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Is Elon Musk Cracking Up? An Investigation


PayPal founder Elon Musk has always played the role of eccentric billionaire rather convincingly. Last year, he tweeted that he planned to circumvent Los Angeles traffic by digging a bunch of tunnels. A few months later Bloomberg confirmed that he had actually launched a boring company that was in the middle of digging a giant pit, a decision he made in the spur of the moment.

But lately, Musk has been a little extra. His tweets have been more erratic than normal over the past week, coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally) around the same time President Trump announced the United States would withdraw its participation in the Paris climate accord.

He tweeted this Tuesday night, in reference to a statement he had made explaining his erratic tweets during Tesla’s shareholder meeting on Monday.

I’m not a record aficionado myself, but I have a hunch that record owners don’t make a point of calling their record players “vintage.”

As Forbes’s Bertel Schmitt explains, many of Musks’s plans for the car company — including his announcement that Tesla is going to build a new factory in an undetermined location in order to crank out SUVs by 2019 — are just as insane as his tweets.

Such a schedule could only be made under heavy doses of red wine, vintage records, and Ambien. Permit to completion, a single family house can take a year. A new car plant takes anywhere from three to five years from ground breaking to car making. Depending on the location, permitting could add another year. Musk doesn’t even know where that new Gigafactory will be, and he wants it to make cars in two years? It takes a lot of drugs and alcohol to come up with such a plan, preferably with ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ on the turntable, or elsewhere.

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Anywhere else in the auto industry, if you would announce plans like that, you would be submitted to a drug test, and fired. Anywhere else in the auto industry, you would design modular platforms that underpin many models, so that you don’t have to develop the same 80% of the car again and again. Anywhere in the auto industry, eight models and more roll off the same line, maximizing CapEx and capacity. Of course, if you build your cars from tangerine trees, marmalade skies, and a fistful of pills, and if you are high on a $60 billion valuation of your company, such rules do not apply.

This isn’t the first time Musk has made pie-in-the-sky promises to his investors, which often go unfulfilled. In March, SpaceX announced it planned to send two tourists to the moon by next year, a laughable goal. As I wrote back then, Musk’s companies don’t have a good track record of keeping their promises. SpaceX has repeatedly missed deadlines to send NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and keeps blowing up expensive payloads.

The day before the big Tesla investor meeting, Musk suggested he doesn’t wear underwear.


He then jokingly took credit for the company’s stock increase, which happened to occur after his underpants revelation.

If you have to explain a metaphor, it probably isn’t a very good one.

He then posted a photo of himself and made a weird, nonsensical joke about how Telsa went public 1,000 years ago.

Tesla shareholder meeting today. Can’t believe it’s been 1000 years since we went public.

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

He then tried to explain the joke in a subsequent tweet, saying that the photo is black and white because they didn’t have color photos 1,000 years ago. But 1,000 years ago there was no film, so. . . haha. . ?

He later quipped that he looked good for being 500 years old.

But it doesn’t make any sense that he would be younger than his own company. Even in the context of this very odd joke, this tweet is mind-bogglingly weird.

One of his followers played along and asked Musk what his secret is to looking so young for being 500 years old, which the PayPal founder said has to do with a stringent skincare routine.

This sounds eerily similar to Christian Bale’s character’s morning routine in “American Psycho.”

This brings me to the question at hand: is Musk losing it? Are his tweets, his sleeping pill and wine cocktail confessions, and boring machines a desperate cry for help, or just a joke? What is not funny about any of his actions is the fact that my tax dollars are funding his eccentricities. American taxpayers have given Musk somewhere upwards of $4.9 billion in federal funds alone. Call me crazy, but I am not a fan of eccentric behavior I’m forced to fund.