Musk gets teary in ‘incredible’ interview
IF YOU didn't know by now, Elon Musk has a lot on his plate.
So if he's taking Ambien to help him sleep, or smoking weed live on the internet, who can really blame the guy? Sure, it's not standard behaviour among billionaire CEOs but that's why we like him.
However an interview he did with 60 Minutes this week had some viewers questioning his emotional stability. It's understandable to get choked up when talking about how long hours at the office have taken a toll on your private and social life, like he did in an August interview with The New York Times.
But in his latest TV appearance, the Tesla and SpaceX boss appeared to get emotional about his tweets.
The outspoken Musk is a big fan of sharing his thoughts and ideas on the social media platform, often engaging with fans and critics alike. The habit recently cost him $US20 million in fines for stock manipulation after he misleadingly tweeted that he planned to take Tesla private. The electric car company also had to pay a $US20 million over the tweet.
When asked by 60 Minutes presenter Lesley Stahl if somebody at the company was reviewing his Twitter messages before they went out, Musk's response was a little strange.
In a playful manner, Musk referred to Twttier as a war zone, essentially saying all is fair in love and war. But he appeared more serious when asked if his tweets were being overseen - a requirement of his settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over his misleading outbursts.
"The only tweets that would have to be reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock," he said.
"Otherwise it's ... hello First Amendment. Freedom of speech is fundamental."
The presenter then raised a valid question: "But how do they know if it's going to move the market if they're not reading all of them before you send them?"
"I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?" Musk replied.
At this point, Lesley Stahl couldn't help herself. "Are you serious?" she laughed in his face.
Musk then got much more serious. "I want to be clear. I do no respect the SEC. I do not respect them," he said.
After the interview was aired, Tesla said in a statement that the company is complying with the SEC settlement. The part that requires pre-approval of communications that could affect the stock price technically must be in place by December 28, the company pointed out.
THE AUSSIE TASKED WITH REINING IN MUSK
The Tesla CEO - who owns about 20 per cent of the company - also dismissed the idea that the company's new Australian chairwoman can exert control over his behaviour.
Robyn Denholm, an executive at Australia's legacy telco provider Telstra, was appointed chairwoman of Tesla's board last month, replacing Musk of as part of the settlement with Wall Street regulators. But Musk said "it's not realistic" to expect Denholm to watch over his actions because he remains the electric car company's largest shareholder.
"It's not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company," he said in the interview, adding that a large percentage of shareholders support him and all he needs is about one-third of them.
"I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want," he said.
Denholm's appointment in November drew a mixed response from corporate governance experts, who praised her financial expertise but questioned her ability to carve out an independent path for a board that has been dominated by Musk.
He told 60 Minutes that he had hand-picked Denholm. The SEC settlement would allow Musk to return as chairman after three years, subject to shareholder approval.
Amid the erratic behaviour of its CEO, Tesla delivered on promises to accelerate production of its pivotal Model 3 sedan, progress seen as essential to the company's ability to repay $US1.3 billion in debt due within the next six months. The company also fulfilled a pledge to make money during the third quarter, and Musk has said he expects the company to remain profitable.
- With AP