additionally, Musk made reference to those betting on shorting Tesla stocks by mentioning them and the “burn of the century.” Further details showed that Musk had no such funding secured, all whilst Tesla stocks zoomed upwards and short-sellers did in fact face losses.

This led to the DOJ and SEC to inquire into Tesla’s conduct as the tweets seemed to show that Musk misled the market to believe that Tesla would undergo privatization and thus gain some greater market value. When it was revealed that Tesla did not have the required amount of capital to go private, the SEC deemed that Musk’s actions were done to increase stock value and to financially harm short-sellers, making it an act of bad faith.

Furthermore, Musk’s actions showed a lack of ethical consideration as he seemed hostile towards short-sellers. Musk has a responsibility to shareholders as a CEO and the accuracy and truthfulness in the information he disseminates falls under this stipulation. Other acts that put his ethics in question were smoking on a podcast with Joe Rogan, which may go against Tesla’s codes of conduct as it can be said that he was acting as the CEO of the company while on camera.

These incidents put into perspective the need for important business officials to be mindful of the ripple effects of their actions on their fellow employees, clients, and shareholders. The effects of bad conduct, whether intentional or not, can be harmful and put companies at risk of failure. Accurate information is what creates a safe market, legally and financially.

Aishwarya is an economics and finance major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University,
Class of 2020.

Article:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/27/tesla-falls-4percent-on-report-elon-musk-sued-by-sec.html

The 20 Million Dollar Tweet

Posted by Kyle Greene.

The SEC recently filed a lawsuit against former Chairman and current CEO of Tesla Elon Musk because of a tweet he sent out earlier this year. The tweet stated that he had plans to take the company private when the stock price reached 420 dollars. He also included that he had funding secured for this, and he may have at the time of the tweet, but obviously was not able to see the deal through. After the tweet, Tesla stock increased quickly by about 9 percent. The SEC claimed that Musk had published “False and Misleading” statements and therefore had violated insider trading and market manipulating laws. Some believe the motive behind the tweet was to punish short sellers of the stock, but Musk has adamantly denied any foul play.

The SEC wasted no time in their attempt to force Musk to settle, threatening him by saying they wanted to have “a judge bar Musk from serving as an officer or director of a public company.” After the SEC took this action, Musk and Tesla ended up settling for an amount of 20 million dollars each in fines. The SEC has forced Musk to step down from his chairman position on the Tesla board of directors; originally they wanted to remove him from CEO as well, but were only able to remove him from the board. I feel as though the SEC used this case as an example to other high level executives of what happens when inaccuracies are so carelessly thrown around. And in an interconnected world, everyone finds out about everything very quickly, so if you decide to publish a statement about the company it better be accurate because you cannot take it back.

This case was never about the wellbeing of Tesla shareholders; the objective was to make headlines and send a message. On the other hand, Musk has not always been a shining example of how to act in the business world, with his recent stunt on the Joe Rogan podcast. The Tesla board of directors has actually set up a committee to monitor Musk’s communications moving forward, which is a smart move by them. Regulators have an eye out for Tesla and Musk especially, being that he is in the public eye so often. Although it is obvious that Musk acted irrationally and illogically, the nature of his work and the innovative mindset behind his companies is one of controversy and pushing the envelope. This careless mistake was just a mishap along the way, and no matter how serious the SEC may want to treat it, “Why would the SEC want to harm the company more than the tweet itself?” Whitehead said. “That would be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Kyle is a business management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2020.

Source:

https://money.cnn.com/2018/09/27/news/companies/elon-musk-sec-tesla/index.html?iid=EL

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

Posted by Shellian A. Murray.

The basis for this blog will be an Enron story” The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)” which was retrieved from the documentary listings on Netflix. A 2929 Entertainment, a Wagner/Cuban Company, Magnolia Pictures, HDNet Films. The documentary takes a behind the scenes look at the reliable energy company whose downfall will forever change the scope of business prospects around the globe. The “Jesus saves” notion was embedded with everyone asking the same sets of questions, which include, whether or not one main person was to be blamed, or it is a shared effort, and what mechanisms were put in places to make sure such events will never occur again. The fall of Enron was considered to be the largest bankruptcy in the United States of America history.

Enron, a company that took approximately 16 years to build and with a net worth of over a 100 million in assets took 24 days to go bankrupt.  What everyone thought was a significant investment and a company that was poised to take over the energy section with major gas prices, turns out to be the biggest Ponzi scheme. But in an instructive tale of corporate greed, negligent and diffusion of responsibility, there was no evidence of directors’ fiduciary duty, integrity, and stewardship displayed from those who were the leading players in the Enron scandal.

Jeffery Skilling, the former president and CEO and Kenneth Lay chairman/CEO were both Harvard graduates, the leaders of Enron, and were known as “the smartest guys in the room.”  Skilling and Lay were the captains of the ship; one that they thought was too powerful to go down. The employees that were involved were consumed by pride, greed, arrogance, and intolerance that they fail to realize they were just sinking themselves into a hole: a hole that will be unable to climb back out. The chaos caused by Enron traders in the 2000 California energy crisis left many disgruntled. California was seen as the money pit for Enron. The game was to create blackouts that would then drive-up gas prices significantly.  Many called on the federal government to fix a deregulatory system that Enron officials took for self-interest, but were told that the state was on its own and had to correct the problem by themselves.

On the other hand, Enron’s CFO, Andrew Fastow was still able to continue leaving massive debts off the balance sheets and booking future earnings, producing an illusion of market-to-market profit.  The Security Exchange Commission (SEC) did not have a problem with this accounting method and failed to enforce against companies like Enron. But reported profits were actually losses, even though amounts were not collected or collected, but were supposedly prepayments from clients, where such momentum was created to keep the stock price up.  But after winning the award for the best innovative company six years in a row, many persons started to question, how Enron made its money. A reporter by the name of Bethany Mclean wrote an article, “Enron stock overpriced?”  realizing that the cash flows were not coming together.

Jeffery Skilling the CEO had resigned suddenly, which lead the SEC to launch an investigation.  Enron declared bankruptcy on December 4, 2001, giving employees thirty (30mins) to leave the building. But before such bankruptcy declaration, on October 23, 2001, Author Andersen, the prestigious accounting firm had destroyed thousands of documents which were related to Enron finances.

Opinions and Reactions

The operation of Enron defrauded employees and investors out of millions of dollars, which at the same time the “big guys” who were involved in the game were quietly bailing themselves out, putting millions in personal and offshore accounts including the banks, such as, Chase and Citi Bank. Ken Lay had a high level political figure as a good friend, one that could help Enron to maintain its operation’s practices. Consequently, and if one were to believe it or not, politics is the driving factor for all regulatory and policies within any countries operations.

ArthurAndersen, the prestigious accounting firm, was paid a million dollar per week, denied their awareness of such practices of Enron. Auditors that supposedly gave reasonable assurance that the financials were, in fact, true and fair and free of material misstatements. As a result, many persons questioned the integrity and independence of the accounting and auditing profession. Such questions left a bitter taste in my mouth, within a career that has my interest and aspiration. A profession I held a role as an external auditor, internationally, and now as an accountant, I am in an “aww” moment, as to how people’s greed could allow them to continue embezzling cash or equivalents by any means necessary, no matter what harm may have caused by such actions. The disappointment I have with these people that are involved, by allowing their integrity to be compromised because of the greed of money is very heart rendering, wherein the end, mostly the poor suffer from such harsh deals.

Shellian is a master of science in accounting student at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2018.

 

 

 

 

The Summary of “Uber Investor Sues Travis Kalanick for Fraud” Article

Posted by Nora Shelbi.

In the article, Isaac (2017), discussed the issue of the Uber investor and claimed that Travis got involved in the material misstatement and fraudulent trading.  As per the investors, it has been declared that such fraudulent activity has been done with the intention to get the outside control of the board; and, he is involved in the breach of contract and breach of duty. Also, the investors are claiming that Mr. Kalanick’s “overarching objective is to pack Uber’s board with loyal allies in an effort to insulate his prior conduct from scrutiny and clear the path for his eventual return as C.E.O.”

The author of the article has declared that all the fraudulent activities which have been done by Mr. Kalanick is mainly due to restoring his position as the CEO and for this purpose, he is using the fraudulent ways which are not allowed at all in the corporate environment. The persons who were in favor of him have declared that he does not want to be the chief executive officer of the company, but others have said that he is doing this just to achieve the control without even having the title of the chief executive officer of the company.

There are many other claims, which are made, including an atmosphere of sexual harassment at workplace. The company is also sued by the sister company of Google for stealing the trade secrets of company, Waymo. Such issues concerning litigation against the company as well as its officials are not in favor of the company. It is deteriorating the image of the company, as well as, dissatisfying the investors to a greater extent. (ISAAC, 2017)

Nora is a graduate accounting student at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.

Reference:

ISAAC, M. (2017, Aug 10). Uber Investor Sues Travis Kalanick for Fraud. Retrieved Sep 20, 2017, from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/technology/travis-kalanick-uber-lawsuit-benchmark-capital.html

 

 

 

Wells Fargo – Pressure From the Top Down

Posted by Anna Fintor.

Wells Fargo is currently involved in a legal scandal in which it is said to have opened bank accounts and credit cards without the costumer’s consent. According to Reuters, “The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other regulators ordered United States’ third-largest bank by assets to pay $190 million in fines and restitution to settle civil charges.” The scandal has been going on for several years and there were as many as 2 million accounts opened illegally.

Wells Fargo has been known for its “high-pressure” sales culture, which one of my personal friends who has worked in one of the branches can account for. The Bloomberg article I have read describes how anonymous users have been posting cartoonish videos on YouTube presenting the negative work atmosphere at Wells Fargo. The videos show how management pressured and threatened workers that if the unreasonable goals were not met the workers would be let go.  It is suspected that the videos were created by employees as far back as in 2010.

While reading the articles, I remembered one of the discussions from class of how in large corporations top executives can pressure the bottom level workers to commit the illegal activity. One of the YouTube videos shows that bankers received $5 McDonald’s gift cards for opening a new account, while the executives received generous bonuses. In my opinion that’s very unethical and just wrong.

In the recent weeks the CEO, Jhon Stumpf has resigned and Wells Fargo continues to be under investigation. I feel like this situation is going to hurt Wells Fargo not only financially but also create bad reputation. Due to the popularity of social media, the videos will spread to a vast number of the population, including to those who may not be keeping up with the news.

Anna is an accounting major at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University, Class of 2018.

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-10-21/psst-regulators-watch-videos-for-bank-scandal-after-wells-fargo

https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-10-21/psst-regulators-watch-videos-for-bank-scandal-after-wells-fargon fines and restitution to settle civil charges

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-wells-fargo-accounts-california-idUSKCN12J2O

 

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, Accused of Discrimination Against Men

Posted by Ashley Torres.

In July of 2012, Marissa Mayer became both the President and Chief Executive Officer of Yahoo!. During her time within the company, she has found herself involved in many lawsuits, and is yet hit with another. Recently, in the San Jose District, a former media executive known as Scott Ard filed the lawsuit against Mayer. He is accusing her of running a campaign that discriminates against male employees, specifically. His reason behind this alleged accusation includes Mayer’s implemented “use of the employee performance rating system to accommodate management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the detriment of Yahoo’s male employees.” Mayar states the employee performance rate system has improved their overall performance, but Ard believes he was fired not because of his performance, but because of his gender.

Besides just accusing Mayer, Kathy Savitt, former chief marketing office, and Megan Liberman, editor in chief, are also involved in the lawsuit for discriminating against men. As evidence of this accusation, the lawsuit alleges that 14 of the 16 senior-level editorial employees were female whom were purposely hired by Savitt, while firing men because of their gender.

In February of 2016, there was another filed lawsuit with similar accusations. A former employee by the name of Gregory Anderson was fired, while he attended a fellowship at the University of Michigan. Anderson too believed that he was fired because of his gender and not his performance because when he asked to view his documentations with his performance that supposedly resulted in his termination, Anderson was denied. Both Anderson and Ard are represented by the same attorney, Jon Parsons, in which he declined in making any comments.

Ashley is an accounting major at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.

Wells Fargo Scandal

Posted by Dylan Beland.

One of the most talked about issues in business law news is the Wells Fargo scandal. The story behind this scandal is that the Department of Justice and many attorneys are investigating the possibility that Wells Fargo has millions of fake accounts opened at their banks. The result of the investigation was Wells Fargo had to pay a 185 million dollar fine.  Wells Fargo had to let go over 5,300 workers for fraudulent sales tactics.

From this, the concern and worry in the banking industry instigated a lot of questions about the fake accounts being opened. Employees were pushed to reach near-impossible sales targets, which in turn led to the creation of fake accounts. Mike Mayo, a banking analysist at CSLA, said the investigation “reflects pent-up frustration by the public over the lack of accountability at big banks post financial crisis.”

The people that could see some blame for this are the investors of the banks. One of Wells Fargo’s biggest investors has not spoken, since the situation has arisen. Warren Buffett is Wells Fargo’s biggest investor and he owns Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

On September 20, Wells Fargo is meeting with the Senate and is having John Stumpf, CEO, represent and testify at the hearing. He apologized for the fake accounts but also said he does not plan on resigning from being CEO of Wells Fargo.

Dylan is an accounting major at the Feliciano School of Business, Montclair State University.

Ethical Issues with the Shkreli Case

Posted by Justin Cohen.

Martin Shkreli a pharmaceutical CEO raised the price of an AIDS drug that saves people’s lives. In December of 2015, the prices of the drug, called Daraprim, was raised by five thousand percent, one bottle originally being $13.50 to $750.

The ethical problem in this situation was by making the drug so expensive that only a select few could afford it, hurts the people the company is allegedly trying to help. The company made this drug not only to make a profit, but also to help patients with AIDS. Shkreli states “Because the drug was unprofitable at the former price, so any company selling it would be losing money. And at this price it’s a reasonable profit. Not excessive at all” –Shkreli.

This drug has been selling for sixty-two years. I think the new price of this drug is very excessive. The company has been living off the past profit for years. The price could have been raised, but 5,000 percent is very excessive.

Companies making drugs to help save lives should be more worried about the people they are serving than making the most profit they can. This brings up the ethical questions, was making money more important to Shkreli than saving lives? What did he think was going to happen to the patients who now could not afford the drug? Why did Shkreli put himself before thousands of other people? Lastly, what are the ethical obligations of a company to aid the public vs. making a profit?

Justin is a sports management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2018.

Pharmaceutical Drug Major Price Increase

Posted by Jose L. Diaz.

Imagine having a potential life-ending disease or illness that you depend on medication for to survive. Money is tight, and most of your savings goes towards purchasing the medication in order to survive. Suddenly, just overnight, the price of this drug not only increases, but it increases by 5000%. While it sounds absolutely absurd, this actually happened when Turing Pharmaceuticals, a startup company being run by a former hedge fund manager, increased the price of their drug called Daraprim, from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet overnight. That is not $750 a prescription–it is $750 per tablet. This brought the annual cost of treatment for some patients to over a hundred thousand dollars.

Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, claims that the drug is so rarely used that the price increase would not have a significant effect on the health system. He claims that the money earned from the price increase would go towards developing better treatments for toxoplasmosis, the disease that is treated by Daraprim. However, the price increase will make it almost impossible for private insurers like Medicare and patients in hospitals to attain. The fact that the drug is so expensive and hard to attain now, it makes it harder for other companies to make samples of the drug and replicate it. Overall, the drug is the leading treatment for the life-threatening parasitic infection toxoplasmosis. The increase in price seems to be an only profit-driven choice.

Jose is finance and accounting major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University.