Is Elon Musk wacko or is he just whacked?
Detractors say he’s crazy but the Tesla boss reckons he is just worn out after an ‘excruciating’ year
Elon Musk has acknowledged exhaustion from overwork as he deals with a reported probe by regulators into a plan divulged on Twitter to take his car company Tesla private.
“This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” Musk told the New York Times. “It was excruciating.”
The paper said the electric car company’s swashbuckling boss choked up at times during the interview as he talked about working marathon hours trying to meet production deadlines.
Musk, who founded Tesla in 2003 to push cars into a new tech era, said he saw his tweet – which included an assurance that funding for going private was secured – as an attempt to be transparent. The news sent Tesla shares soaring so much that trading was suspended in New York. It shocked investors, market analysts and reportedly even Tesla board members who did not see it coming, as well as attracting the attention of regulators.Tesla shares fell last week on reports by Fox Business and the New York Times that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Musk to talk about the tweet. Normally such a major announcement – taking a huge company private – would be explained in detail beforehand to regulators.
Musk acknowledged that no one read his Twitter post before he sent it, but said he did not regret it. “Why would I?” he said.
Musk, who envisions sending tourists to the Moon, is recognised as one of the most influential innovators in the US. California-based Tesla has become one of the most valuable automakers on expectations it will disrupt the industry. But the SA-born Musk has appeared to fray under the pressure in recent months.
On the physical toll his job is taking, Musk said: “It’s not been great, actually. I’ve had friends come by who are really concerned.”
He described spending every hour of his 47th birthday in June at work and almost missing his brother’s wedding.
The Times report said Tesla board members had raised concerns over his “workload but also about his use of Ambien”, a sleeping drug.