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Vanity Fair: Elon Musk's public persona is different from the workaholic on Tesla's factory floor
Posted on May 14, 2018 by Matt Pressman
After Elon Musk's curious behavior on Tesla's recent earnings conference call, many are (rightfully) confused. And Musk's provocative comments on Twitter haven't done anything to quell the controversy. Nick Bilton (via Vanity Fair) explains that, "Musk is notoriously hard to decipher. He has fun with his Tony Stark image, and does so in public." Nevertheless, Musk is all business on the factory floor.
Above: Elon Musk at Tesla's factory (Image: Wikipedia Commons)
According to Bilton, "From insiders I’ve spoken to at Tesla... the perception of what’s going on inside and outside the company are two very different things. Musk has constantly been seen on the factory floors at Tesla over the last few months, several people say, working alongside engineers and factory workers, and toiling away on Model 3 production-related roadblocks. More than one person has confirmed that he literally sleeps two hours a night, often at the office."
Okay, so what about Musk's much-publicized date with edgy, electro artist Grimes? Bilton notes, "His attendance at the Met Gala (alongside Canadian pop star Grimes) was reportedly the only day he hasn’t been present at, or involved with, work in months. (He apparently returned to work at 5 A.M. the following morning.). As for those tweets? They’re just noise."
Above: Work hard, play hard — Elon Musk and Grimes at the Met Gala (Youtube: Access Video TV)
And Bilton argues that "part of the problem with Musk is not really Musk’s fault. It’s the failing of the media, and social media, too. The comparisons to Iron Man are hyperbolic and unsophisticated... [a] more fitting comparison between [for instance, Steve] Jobs and Musk really comes down to their singular identifications with the companies that they created. Of all the people I’ve spoken to about Musk, no one questions his generational brilliance, and his ability to do the things he says he’s going to do."
But with all this background noise, "you have to wonder if maybe it’s time for Musk to place all the amazing ideas for candy companies and flamethrowers in his Twitter drafts folder, and fix what is arguably the most important automotive company to emerge in decades." In reality, "Is Tesla flirting with disaster, or is Musk just playing games?"
Above: Outside Tesla's factory (Image: Tesla)
Bilton concludes, "it’s going to take some real ingenuity to fix the company’s [production] problems as quickly as they need to be fixed. Musk, as ever, is the man for this moment... Everyone I’ve talked to conceded the same point: the only person they think can get Tesla through these issues is Musk. Let’s just hope he realizes that, too."
Source: Vanity Fair