According to the report from Vanity Fair, employees would check in on the status of his SpaceX rocket launches and keep tabs on his social media before interacting with the third-richest man on the planet. Though Musk's many projects in space and terrestrial travel have built up an image of a King Midas of CEOs, a nerd who won, the profile paints a picture of a moody leader prone to bouts of sulking.
“On launch days, you have everyone at Tesla tuned in to see if the launch is successful, not because we are vested in the rockets, but because it directly impacts Elon’s mood for the next few days,” an executive at Tesla told Vanity Fair anonymously. “If there was a failure on a launch, there’d be hell to pay; you didn’t want to have a phone call set up with Elon afterward.”
That attitude was echoed further down the chain-of-command, with a former employee noting that they would check Musk's Twitter to keep tabs on his mood.
We all wake up and look at it every day, thinking, ‘Oh, God, now what?’ You really had no idea what you were going to see,” they said.
In the last several years, Musk's erratic behavior has landed himself and his businesses in hot water. He had to pay $40 million in fines and step down from his position as Tesla chairman after joking that he would take Tesla private at $420 a share. He had to settle a defamation lawsuit with a British cave diver after he very publicly accused him of being a pedophile. Some unnamed associates put the blame for rash behavior on drinks and drugs. As journalist Nick Bilton writes in his profile, “some people close to him believe his erratic behavior in 2020 was even more on display because he has taken to substances, including alcohol and marijuana, which he obsesses about on social media.”
Others still lay the blame at the kind of personality type that seeks to become so wealthy in the first place.
“All of these guys, I’ve spent time with them, Musk, Zuck, all of them; they all exhibit tendencies of total and complete pathological sociopathy," an anonymous insider said. "They don’t at their core give a flying fuck about you or me as individuals.”
Musk did himself no favors in his own response to Bilton's request for comment.
"Vanity Fair sucks," he said.