Elon Musk outburst raises drug 'concerns' for Tesla chiefs

Tesla's stock price slid for a fourth straight day as investors digested reports of a federal securities probe and CEO Elon Musk's emotional interview with the New York Times.

In an interview with the New York Times, Musk said he typically works as many as 120 hours a week, and that it's been almost 20 years since he took a week-long vacation. "The worst is yet to come", he said about his personal pain after describing how he spent the full 24 hours of his 47th birthday working and nearly missed his brother's wedding two days later.

Investors must have gotten unnerved.

Musk sparked a furore in the markets, the media and among investors earlier this month when he tweeted his intentions to take his publicly traded company private, with the assurance: "Funding secured".

Tesla produced 5,031 Model 3 electric cars in the last seven days of the second quarter, the company said in early July, meeting its long-elusive production target after several hiccups. In a very recent interview given to the New York Times, Musk says that the workload has taken on his personal life. The billionaire told the Times that no one at Tesla reviewed his tweet, which he said he typed while driving himself to the airport. Reports following the tweet have indicated that, while talks have been initiated, funding has not been secured. "Weed is not helpful for productivity", he told the Times.

Musk has reportedly begun using the sleep-aid drug Ambien in order to rest: "It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien", stated Musk.

Musk told the Times there is now no "active search" for a No. 2 executive at the company, although a couple years ago, Musk approached Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg about the position.

Tesla seems to finally be getting its biggest technical challenge under control: Model 3 production.

The controversy over the August 7 tweet is among several Musk, who also runs aerospace company SpaceX, has weathered this year.

But the personal cost appears to have taken a toil on Musk.

If Tesla directors are anxious about Musk - and they should be - here is advice for them: Do your jobs.

According to the Times' story, which was published on Thursday, Musk "agreed not to tweet again about the possible privatization deal unless he had discussed it" with Tesla's board.

Federal authorities in the United States summoned a Tesla investigation to find out whether Elon Musk told the truth when he wrote on Twitter last week that he had secured the necessary funding to withdraw the electric auto manufacturer from stock market.

Amid mounting questions about such a deal, Musk said that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund had expressed interest in participating.

The 47-year-old said he sometimes did not leave the Tesla factory for three or four days straight and he had not taken off more than a week at a time since he was sick with malaria in 2001. "Is there someone who can do the job better?" He said he was girding for "at least a few months of extreme torture from the short-sellers, who are desperately pushing a narrative that will possibly result in Tesla's destruction".

Elson said most of the company's directors have relationships with Musk, who owns about 20 percent of the company.

  • David Armstrong