Elon Musk Opens up About the "Excruciating" Year He's Had

Randal Sanchez
August 20, 2018

Tesla shares dropped almost 9 percent in value Friday, amid reports of CEO and co-founder Elon Musk meeting with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Musk repeatedly teared up during the Times interview, telling the newspaper that he nearly missed his brother's wedding as he worked 120-hour weeks and referring to an "excruciating" period of trying to meet the company's vehicle production goals.

In an unusually personal and emotional interview, the electric vehicle maker's chairman and chief executive said he is exhausted after a year of controversy.

Investors must have gotten unnerved.

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.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating Tesla for misleading statements about its Model 3 for months, unnamed sources in the know told the Wall Street Journal, long before CEO Elon Musk attracted the watchdog's attention with his tweet about taking Tesla private.

The Tesla board also briefly sought out a strong No. 2 to Musk - but has given up on that endeavor, according to the Times report.

Mr Musk opened up to the newspaper about the personal toll he says he has endured, working marathon hours trying to ensure that deadlines are met, with Tesla ramping up production of its crucial Model 3 sedan.

SEC spokeswoman Judith Burns and a Tesla spokesman declined to comment. "They can have the reins right now", he told the paper. The tweet reportedly has spurred an investigation by securities regulators.

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Most of the company's board members have ties and relationships with Musk, but Elson and Gordon say they also have a fiduciary duty to all the other shareholders.

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. During a conference call earlier this year, he got testy with analysts over a perceived cash crunch at Tesla, scolding them for "boring questions".

Aug 14: Tesla board forms special committee but has not received a formal proposal.

The controversy over the August 7 tweet is among several Musk, who also runs aerospace company SpaceX, has weathered this year.

Musk's revealing interview, and the subsequent reports about Tesla, gave the internet a lot of material for jokes and reactions.

Aug 15: Tesla is said to have received a subpoena from the SEC. Add Elon Musk as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Elon Musk news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

During the interview, Musk maintained that his social media post was based on repeated and ongoing assurances that the official sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi Arabian government was interested in bankrolling a buyout.

He said he is bracing 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". But much of it comes from Musk's own pronouncements, such as lofty goals for production of cars or turning a sustained profit starting this quarter, that might be beyond reach. So short-sellers only benefit when the company - and Musk himself - fails.

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