Elon Musk’s Baby Shark tweet sparks share surge

Elon Musk has once again proved his ability to move markets with a casual aside about internet culture, as a comment about the viral “Baby Shark” YouTube video sparked a surge in the share price of a South Korean company.

In response to a clip posted by the official Twitter account of the animated comedy series South Park about viral internet memes battling each other, the Tesla boss tweeted to his 56.3 million followers: “Baby Shark crushes all! ”

Musk has already caused huge swings in the value of stocks and cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Dogecoin with supposedly off-the-cuff remarks, leaving investors and fans hanging on the every word of a man worth more than $150bn.

His latest comments had much the same effect. Shares in South Korean firm Samsung Publishing – the second largest investor in the Baby Shark creator, SmartStudy – jumped by 10% before settling back to close more than 6% higher on the Korea Exchange in Busan.

Musk said Baby Shark had “more views than humans”, a reference to the fact that the video – a repetitive shark-themed jingle popular with small children – has been watched 8.3bn times. The population of the world was estimated at less than 8bn in 2020.

The Tesla founder and space enthusiast has shown an appetite for making cryptic or bombastic public comments about companies, including the Tesla empire he built, often inflating or decreasing values by billions of pounds at a stroke.

In February, the value of the “joke” cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which started out as a dog-based internet meme, soared by 50%. The catalyst was a tweet from Musk describing it as “the people’s crypto”.

Last month, while hosting the US comedy show Saturday Night Life, Musk declared Dogecoin a “hustle”, causing its value to slump again.

The price of bitcoin climbed 14% to a record high of $43,500 earlier this year after Musk appeared to bestow his blessing on it via Twitter. Tesla subsequently bought $1.5bn of the digital currency and said it would allow customers to pay with it.

A few months later, bitcoin fell back 17% after Tesla suspended bitcoin payments, citing long-known concerns about the fossil fuel intensity of bitcoin “mining”.

US financial regulators have taken a dim view of Musk’s ability to move markets with his Twitter account.

In 2019, he settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the markets regulator investigated a tweet suggesting he would take Tesla private, which sent shares in the company soaring. The regulator is also reported to have examined his tweets about Dogecoin.

A year earlier, shares in Tesla fell as two of its senior executives quit shortly after Musk sparked concern by smoking marijuana on a live web show. Asked about the incident by a reporter, Musk branded the Guardian as “the most insufferable newspaper on planet Earth”.


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