Elon Musk Just Revealed His Biggest Problem Without Even Mentioning It

Joshua Lott  Getty Images

Joshua Lott Getty Images

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 previous year for him as the company has tried to overcome manufacturing issues with the Model 3 sedan.

The billionaire electric vehicle maker, rocket launcher, tunnel digger and insulter of rescue divers sat down for an emotional interview with The New York Times, laying out recent trials and tribulations that led to a 6 percent stock-price drop on Friday for the auto company Tesla, which he co-founded and serves as CEO.

He also described his use of the drug Ambien to sleep, a topic he's talked of before.

Tesla shares capped their worst week since 2016, tumbling 8.9 per cent - the most in two years - to close at $US305.50, a far cry from Musk's $420 buyout proposal. The SEC began an investigation after the tweet and has reportedly sent out subpoenas for information.

In a separate report, The Wall Street Journal said securities regulators had been investigating if Tesla misled investors about Model 3 production problems.

The board of directors is on the lookout for senior talent but is not actively searching for a COO, a person familiar with the board's thinking said late Friday.

Soon after the tweet that was posted during the middle of the day, Tesla's shares soared, and investors and journalists were taken aback by Musk's plan of taking Tesla private.

Or he could heed the Tesla board and stop tweeting.

"Weed is not helpful for productivity".

The Times asked Musk if his health was suffering due to stress to which Musk replied: "It's not been great, actually". Tesla's cars are wildly popular and the world would miss them if the shorts prove right.

Musk told the interviewer that he occasionally takes the prescription sleep aid Ambien to help him sleep when his is not working.

"It seemed like better karma at US$420 than at US$419", he said in the interview.

Musk told the Times he stands by the tweet.

The interview took place on August 15 but a 17-minute video was uploaded by Brownlee on YouTube on Friday - a week after Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private with "funding secured" that created a storm at the Tesla board and amid market watchers.

Musk, 47, said sometimes he did not leave the Tesla factory for three or four days straight, and that he had not taken off more than a week at a time since he was sick with malaria in 2001.

The Times cited people familiar with the situation as saying Tesla has been trying to find a No. 2 executive to help relieve some of the pressure on Musk.

The father-of-six also rejected suggestions he had been smoking marijuana, adding: 'I was not on weed, to be clear.

Two weeks prior to Musk's tweet it was revealed Tesla had burned through US$739.5 million in cash on its way to a record US$717.5m net loss in the second quarter, as it cranked out more electric cars.

Musk's admissions come at a tumultuous time for Tesla, but the CEO predicted that the pain isn't quite over yet.

Short selling involves borrowing shares in a company and selling them in the hope of buying them back later at a lower price when the firm's fortunes falter.

In June, Musk caused outrage when he responded to a tweet from a woman who claimed Musk had used her father's unicorn artwork on Tesla merchandise without compensation or attribution, by telling her: "He can sue for money if he wants, but that's kinda lame".

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.