Elon Musk work ethic: 120 hour workweeks and sleeping on factory floor

Daniel Fowler
August 20, 2018

In a wide-ranging and emotional interview with the New York Times published late on Thursday, Musk, Tesla's chief executive, described the difficulties over the a year ago for him as the company has tried to overcome manufacturing issues with the Model 3 sedan.

The link between public perceptions of the tech billionaire's mental state and the financial state of his publicly traded company was evident today, in the wake of a New York Times interview that quoted Musk as acknowledging he was fraying.

Musk has also said on multiple occasions that Tesla would become profitable by the end of this year and would not need to raise additional funds, despite its increased cash-burn rate in recent quarters.

The Tesla boss says he's prepared for 'at least a few months of extreme torture from the short-sellers, who are desperately pushing a narrative that will possibly result in Tesla's destruction'.

Musk said he did not regret sending the "Funding secured" tweet and had no plans to relinquish his dual roles as chairman and CEO.

Musk has also lashed out at both the media and analysts from large Wall Street banks in recent months, calling questions from analysts "boring, bonehead questions" and suggesting he would start a website to rank the credibility of individual journalists, after Tesla received negative press coverage.

"There were times when I didn't leave the factory for three or four days - days when I didn't go outside", he said.

My guess is that most people who read the whole Times article will reach the same conclusion I have that Musk clearly has not: this man seriously needs to learn how to delegate, and now.

"Weed is not helpful for productivity".

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"It's not been great, actually", he said. "They can have the reins right now", stated Musk. The tweet said: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420".

"Musk's uncontrolled utterances put himself and the board into potential jeopardy and likely mean ugly times ahead for company investors."

Tesla shares fell this 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.

But the limelight is eventually taking its toll, with Mr Musk admitting he works 120 hour weeks and has not taken more than a week off since 2001 - when he had malaria. "But I was not on weed".

The Times report said board members had raised concerns over his "workload but also about his use of Ambien", a sleeping drug. "There's a reason for the word 'stoned.' You just sit there like a stone on weed", he added.

His comments confirmed what many in and out of the company had suspected as Musk conceded that exhaustion was affecting his personal health and that friends have come by "who are really concerned".

In the interview published today, Musk basically acknowledged that his tweets had blindsided Tesla's board members. The sleepless nights he's spent at the Tesla Gigafactory operating woefully behind schedule; his rather unpredictable behavior on Twitter that's brought him, and his company, under federal scrutiny.

The most substantial liability Musk may have incurred is paying damages to investors - in particular, short-sellers.

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