Musk’s Long Road to Mars: How Poor Planning Dogged the Development of SpaceX RocketRead Now

Elon Musk in front of a SpaceX rocket launch. Photos by Getty Images.

Elon Musk’s Management Style Is a Threat to Global Democracy

By  |  Oct. 19, 2022 9:00 AM PDT
Photo: Elon Musk in front of a SpaceX rocket launch. Photos by Getty Images.

Elon Musk’s management style is notoriously impulsive, toxic and cruel. Onetime employees describe being “tossed to the curb like a piece of litter,” the result of Musk’s “complete lack of loyalty or human connection.” This coldness hasn’t been reserved just for middle management or low-level workers. In 15 years, Tesla has cycled through almost a dozen general counsels. “Maybe it was calculated to keep the rest of the workforce on their toes and scared,” an anonymous former Tesla employee told Musk biographer Ashlee Vance in 2015. “Maybe he was just able to detach from human connection to a remarkable degree.”

Anecdotes like these—and far weirder—have surrounded Musk for decades, almost always with an asterisk: Maybe this was all part of Musk’s master plan. Were his sociopathic actions proof of mad genius or just madness? The value of his companies kept going up, and sometimes his sociopathic management style worked. In 2013, Musk fired many of Tesla’s top lawyers with one sweep and promoted his divorce attorney, Todd Maron, to run the multibillion-dollar company; he turned out to be a good manager, sources inside the company say, and served as general counsel for five years.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
Exclusive entertainment
How Reddit Grew Its Ad Business, Bolstering IPO Hopes
Art by Shane Burke. Photos via Reddit/Shutterstock.
While whiling away the hours on Call of Duty and other videogames, gamers love to chew on Kraft Singles. At least, that’s what research done by food giant Kraft Heinz implies. So to drive more sales of the individually wrapped pieces of processed cheese, Kraft Heinz targeted gaming interest groups on Reddit and launched an ad in the form of a discussion thread: “How to Keep Melty...
Latest Briefs
 
NYT Co’s Digital Ad Revenues Weaken in Q4
UK Regulator Warns it May Block Microsoft-Activision Deal
Goldman Sachs Asset Management Closes $5.2 Billion Growth Fund
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
The supplement stacks of 11 founders and investors. Photos courtesy of subjects.
The Big Read culture
The Supplement Stacks: All the Pills, Powders and Potions Filling Tech’s Kitchen Counters
When Courtney Reum wakes up in his Los Angeles home, it’s time to freeze, shake and dangle upside down.
Verily headquarters in San Francisco. Photo by AP.
Exclusive google
Revenues Rise at Alphabet’s Biggest ‘Other Bet’ But So Do Losses
Verily, by far the biggest Alphabet unit by revenue after Google, continues to post heavy losses, according to previously undisclosed financial information.
Art by Clark Miller.
The 1:1 google
‘We Just Have to Keep Winning’: A Sonos Executive With a Colorful History Goes to War Against Google
A few months into his job as chief legal officer of Sonos, Eddie Lazarus was ready to wage war. When Lazarus joined the audio hardware company in late 2018, it was facing growing competition from tech giants like Amazon and Google.
John and Patrick Collison. Photos by Bloomberg.
markets startups
Stripe Walks Tightrope to Stay Private. Could Other Firms Follow?
Thirteen years after starting Stripe, chief executive Patrick Collison is raising his company’s largest ever slug of cash from venture capitalists.
Illustration by Clark Miller.
Opinion startups
Stop Paying People So Much
Every startup leadership team wrestles with the trade-offs between growth and profitability. This is fitting and ever shall be.
Photo via Getty
Dealmaker venture capital
A New Bubble Is Forming for AI Startups, But Don’t Expect a Crypto-like Pop
Venture capitalists have dumped crypto and moved on to a new fascination: artificial intelligence. As a sign of this frenzy, they're paying steep prices for startups that are little more than ideas.