Elon Musk appears to be hitting his stride in his social media use once more. Since announcing that Tesla would remain publicly traded, Musk has been his charming self on the social media platform, even clarifying his demeanor during his fateful interview with the New York Times earlier this month.
The past month has been quite difficult and stressful for Elon Musk, and just like Tesla’s struggles with the Model 3 ramp, much of his stress were pretty much self-inflicted. Musk found himself in the middle of controversy after he announced on Twitter that he was considering taking the company private at $420 per share, and that he had “funding secured.” In the weeks that followed, Tesla was attacked by a fresh wave of criticism from dedicated short-sellers and at some point, even the mainstream media. SEC investigations were reportedly started, and lawsuits were reportedly filed against Musk as well.
Tesla is now dealing with the aftermath of the privatization attempt and its subsequent cancelation, but during the height of the go-private drama, Musk opted to give an interview to the New York Times. The interview, which reportedly lasted an hour, featured Musk discussing the events that led up to his tweet about Tesla’s privatization attempt, as well as his struggles in the weeks that followed after. The NYT piece was extensive, though it included more references to unnamed sources than it did of Musk’s actual statements. What’s more, the piece painted a picture of a man who was on the verge of a breakdown, with the article stating that during the course of the interview, “Mr. Musk alternated between laughter and tears” and that the CEO “choked up multiple times” while talking about the difficulties he was facing.
Musk’s depiction in the NYT interview affected Tesla’s stock. In the days that followed, the company’s shares tanked more than 12% as investors started having second thoughts about Musk’s ability to lead the company. New York Times reporter David Gelles, one of the publication’s staff who penned the interview, when posted a tweet stating that “Tesla $TSLA stock now down close to 4 percent in premarket trading. Wonder why?” — seemingly as a direct reference to the interview’s effect on Tesla stock.
Musk recently issued a clarification about his composure during the NYT interview. In a statement on Twitter, Musk noted that his voice cracked once during the conversation, though he maintained that he did not shed any tears.
For the record, my voice cracked once during the NY Times article. That’s it. There were no tears.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
Elon Musk’s recent clarification does stand in line with his demeanor and composure during an interview filmed in roughly the same time period as the New York Times article. In the same week as his interview with the publication, Musk also had an interview with noted YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee. Musk seemed incredibly tired in his conversations with the YouTuber, but he did not look like he was, in any way, close to having a breakdown. If any, Musk’s interactions with Brownlee showed classic Elon Musk — overworked, inherently nerdy, and even a bit charming. Overall, the contrast between the Elon Musk in the MKBHD video and the Musk depicted in the NYT article was pretty much night and day.
If there is one thing that seems to be accurate in the New York Times piece, it is that Elon Musk appears to have pledged to keep his behavior in check on Twitter. This was reiterated by the Wall Street Journal as well, in a recent report about how Musk walked away from $30 billion of funding for Tesla’s privatization. Both articles noted that Musk pledged to Tesla’s Board of Directors that he would exercise more restraint in social media. So far, Musk appears to be doing just that.
Since announcing the end of Tesla’s privatization attempt, Musk has maintained a witty, polite tone on Twitter, at one point even responding to child actor and Fresh Off the Boat star Ian Chen, who asked if Musk could sign his Model 3.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
Watch Elon Musk’s interview with YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee in the video below.