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All the ruckuses Elon Musk has caused – Yahoo Finance

by Nov 9, 2022Blog0 comments

Tech bros move fast and break things, and none wields the hammer as aggressively as Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO who now owns Twitter. In just a few days of ownership, Musk has laid off half the staff, alienated advertisers that provide most of the company’s revenue and proposed several changes that might drive users away. Many regular tweeters fear Musk will let anybody post anything, turning the platform into a gusher of nasty propaganda.
The Twitterverse may be in shock, but this is nothing new for Musk. Since starting his first company in 1995, Musk has built a remarkable entrepreneurial career on bold moves that sometimes seem reckless and unfiltered opinions he rarely apologizes for, no matter who he offends.
A review of Musk’s many ruckuses reveals he has become brasher as his successes have multiplied. Unlike most CEOs, Musk has no fear of controversy, and may actually relish it. He pushes boundaries and usually gets away with it. When venturing beyond his areas of expertise, Musk’s views can seem naïve, but they reflect boundless confidence in his ability to solve any problem—which he’s now applying to Twitter. Here’s are some of Musk’s memorable dust-ups over the years:
Co-founder spat. Martin Eberhard, one of five Tesla co-founders, sues Musk over his ouster two years earlier in a battle for control of the company. Musk and Eberhard settle on confidential terms.
Trophy wife.” Musk’s first wife, Justine Musk, publishes an article asserting that Musk tried to mold her into a “trophy wife,” along with other personal insights into Musk’s formation. Musk has been married three times to two women and has dated celebrities such as Amber Heard and Grimes. He has at least nine children and jokes he is “doing my best to help the underpopulation crisis.”
Going after critics. Musk fights back after the New York Times trashes Tesla’s first sedan, the Model S, saying the car conked out on a highway. Musk personally rebuts the review in a Tesla blog post, citing data logs from the car that supposedly disprove the Times’s assertions. The Times rebuts the rebuttal, leaving the truth somewhat cloudy—but proving Musk’s tenacity in the face of criticism.
Rocket men. Musk, also CEO of SpaceX, trolls Jeff Bezos, owner of the Blue Origin space company, over whose rocket is better.
Roughing it. Musk reveals he spend nights at the Tesla factory in a sleeping bag to help the company meet aggressive production targets. Analysts wonder if a CEO ought to be doing this.
Autopilot troubles. The first death of a Tesla driver using the self-driving “Autopilot” feature occurs in Florida. As of 2022, there have been more than 30 fatalities in Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot, with critics saying Tesla promotes the technology too flippantly. The government is investigating. Musk, ever the technology pioneer, remains defiant, saying Autopilot saves lives, on net.
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Out there. Musk challenges the scientific accuracy of the Matt Damon blockbuster “The Martian” and says he would like to send people to Mars by 2025.
Cheap boss? Musk rebuts a story about firing his assistant when she asked for a raise. The journalist who reported it says the anecdote was “very well sourced.” It's unclear who’s right.
Thick skin.” A former employee files a racial-discrimination lawsuit against Tesla, citing, among other things, an email Musk sent to employees saying “it is important to be thick-skinned” if somebody acts like a jerk but later apologizes. Some critics think Musk is subtly telling workers to put up with racist behavior. Tesla, over the years, has faced dozens of accusations of racism and settled some cases for millions of dollars.
Immigration mitigation. Musk tweets that President Donald Trump’s immigration ban “is not right”—but then quickly deletes the tweet. Musk fans and critics speculate over what his real message is.
Haha. On April Fool’s Day, Musk tweets that “Tesla has gone completely and totally bankrupt.” Everybody’s gets that it’s a joke, but critics wonder if it’s the kind of thing a CEO should do. Of course, it’s not.
Pedo guy.” Musk offers an experimental mini-submarine to help rescue children trapped in a cave in Thailand. A diver working on the rescue tells CNN that Musk “can stick his submarine where it hurts.” Musk jabs back by calling the diver a “pedo guy,” or pedophile. Rescuers free the Thai kids. It remains unclear if Musk’s mini-sub would have worked. The diver finally sues Musk for defamation. Musk wins.
$420. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charges Musk with securities fraud for claiming in a tweet that he plans to take Tesla private at $420 per share, when there is no such plan. Musk never deletes the tweet. But he does settle with the SEC, by paying a fine, giving up the chairman’s role and agreeing to have company-related tweets approved by lawyers, tee-hee.
Puff. Musk takes a hit of weed on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Moralists howl, and Tesla’s stock falls 8%. But nothing happens and the stock recovers. Must later says weed is not for him, because “it is not very good for productivity.”
Just kidding. Musk derides the SEC, with which he'd just signed a settlement agreement, as the “Shortseller Enrichment Corporation.” Critics say he should be more careful. But nothing happens.
Still here. In a tweet, Musk says he deleted his Twitter account. He didn’t.
I'm not a doctor but … Musk publishes a string of bogus information about the COVID-19 pandemic, such as predicting it will promptly disappear and saying children are immune. Medical experts say Musk should stick with cars and rockets.
Trumpy. Musk goes Trumpy, reopening Tesla’s California factory in defiance of a local COVID shutdown order. Two months into the pandemic, Musk tweets, “FREE AMERICA NOW.” After telling Tesla workers they could stay home, he fires some who say they don’t feel safe coming back to work amid the pandemic.
Sell! Musk tweets, “Tesla stock price is too high,” mimicking no CEO, ever. The stock falls 9%. Heads explode trying to figure out if it’s market manipulation when a CEO deliberately sends his own stock lower.
He/him. Musk upsets transgender activists by tweeting, “pronouns suck.” Five months later, he clarifies: “I absolutely support trans, but all these pronouns are an esthetic nightmare.”
Duh. The Wall Street Journal reports on correspondence from the SEC to Tesla claiming Musk has violated the 2018 agreement requiring company lawyers to vet Musk’s tweets. Nobody knows what to do about it.
Anti-union. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) orders Tesla to reinstate a worker fired in 2017 while organizing for a labor union, with back pay. Musk had suggested workers joining a union could lose stock options, which the NLRB interpreted as a threat.
Biden-basher. In a tweet, Musk calls President Joe Biden “a damp sock puppet in human form.” Musk’s beef with Biden is apparently his reluctance to highlight Tesla as an electric-car pioneer because it isn’t unionized. Business historians try and fail to find another instance of a prominent CEO publicly trolling the American president with juvenile imagery.
Bernie-basher. After Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweets, “We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share,” Musk replies, “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.”
Taiwan peace plan. Musk says in an interview that Taiwan could ease hostilities with China by ceding some control back to the communist government in Beijing—which would contravene U.S. policy. China’s ambassador to the United States praises the idea. A Taiwanese official says,“our freedom and democracy are not for sale.” Geopolitical experts tell Musk to stick with cars and rockets.
Ukraine peace plan. Musk tweets a 42-word plan to bring peace to Ukraine, by formalizing Russia’s permanent annexation of the Crimea region and allowing other areas under Russian occupation to vote on which country they like best. Ukrainians go ballistic, because Musk’s plan is similar to Russia’s own talking points. Musk may have talked with Russian president Vladimir Putin or his representatives before tweeting the plan. Geopolitical experts tell Musk to stick with cars and rockets.
Twitter subscription plan. After completing his purchase of Twitter on October 27, Musk says Twitter would begin offering the desired blue-check “verification” badge to anybody who pays $8 per month. He also says he’ll repeal Twitter’s ban on Trump, and suggests there will be looser rules on posting bogus content. Many prominent tweeters have threatened to leave, and social-media experts say Musk should stick with cars and rockets. Except Musk is now in charge at Twitter.
Rick Newman is a senior columnist for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @rickjnewman
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