Opinion: John McAfee was one of the original genius-but-bizarre CEOs — and Elon Musk should take note

The fantastical story of antivirus-application entrepreneur John McAfee in his later on yrs should really be a cautionary tale to other genius CEOs, especially Elon Musk.

McAfee, who was observed useless in his jail cell in Barcelona on Wednesday, was going to be extradited to the U.S. to be tried for money crimes, such as tax evasion and a cryptocurrency pump-and-dump scheme. In March, federal prosecutors alleged in a complaint that McAfee and a person of his advisers, Jimmy Galen Watson, engaged in a scheme of fraudulent marketing on social-media platforms to traders of cryptocurrencies, which include dogecoin.

“The defendants allegedly used McAfee’s Twitter account to publish messages to hundreds of countless numbers of his Twitter followers touting numerous cryptocurrencies via phony and misleading statements to conceal their legitimate, self-interested motives,” reported Audrey Strauss, the U.S. lawyer for the Southern District of New York, in a assertion in March.

According to Strauss, McAfee, Watson and other associates of McAfee’s cryptocurrency workforce “allegedly raked in extra than $13 million from traders they victimized with their fraudulent schemes.  Investors ought to be wary of social-media endorsements of investment decision prospects.” 

Sound a bit acquainted, Elon Musk? The main govt of Tesla Inc.
has been an avid supporter and promoter of cryptocurrency, including far more gasoline to the hoopla and transferring crypto markets with his tweets. In March, he tweeted that Tesla would begin to settle for cryptocurrency for its electric powered cars, a thirty day period following Tesla acquired $1.5 billion of bitcoin
He then reversed that choice in Could, mainly because of his sudden issue about the sum of energy utilized by high-efficiency personal computers in bitcoin mining.

Before this thirty day period, Musk was accused of a pump-and-dump plan by the CEO of South African financial products and services business Sygnia. Magda Wierzycka claimed Musk served pump up bitcoin’s selling price by way of his tweets and Tesla profited by selling at a substantial position. Musk denied the allegations and mentioned her reviews were inaccurate, declaring Tesla only offered all-around 10% of its holdings to show that bitcoin could be liquidated easily without the need of shifting the sector.

Even so, Musk’s actions on Twitter have raised concerns in the previous with the Securities and Trade Commission, which settled an enforcement action with Tesla in 2018 around his tweets. The latest correspondence acquired by the Wall Avenue Journal amongst Tesla and the SEC indicated that regulators told the business it experienced unsuccessful to implement the get requiring his tweets to be pre-accepted. It appears that the business and its board have taken a arms-off tactic to Musk’s tweets and his remarks on crypto. Musk even appeared on “Saturday Night Live” and did a sketch in which he joked that dogecoin was “a hustle.”

McAfee was a exclusive individual, and at situations strange. As MarketWatch’s Jon Swartz pointed out, just after interviewing him various moments, McAfee was at periods both equally “charismatic and harmful.” Musk has both equally of all those attributes as effectively. When he may possibly not have all of the bizarre characteristics of McAfee, Musk would do properly to consider take note of McAfee as a cautionary tale.