Confronting his fateful Tesla tweet, Elon Musk opened up about the difficult year he has faced, calling it the hardest of his professional life. Struggling to keep his composure, he said this past year has been “excruciating,” adding that the stress over his business has caused his health to deteriorate and that the worst is likely still ahead.
In an emotional interview with The New York Times, the chairman and chief executive of the electric-car maker Tesla said the year has only gotten more intense and stressful as he currently faces backlash for remarks he made on Twitter last week declaring he was considering privatizing his publicly traded company at $420 a share, causing a furor in the markets and within Tesla itself.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
In subsequent tweets, Musk asserted that he had “funding secured” for such a deal — a transaction likely to be worth more than $10 billion, The Times reported.
The controversial tweet has ignited a federal investigation and angered some board members, according to The Times, citing people familiar with the matter.
“This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” he said. “It was excruciating.”
Musk also revealed that the work-related stress caused him to spend his 47th birthday in June holed up in the Tesla factory as the company hastened to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model. Exhaustion and the workload also almost caused him to miss his brother’s wedding, he said.
Tesla posted a record $709.6 million net loss in the first quarter of 2018, while struggling to manufacture large numbers of its Model 3 mass-market electric car, The Guardian reported.
Model 3 traction testing on pure ice & snow https://t.co/knIg6JMNHO
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 12, 2018
“It’s not been great, actually. I’ve had friends come by who are really concerned,” he told The Times about how the stress is taking a toll on his health.
Some board members have expressed concern over Musk’s workload and also over his use of Ambien, The Times reported, citing two people familiar with the board.
Musk detailed the events leading up to the fateful Aug. 7 tweet: He woke up alongside his girlfriend, the musician known as Grimes, had an early workout, then got in a Tesla Model S and drove himself to the airport. On the way there, he turned to Twitter to share his intentions, he said in the interview.
Musk’s tweet may have broken 14e-8 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which prevents publicly traded companies from announcing plans to buy or sell securities if executives don’t intend to complete or are trying to manipulate the stock price, The Guardian reported. But Tesla’s shares immediately soared, rising by 11 percent.
On the other hand, the tweet caused investors to file a lawsuit against Musk, on grounds that his Twitter remarks were misleading and designed to “completely decimate” short-sellers, people who bet that Tesla’s shares will lose value, according to The Guardian‘s report.
In the interview, Musk said short-sellers were to blame, adding that he anticipates “extreme torture” from them in the months to come.
“I thought the worst of it was over,” he told The Times. “But from a personal standpoint, the worst is yet to come.”