Things might be far worse than they seem at Tesla Motors. Elon Musk reportedly threatened to “nuke” a former employee that resigned last year.
The incident occurred last September, and Musk has been accused of physically assaulting the ex-employee.
Elon Musk has been in and out of trouble over the last year. The fairy-tale story of Tesla Motors is beginning to look more like a mix between a film conceived by Quentin Tarantino and directed by Tim Burton.
Elon Musk Might be Feeling the Pressure
According to Bloomberg, its sources are divided on what actually happened. Tesla has told media that there was no “physical altercation”, though there is no word on how that term is defined at the company.
Tesla told Gizmoto that:
Elon did exit an employee at our Fremont delivery center last year due to concerns about his performance… (but reports of physical assault) are simply untrue as confirmed by numerous people that observed the incident first-hand.
While there may or may not have been physical assault, Elon Musk did tell the ex-employee that, “I will nuke you.”
Probably Not a Credible Threat
Elon Musk is known for his passion, and also likes to smoke cannabis. He smoked publicly last year on Joe Rogan’s podcast, but there were consequences.
Whether or not Elon Musk was under the influence of drugs last September when he threatened to nuke an ex-employee is unknowable, but it isn’t likely that Musk has access to actual nuclear weapons.
Elon Musk may have been high on drugs, stressed out, or both.
Regardless of his mental state, the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company is under a tremendous amount of scrutiny. Tesla Motors likely has a private security force, who would’ve saved Musk this public humiliation.
Instead of letting his rent-a-cops do their job, Elon Musk decided that he was going to take matters into his own hands. It ended with possible physical assault and absurd statements that invite questions about Musk’s mental state.
Part of a Bigger Picture
Like many of the new tech companies, Tesla Motors burns through money. While Tesla did have a few profitable quarters, the company is still a massive cash sucking machine.
Last month Goldman Sachs analyst David Tamberrino wrote that:
International deliveries have begun and are not progressing without some delays; when combined with our expectation that Model S/Model X deliveries disappoint (we lower our 1Q19 delivery forecast), we now expect a meaningful working capital headwind in 1Q19…and for quarter-ending cash to come closer to the $2bn mark.
For those of you that are keeping score, Tesla has continued to take on billions more in debt to fund expansions. While the company is still worth more than $45 billion USD, some of the debts that need to be paid this year will have to be settled in cash (not shares).
All of this adds up to a lot of stress, which may be getting the better of Elon Musk.