“I’m worried about me too,” says the billionaire CEO, who is asking for “public support.”
It is a cry from the heart.
It is a cry that brings back a similar call already heard more than four years ago.
This cry is launched by Elon Musk, the former richest man in the world.
Since the end of October and the finalization of his acquisition of Twitter, the billionaire has been involved in five major companies. Three of them — Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter — play highly symbolic roles in their respective fields of activity. The other two companies are Neuralink and The Boring Company.
He thus found himself with several challenges to overcome. The very first is to make Twitter profitable as soon as possible because he has gone into debt to the tune of $13 billion to finance the deal which cost him $44 billion.
Musk Fights to Save Twitter
Musk reversed the debt that comes with interest payments of around $1.5 billion a year in interest to the balance sheet of Twitter, a firm that was losing money before he bought it. In 2021, the platform had posted a net loss of $221.4 million.
At the beginning of November he launched a drastic cost-cut effort, including eliminating half the workforce, or 3,750 people, in one day. Musk had also asked the remaining employees to work without counting their hours or to resign. More than a thousand additional employees chose to leave. In total, the company has lost 5,200 employees.
“This company is like, basically, you are in a plane that is headed toward the ground at high speed with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work,” the tech mogul said during a Twitter Spaces in December. “That’s the reason for my actions that may seem sometimes spurious.”
The billionaire’s mission has also been complicated by self-inflicted wounds such as reactivating nearly every account that had been suspended for violating the platform’s safeguards on xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and the dissemination of misinformation.
The tech tycoon’s laissez-faire approach to content management caused an exodus of advertisers. In early November, Musk reported that Twitter was losing $4 million a day.
Tesla Had Awful 2022
The takeover of Twitter and Musk’s repeated attacks on Democrats began to impact Tesla, which was already suffering from the billionaire selling shares to finance the deal and from a very unfavorable economic environment for tech companies.
Tesla’s stock market rout — 65% of the automaker’s stock price melted last year — opened a new front of criticism against the billionaire. He was the subject of violent public criticism from prominent shareholders like Ross Gerber and Leo KoGuan who held him responsible for the disappearance of more than $600 billion of market value.
These harsh criticisms prompted him to resign as CEO of Twitter. His net worth, which is tied to his stakes in Tesla and SpaceX, was wiped out by the automotive group’s stock market crash. He lost his crown as the richest man in the world.
But at the same time it was up to him to get Twitter out of the financial disaster and to reassure Tesla investors. The automaker’s roadmap is very busy in the coming months with the start of production of the highly anticipated Cybertruck. Tesla has no room for error because this vehicle is supposed to become the cash cow for the next few years.
SpaceX is building the heavy launcher Starship with which Musk wants to conquer the planet Mars. Starship must eventually transport a hundred passengers on long interplanetary flights, in particular to the Moon and Mars, the billionaire had said.
Besides running these companies, Musk also had to face two civil trials in which he testified. In one of the trials, Tesla investors accused him of fraud over tweets from 2018 in which he claimed to have secured funds to take Tesla private. He was acquitted on Feb. 3 by a jury in this case. The other lawsuit concerns the generous compensation package granted to him by Tesla. The verdict in this case is still awaited.
Juggle between processes while carrying out all the projects of its companies at the same time would be nearly impossible for many entrepreneurs, but for Musk. The billionaire, however, has just admitted that the last few months have been almost hell.
“Last 3 months were extremely tough, as had to save Twitter from bankruptcy, while fulfilling essential Tesla & SpaceX duties,” he wrote on Feb. 5, as a comment of an article of the Wall Street Journal that chronicles his challenges. “Wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone.”
“Twitter still has challenges, but is now trending to breakeven if we keep at it.”
Musk then did what he rarely does: he asks for everyone’s support.
“Public support is much appreciated!”
It was then that a Twitter user asked if the current period was as bad as 2008.
“Worse than 2008 or production hell?” the user asked.
“Similar,” the billionaire responded.
When another Twitter user told him to take care of himself because the world needs him, Musk was quick to say he was also concerned about his health.
“Please be safe& take care, the world needs you, Elon,” the user said.
“I’m worried about me too,” the tech mogul responded, with a smile.
Back in 2018, Musk said in interviews that Tesla was “close to death” during the troubled ramp-up of the mass market Model 3. He indicated at the time that he was sleeping in the factory and called the Model 3 buildout “production hell.”
“No one should put this many hours into work,” Musk declared back then. “This is not good. It was very painful. It hurts my brain and my heart.”