It’s not exactly a secret that Elon Musk, billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, self-proclaimed Thai pedophilia expert, and designer of death race trucks, doesn’t give a flying fuck what other people think about his actions.
To wit: Musk has endorsed an alleged sex cult’s system for ranking news organizations based on “critical thinking,” regularly railed against media orgs, and angrily cut off journalists on earnings calls. According to a new piece in Vanity Fair, sources say that after Musk’s December 2019 win in a libel lawsuit brought by a Thai cave diver he had smeared as a pedophile, Musk decided in Trumpian style that he would stop pretending to play nice with his perceived enemies. Thus he severed ties with his external PR firm, stopped hiring for openings on his comms team, mass-blocked journalists, and this month disbanded Tesla’s PR department. One longtime employee told the magazine, “Elon is his own communications director now.”
No one really cares whether Musk hates reporters but reporters. But Vanity Fair’s sources said doubling down on absolutism of the self might not have been the best idea, because he’s kind of an asshole.
Per Vanity Fair, Musk’s staff fears days he arrives in a bad mood, because he’ll make arbitrary decisions that makes everyone’s work life hellish:
“On [SpaceX] launch days, you have everyone at Tesla tuned in to see if the launch is successful, not because we are vested in the rockets, but because it directly impacts Elon’s mood for the next few days,” the Tesla executive told me. “If there was a failure on a launch, there’d be hell to pay; you didn’t want to have a phone call set up with Elon afterward.” On the other hand, if the rocket launch was successful, Musk’s inbox would fill with budget requests. The same is true for SpaceX employees when new production numbers are set to be released for Tesla.
Over the past few years, Musk’s behavior has managed to drive off a growing number of staff.
In August 2018, Musk sent out a bad “joke” tweet claiming he was taking Tesla private at a share price of $420 (the weed number), attracting an angry lawsuit by the Securities and Exchange Commission that he was forced to settle to the tune of a $20 million fine and loss of his Tesla chairmanship. As Vanity Fair noted, since the tweet, Tesla has lost over two dozen executives, including “three different general counsels, his director of engineering, director of sales, directors of finance, operations, accounting, production, and recruiting.” Musk also lost his chief of staff, Sam Teller. One of those departed executives specifically cited Musk’s Twitter account as too embarrassing to put up with any longer.
An unspecified former employee of Musk’s added that when he asked the tech magnate whether he ever worried about losing his marbles, Musk responded, “Does a crazy person ever look in the mirror and know that he’s crazy?”
According to one person who witnessed an argument between Musk and a former girlfriend upon leaving a club one evening, Musk aggressively railed against her, asking why she had hair on her face (referring to the slight peach fuzz that everyone has, visible under the bright light of the club’s awning). “Because I’m a mammal,” the girlfriend replied, which only pissed Musk off even more.
“There is a high level of degenerate behavior with Elon,” one Musk acquaintance told Vanity Fair. “… All of these guys, I’ve spent time with them, Musk, Zuck, all of them; they all exhibit tendencies of total and complete pathological sociopathy. They don’t at their core give a flying fuck about you or me as individuals.”
When reached for comment by Vanity Fair, Musk responded, “Vanity Fair sucks.”