One day after his abrupt resignation from Nikola Corp., former Chairman and CEO Trevor Milton ghosted his Twitter followers and vanished from public view.
Why he did it is a bit of a mystery. But his disappearing act, to some, points to guilt or cowardice in the fallout from a report that accused the company he founded of "intricate fraud."
Now Wall Street whiz and former General Motors exec Steve Girsky is at the helm as chairman of Nikola. His job is to clean up the mess and ensure that a lucrative 10-year deal with GM moves forward.
"This is a dangerous moment for Nikola and for Girsky," said Eric Schiffer, CEO of The Patriarch Organization and Reputation Management Consultants. "The Nikola image is headed for the electric graveyard and its new chairman must reinforce confidence and prove to the public, and GM, that the company was not some giant fleece job and investors were not the suckers who bought the fake watch on the streetcorner."
On Monday, Nikola announced Milton had quit. The news came after a Sept. 10 report by Hindenburg Research that accused Nikola of being an "intricate fraud." Bloomberg has reported that when Nikola showed its Nikola One semi-truck in 2016, Nikola falsely said that it was a working prototype even though it was non-running and missing essential parts.
Nikola has disputed the claim of fraud. But federal authorities are examining the allegations and Nikola's stock price has taken multiple beatings. On Wednesday, the stock price closed at $21.15. That's down from $37.57 on Sept. 10.
The bad publicity has cast a dark cloud over Nikola's pending deal with GM. In that deal, GM will build the all-electric Nikola Badger pickup, due to market at the end of 2022, in exchange for $2 billion in stock and other cost benefits.
In a subtle move Tuesday, Milton deleted his Twitter account. The @nikolatrevor merely reads, "This account doesn't exist." And, just like that, he was gone.
A spokeswoman for Nikola confirmed Milton deleted his Twitter account, but she did not know why. She no longer represents him as he's hired the prestigious Sard Verbinnen & Co. in New York.