Elon Musk’s Five Biggest Freakouts of 2018

Tesla: Musk's tweet a bridge too far?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has gained a reputation for often acting rashly and aggressively, here are the CEO’s five biggest freakouts of 2018.

Breitbart Tech has reported on Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company closely this year as the companies regularly fail to deliver on their promises and receive billions in taxpayer funding. Behind these companies is their CEO Elon Musk, over the course of this year Musk has had a number of public meltdowns and freakouts, here are just a few:

1: Musk Calls British Cave Diving Hero a ‘Pedo Guy’

As experts worked around the clock to save the Thai soccer team for an underwater cave, Elon Musk stepped in and offered his help. Initially, he offered the use of battery packs to run equipment at the site of the cave, but then his plans began to become more extravagant with Musk offering the use of a miniature submarine to transport the young boys out of the cave.

One British cave diving rescuer involved in the rescue operation was not impressed with Musk’s plan, believing it to be a PR stunt, stating in an interview: “He can stick his submarine where it hurts. It had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like. The submarine, I believe, was about five foot six long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone around corners or round any obstacles. It wouldn’t have made the first 50 meters into the cave from the dive start point. Just a PR stunt.”

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO responded to this by calling Unsworth a “pedo guy.”  Musk stated in a tweet: “Never saw this British expat guy who lives in Thailand (sus) at any point when we were in the caves. Only people in sight were the Thai navy/army guys, who were great. Thai navy seals escorted us in — total opposite of wanting us to leave.” Musk added: “You know what, don’t bother showing the video. We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

Since then, Musk has apologized in a tweet stating: “As this well-written article suggests, my words were spoken in anger after Mr. Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader.” Musk continued: “Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr. Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone.”

Musk is quite correct though, anyone working with someone that accuses others of being a pedophile with apparently no evidence whatsoever should be worried about how their company is being represented.

2: New York Times Breakdown

In an interview with the New York Times in August, Musk discussed the issues surrounding his electric car company in recent months. The Times described Musk as “struggling to maintain his composure” when he stated: “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career. It was excruciating.”

The Times asked Musk if his health was suffering due to stress to which Musk replied: “It’s not been great, actually. I’ve had friends come by who are really concerned.” Musk discussed his recent tweets claiming that he wanted to take Tesla private once stock prices reached $420 a share. Musk says that he came to this figure after deciding he wanted to offer a 20 percent premium on current stock prices which would have come out around $419, a number Musk rounded up to $420.

Musk appeared to become emotional when discussing his 47th birthday which he spent entirely at work: “All night — no friends, nothing,” said Musk, who was allegedly quite emotional and struggling to speak. Two days after his birthday, Musk was scheduled to be the best man at his brother Kimbal’s wedding in Catalonia. Musk said he flew directly from the Tesla Gigafactory and arrived just two hours before the ceremony, after the ceremony he returned immediately to work.

The Times did not press Musk over his many ventures and trips not directly tied to Tesla’s production and sales efforts. These include time devoted to creating, selling, and attendingparties for The Boring Company’s flamethrowers, his trip to Thailand during the cave crisis, and other diversions.  The interview did not cover the multiple rounds of Tesla layoffs, workers that could have presumably helped Musk shoulder the load.

Musk has reportedly begun using the sleep-aid drug Ambien in order to rest: “It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien,” stated Musk. But some board members worry that the drug — known for sometimes causing erratic actions and impulsive decisions — does often not put Musk to sleep, but instead contributes to his late-night Twitter ramblings which have landed the CEO in hot water. People familiar with board members claim that the board is also aware that Musk has previously used recreational drugs.

Reaction to the Times interview came swiftly on social media,  including a comment from television personality Jim Cramer, who says Musk requires “medical leave.”
3: Headbutting Production Line Vehicles
Following the New York Times report, the Washington Post detailed more of Musk’s erratic behavior in an article from September which claims that the Tesla CEO began headbutting a car on an assembly line that had been stopped. The assembly line was reportedly stopped due to automatic sensors which activate when a person gets in the way of the line to prevent injury. Musk reportedly was unhappy with the stoppage and believed that even if the cars on the line were moving they could not hurt a person.

According to the Post:

During a tour this spring at Tesla Inc.’s electric-car factory in Fremont, Calif., Elon Musk asked why the assembly line had stopped. Managers said automatic safety sensors halted the line whenever people got in the way.

Mr. Musk became angry, according to people familiar with what happened. His high-profile gamble on mass-producing electric cars had lagged behind since production began, and here was one more frustration. The billionaire entrepreneur began head-butting the front end of a car on the assembly line.

“I don’t see how this could hurt me,” he said of vehicles on the slow-speed line. “I want the cars to just keep moving.”

When a senior engineering manager involved with the system explained that it was a safety measure, Mr. Musk told him, “Get out!”

Tesla said the manager was fired for other reasons.

While Musk’s eccentric behavior has helped to bring attention to Tesla, many are beginning to wonder if the company needs a more stable leader. CNBC reported that funds run by investment management titan BlackRock voted to replace Elon Musk as company chairman, filling the role with an independent candidate. According to BlackRock’s filings with the SEC, the removal of Musk as company chairman would not have affected his position as Tesla CEO.

4: SEC Settlement Tweets

Elon Musk loves to use Twitter, however, his late-night tweeting has regularly landed him in hot water. In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musk reached a settlement with the SEC over charges of fraud relating to a tweet in which Musk claimed to have the “funding secured” to take Tesla private. Musk was offered a no-guilt settlement deal by the SEC. Under the terms of the settlement, both Musk and Tesla paid a $20 million fine to “be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved process,” and Musk was barred from acting as the chairman of Tesla for two years — although he would still maintain his role as CEO and he would not have to admit guilt in the matter.

In a tweet thread discussing social media, Musk stated that Twitter users rarely gave praise to others but regularly published criticism. One follower replied that Musk had received 19,000 likes on that tweet showing that he received quite a lot of praise on the platform. Musk replied that Instagram was much more likely to provide positive affirmation than Twitter was:

Another user replied to Musk: “How about that one that cost you 20M, how was the ‘like’ ratio on that one?” to which Musk simply replied: “worth it.”

In another tweet shortly after his settlement with the SEC, Musk mocked the commission stating: “Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!”

5: Musk’s Rage Firings

In an article titled “Dr. Elon & Mr. Musk: Life Inside Tesla’s Production Hell,” Wired takes a deep look into what it’s like to work under Elon Musk as a Tesla engineer. The piece follows the story of one young engineer hired by the electric car-manufacturer and his experience while working there. It discusses the period in which Tesla was in “production hell” as Musk called it, attempting to produce 5,000 Model 3 sedans a week.

Wired writes:

Musk was spending the weekend in the Gigafactory, attempting to discover why machines weren’t functioning, why parts kept misaligning, why the software was crashing. Musk had demanded that his factories be automated as much as possible. But among the consequences of this extreme roboticization were delays and malfunctions. Tesla had spent more than $1 billion building the Gigafactory, and almost nothing was going as planned.

At about 10 o’clock on Saturday evening, an angry Musk was examining one of the production line’s mechanized modules, trying to figure out what was wrong, when the young, excited engineer was brought over to assist him.

It was then that the young engineer had his first interaction with Musk, whom he had never met before:

“Hey, buddy, this doesn’t work!” Musk shouted at the engineer, according to someone who heard the conversation. “Did you do this?”

The engineer was taken aback. He had never met Musk before. Musk didn’t even know the engineer’s name. The young man wasn’t certain what, exactly, Musk was asking him, or why he sounded so angry.

“You mean, program the robot?” the engineer said. “Or design that tool?”

“Did you fucking do this?” Musk asked him.

“I’m not sure what you’re referring to?” the engineer replied apologetically.

“You’re a fucking idiot!” Musk shouted back. “Get the fuck out and don’t come back!”

The young engineer climbed over a low safety barrier and walked away. He was bewildered by what had just happened. The entire conversation had lasted less than a minute. A few moments later, his manager came over to say that he had been fired on Musk’s orders, according to two people with knowledge of the situation. The engineer was shocked. He’d been working so hard. He was set to get a review from his manager the next week, and had been hearing only positive things. Instead, two days later, he signed his separation papers.

Unfortunately, it appears as if Musk’s reaction towards the young engineer was not an isolated incident, random firings were apparently commonplace and many employees walked on eggshells, terrified of upsetting Musk:

Employees knew about such rampages. Sometimes Musk would terminate people; other times he would simply intimidate them. One manager had a name for these outbursts—Elon’s rage firings—and had forbidden subordinates from walking too close to Musk’s desk at the Gigafactory out of concern that a chance encounter, an unexpected question answered incorrectly, might endanger a career.

After Musk had patrolled the factory floor for a while, executives pulled him into a conference room. “I think we can fix this,” one of his top lieutenants, Jon McNeill, told him, according to someone who heard the conversation. McNeill tried to calm Musk down, and repeated a proverb he had once heard: No man comes up with a good idea when being chased by a tiger. At that moment, Musk was the tiger. (A spokesperson for McNeill said he did not want to participate in this story.)

With Musk’s latest PR stunt of demonstrating his new Boring Company tunnel in California falling flat, it’s quite likely that we will see even more of these outburts and hot-headed tweets from the Tesla CEO in the coming year.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com


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