NEW YORK -- Elon Musk's job as Tesla Inc.'s CEO appeared safe on Thursday as a federal judge in Manhattan urged the billionaire to settle contempt allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission over his use of Twitter.
At a hearing in Manhattan federal court, U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan gave both sides two weeks to work out their differences, and said she could rule on whether Musk violated his recent fraud settlement with the regulator if they failed.
"Take a deep breath, put your reasonableness pants on, and work this out," the judge said.
The hearing appeared to lift an overhang over Tesla, as the SEC stopped well short of recommending Musk's removal as chief executive or even from the electric car company's board.
Instead, the regulator suggested that greater oversight of Musk's communications, including the threat of new fines if he backslides, was punishment enough, at least for now.
"What this is to the SEC is strike two, and if there is another transgression they might seek a director and officer bar," said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit and a former SEC lawyer. "They are just trying to send a message: be more careful."
Musk declined to discuss the hearing as he left the courthouse, surrounded by a horde of reporters, photographers and television cameras, but said "I feel very loved here."
In a statement provided later by Tesla, Musk said: "I have great respect for Judge Nathan, and I’m pleased with her decision today. The tweet in question was true, immaterial to shareholders, and in no way a violation of my agreement."