‘I could be drinking Mai Tai’s with naked supermodels but instead I’m here with you!’ Elon Musk’s explosive temper and chaotic meltdowns that left overworked Tesla staff fired on the spot are revealed in new book

  • Elon Musk’s explosive temper during the development of Tesla’s Model X SUV in 2016 is described in  a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins
  • Musk shouted at an executive who was bold enough to tell him that exhausted employees should be allowed some time off  
  • ‘I can be on my own private island with naked supermodels, drinking Mai Tai’s – but I’m not,’ the Tesla boss told his overworked staff  
  • Few were spared Musk’s meltdowns and he would fire people on a whim, including his personal assistant of 12 years who he fired for asking for a raise 
  • The incident was one of many blow ups from Musk, the book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century claims
  • ‘And while Musk’s vision, enthusiasm, and determination carry Tesla; his ego, paranoia, and pettiness threaten to undo it all,’ writes the author   
  • The book says that Musk was ‘trying to see [Amber Heard] as much as possible’, even if it meant flying to Australia for a few hours then returning to the US

Elon Musk’s explosive temper toward Tesla staff and chaotic meltdowns are revealed in a new book describing how he once told his overworked staff they have no right to complain because, ‘I can be on my own private island with naked supermodels, drinking Mai Tai’s – but I’m not.’

Musk even shouted at an executive who had the temerity to tell him that exhausted employees should be allowed some time off in 2016.  

Musk said: ‘I’m in the factory working my a** off, so I don’t want to hear about how hard everyone else in the factory works.’ 

The incident happened during the development of Tesla’s Model X SUV but was one of many blow ups from Musk, whose temper was explosive as he pursued his dream of building a commercially viable electric car.

According to the book, Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century by Wall Street Journal reporter Tim Higgins, Musk went ballistic at a lobbyist for car dealerships in Texas who argued against Tesla selling direct to consumers, telling his staff: ‘Get that guy the f*** out of here’.

A new book reveals Elon Musk’s explosive temper during the development of Tesla’s Model X SUV in 2016

The Tesla plant in Fremont, California is seen above. Musk shouted at an executive who was bold enough to tell him that exhausted employees should be allowed some time off

Musk screamed at one group of engineers that their work was ‘complete s***’, adding that each person had to tell him ‘who the f*** you are and what the f*** you’re doing to fix my goddamn (production) line’.

To another unfortunate employee, Musk said: ‘I thought I fired you yesterday.’

Power Play by Wall Street Journal tech and auto reporter Higgins also sheds new light on how deeply Musk fell for Amber Heard.

The incident was one of many blow ups from Musk, the book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century by reporter Tim Higgins claims

The book says that during 2016 he was ‘trying to see her as much as possible,’ even if it meant leaving himself shattered by flying to Australia for a few hours in her company then returning to the US.

Reports of Musk’s temper have only added to the myth around a man whose stewardship Tesla has reached a market valuation of $31 billion and revolutionized the car industry.

Musk, whose other projects include his SpaceX rocketship company, was motivated by a ‘relentless drive’ to produce an affordable and reliable electric car, Higgins writes.

He would sleep on the factory floor and gave interviews in T-shirts he hadn’t changed in three days.

Higgins describes Musk’s way of operating as the ‘ultimate game of chicken’: sell investors and consumers on his vision just enough that he could stay ahead of creditors, competitors and regulators.

Higgins writes: ‘And while Musk’s vision, enthusiasm, and determination carry Tesla; his ego, paranoia, and pettiness threaten to undo it all’. 

Few were spared from Musk’s meltdowns and he would fire people on a whim, including his personal assistant of 12 years who he reportedly sacked for asking for a raise. Musk has denied this.   

Musk once emailed his staff that he expected them to be ‘ultra hardcore’ and said that ‘revolutionizing industries is not for the faint of heart.’

In 2007 Musk was so angry at his team in Detroit during the production of the company’s luxury Roadster car he told Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard: ‘Fire all of them. Every one of them.’

The author writes that Musk would sleep on the factory floor and gave interviews in T-shirts he hadn’t changed in three days

Eberhard ignored Musk but soon the axe came for him too – in brutal fashion.

Musk offered Eberhard six months of salary worth $100,000 and an option to buy 250,000 shares if he accepted the deal that day.

If he didn’t then he would get nothing. Eberhard signed.

Another early victim of Musk’s temper was Jessica Switzer, who ran marketing for Tesla and made the mistake of hiring a PR firm to drum up publicity for the launch of the Roadster and was dismissed because Musk thought it was a waste of money.

When a New York Times story referred to Eberhard as chairman and not his new, diminished role of President – and didn’t mention Musk at all – Musk emailed the PR firm.

In 2007 Musk was so angry at his team in Detroit during the production of the company’s luxury Roadster car he told Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard (pictured), ‘Fire all of them. Every one of them’. Eberhard ignored Musk but soon the axe came for him too 

He wrote: ‘I was incredibly insulted and embarrassed by the NY Times article.

‘If anything like this happens again, please consider (your) relationship with Tesla to end immediately upon publication of such a piece.’

The Roadster proved that Tesla could make an electric car: the next car, the Model S, proved that they could mass produce one.

But the process was painful and Musk took out his frustration on his senior managers, once telling one of them: ‘This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Don’t ever show it to me again.’

A week later the manager was fired.

In 2016 Musk’s staff on the factory floor at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California were in ‘revolt’ after months of tension about having to work weekends at short notice.

Higgins writes: ‘At the end of the assembly line one evening, (Vice President Josh) Ensign and Musk got into a heated debate about giving the workers time off.

‘The factory boss made the case that the team needed to rest. Ensign’s entire argument seemed to set Musk off.

‘I can be on my own private island with naked supermodels, drinking mai tais, but I’m not,’ Musk bellowed. ‘I’m in the factory working my a** off, so I don’t want to hear about how hard everyone else in the factory works.’

‘And with that Musk stomped off,’ Higgins writes. 

Musk wanted to call the next Tesla car the Model E because he wanted the letters of their models to spell S-E-X – the previous model was called S.

It turned out Ford had the trademark for the Model E so they called it the Model 3 instead.

But production for the Model 3 was even more difficult as the stakes were higher.

In a Tweet Musk refuted many of the claims in Power Play, saying: ‘Higgins managed to make his book both false *and* boring’

Higgins backed up his reporting, saying Musk had plenty of opportunities to comment on the explosive new book 

Musk had set the ambitious goal of delivering 100,000 Model 3s by the end of September 2018, more cars than the company sold in the entire prior year.

Musk himself has referred to this period of production as ‘hell’ and during this time he was sleeping at the factory or pulling all night shifts because of constant problems.

According to Higgins, one evening Musk ‘summoned to a conference room a group of engineers who were focused on making the assembly line work.’

Power Play says: ‘He stormed in and proceeded to tell them all that their work was ‘complete s***.’ 

‘He ordered each person to go around the room and tell him ”who the f*** you are and what the f*** you’re doing to fix my goddamn line.”

As he berated the team, one of the engineers had had enough and quit to Musk’s face.

Higgins claims that Musk ‘screamed as the young engineer walked out.’

He writes:’ In another meeting, Musk walked in to find a manager that he’d grown unhappy with and said: ‘I thought I fired you yesterday.’

Around this time a senior sales manager quit after two years with the company, a decision which reached Musk and sent him into a rage.

At the Fremont delivery center, he approached the manager ‘screaming profanities as he towered over him, telling him to leave.’

Musk said: ‘I don’t want anyone here who is going to quit on me during a time as important as now’.

Musk followed the man into the parking lot in a scene that was ‘ugly and public enough that the board ultimately felt a need to investigate, amid accusations that Musk had physically pushed the manager.’

No action against Musk was taken.

One of the ways in which Tesla changed the auto industry was by selling direct to consumers in its own showrooms, rather than working with existing dealerships.

As Tesla tried to move into Texas, Musk had a meeting with Bill Wolters, a long time lobbyist for car dealerships, to see if they could work together.

It devolved into a shouting match with Musk saying: ‘I’m going to spend a fu**ing billion dollars to overturn the dealer franchise laws in America.’

Wolters shot back: ‘The quality and safety of every Texan in my state, 28 million people, depends on the franchise dealer network.’

Musk jumped up and left the room, slamming the door and saying: ‘Get that guy the f*** out of here!’

Musk would later tell people that Wolters accused him of being un-American, a claim Wolters denies. 

Elon Musk refused to publicly apologize for the ‘pedo guy’ comment he tweeted at Vernon Unsworth (pictured), the British diver who rescued young Thai soccer players trapped in a flooded cave because he was worried doing so would make him look cowardly, according to a new book 

Musk’s bravado led to him calling Vernon Unsworth a ‘pedo’ in an online spat about which submarine to use in 2018 to rescue 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand 

Musk’s use of Twitter got him into trouble too.

Musk freely interacts with fans on the social media site and uses it to comment on everything from cryptocurrency to SpaceX.

In a Tweet Musk refuted many of the claims in Power Play, saying: ‘Higgins managed to make his book both false *and* boring’.

Musk’s bravado led to him calling British caver Vernon Unsworth a ‘pedo’ in an online spat about which submarine to use in 2018 to rescue 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.

In an email to a Buzzfeed reporter, Musk said: ‘I f****** hope he sues me.’

Unsworth sued for $190million in a defamation case but Musk won after his lawyer argued his comments were a joke.

Musk got into a row with Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple, in 2016 when Cook called Musk to suggest Apple buy Tesla.

Musk expressed his interest in the idea but had one condition, telling Cook: ‘I’m CEO.’

Cook at first thought Musk meant that he wanted to remain CEO of Tesla after the merger, and said that he was not opposed to the idea.

But when Musk clarified that he expected to take Cook’s job as Apple CEO, Cook responded

‘F*** you’ and hung up, according to Power Play.

As Musk’s fame grew, his personal life grew increasingly colourful – he has seven children with three different women.

After his divorce from his first wife Justine collapsed, Musk married actress Talulah Riley twice before they split for good.

The book says that during 2016, Musk was ‘trying to see [Amber Heard] as much as possible’, even if it meant leaving himself shattered by flying to Australia for a few hours in her company then returning to the US

In 2016 Musk began dating Amber Heard during her bitter split from husband Johnny Depp but their relationship put his already strained life under impossible stress.

Higgins writes that Musk was well known for needing little sleep but with Heard he ‘seemed to be stretching his already vexing schedule to accommodate her’.

Higgins writes: ‘He was taking seemingly spur-of-the-moment trips to Australia aboard his jet, where she was filming the movie Aquaman, and returning after spending very little time on the ground’.

While Tesla was scrambling to produce the Model X and the Model 3, Musk was spotted by the tabloids with Heard at nightclubs in London and Miami.

Higgins writes: ‘He commented during staff meetings that the travel was getting to him. It was clear to those around him that he was trying to see her as much as possible.’

‘Lack of sleep is not a thing for him, he operates on a fine level with a couple hours of sleep a night’, one longtime aide said.

‘The thing that was more taxing on him was all of the travel and the various time zones’.

Musk and Heard eventually split and he is currently with the musician Grimes, with whom he has a one-year-old son who he gave the colorful name X Æ A-Xii.

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