Inside Elon Musk’s World: He’s Going Mad and Everyone Knows It

Vanity Fair profile on Elon Musk paints him as a man slowly losing all grasp of reality, going insane 1 photo
Photo: Vanity Fair
If you disagree with anything Elon Musk says or does, it’s no skin off his nose. You suck.
As Twitter-happy as the Tesla CEO is, he remains one of the most controversial, misunderstood and secretive public figures of today. That’s because, despite being the third richest man in the world (worth around $108 billion as of last month) and the brains behind Tesla, SpaceX and other notable companies, he refuses to play by the rules. Of the industry or common sense.

Tesla no longer has a media department and, as of December 2019, when Musk won the lawsuit against a profession diver he’d called “pedo guy” on Twitter, he’s been blocking journalists and media outlets that dare critique any of his companies’ products or initiatives, or even objectively report on the negative stuff. The only way to get to know Elon is through his words and his actions, and neither paint a favorable picture.

The December 2020 issue of Vanity Fair is trying to lift the veil into Musk’s world, for a possible glimpse into what makes the most brilliant, ultimately well-meaning and yet completely “bats**t crazy” CEO, “Silicon Valley’s most vainglorious villain” tick. Should Musk himself ever get the chance to peruse the profile, he’d probably throw a fit – and it would be on Twitter, too.

Chances are, though, that he never will. Contacted for comment before the story went to press, he kindly informed the reporter that, you guessed it, “Vanity Fair sucks.”

Several former executives and aides, who have known or worked for Musk over the years, are telling the publication that the erratic, often confusing and highly controversial Musk we’re seeing today through his tweets and rare statements is the Musk of always, just unfiltered by intent. In what is probably a first in the industry, Musk, a high-profile public figure, has stopped caring about what people think of him.

That in itself wouldn’t be a terrible thing, if it didn’t translate into chaos backstage at Tesla and SpaceX. The same insiders say trouble started in the summer of 2018 (“the Summer of 420,” they’re calling it), when Musk gave in to alcohol and drug abuse, and started unraveling under all the pressure. That’s the definite moment in time when everyone working under Musk started dreading what the new day would bring – and would religiously check Twitter in the morning, for clues to that.

“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,” one former exec says on the record. Anonymously, of course.

But things are way more serious than that. Other employees talk of a clear Jr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde-type of situation happening at work, where they dread having to deal with Musk-Hyde. One particular person who seems to know him on a personal level talks of actual tendencies of pathological sociopathy.

“There is a high level of degenerate behavior with Elon. There’s a paranoia: Are you with me or against me? I genuinely want to leave the room sometimes when he walks in,” that person says. “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. They don’t at their core give a flying f**k about you or me as individuals.” Lest you think of Musk as a “bully.”

Other insiders note that Tesla has been losing talent in top positions, and that many of those people leaving did so as a direct result of Musk’s behavior over the past two years, specifically. Not that this is putting a damper on Musk’s ambitions or accomplishments: the irony of it all is that it’s precisely these two years that have been the most filled with accomplishments for the reportedly troubled CEO, including carrying Tesla to the coveted position of the world’s most valuable car company.

One could argue that, in the end, these accomplishments is all we, the general public, should care about, at least in theory. As long as Musk’s company puts people into space or maybe even colonizes Mars for when Earth is inevitably destroyed, and Tesla continues making EVs to do away with our reliance on fossil fuels, who gives a rat’s rear-end whether he as a person is a madman howling at the moon?

In real life, though, things don’t work that way. And it would be a crying shame if what’s happening behind the scenes is even half as bad as this piece makes it sound.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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