Elon Musk is mostly known for his contributions to Tesla motors starting in 2004, but how he came to become worth $22 billion is not just due to the success of Tesla, but the extraordinary entrepreneurial talent and his technological aptitude. However, due to recent actions, he has come under scrutiny for his unethical and unprofessional behavior. Throughout this paper we will discuss the events leading up to his act of smoking marijuana on air and the aftermath and repercussions. Part 1: Intro- About Elon Musk Musk was born in South Africa. His talent was evident at a very early age. He made a video game when he was 12 and sold it to a computer magazine. To avoid having to join the South African military he decided to attend the Queen’s university in Ontario, Canada. He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he double majored in economics and physics. He paid his own way through college by selling computer parts, fixing problems that students were having on their computers such as booting issues or viruses, and converting his house into a “nightclub” for the weekends. They charged people at the door and in one night he would be able to make enough money to pay rent for the month. After Penn he got accepted to attend Stanford University where he intended to get his doctorate in energy physics, but dropped out just two days after starting. He dropped out to launch his first company Zip2 with his brother Kimbal, which was one of the first internet maps and direction services. They sold Zip2 in 1999 to Compaq Computer Corporation for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options. Then, in 1999 Musk co-founded X.com, an online bank, which is now known as Paypal, the world’s leading internet payment system. When Paypal was acquired by eBay the deal was for $1.5 billion, and he earned $180 million after taxes from that deal. Musk founded a third company in 2002 named SpaceX, which is a company that manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. He believes that in order for humanity to survive, humans have to be able to live on other planets. SpaceX has had enormous success, making history when they sent an unmanned capsule into space. It was the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station. The spacecraft was made of reusable parts, which makes space travel more affordable. The United States government gave the company permission to launch satellites to provide internet services, in March of 2018. Musk was the CEO of two companies at once, Tesla and Starx.
Part 2: Tesla Background A. Early History and Mission:
In July 2003, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors; an American automotive and energy company. It was named after Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla. This started with the recall and destruction of GM’s EV1 electric cars, which left an imprint on the founders and influenced them to start the company. Their goal was to show people that electric cars would offer a more efficient way to get around, while not compromising on horsepower and torque. The founders firmly believed in a zero-emissions future, which would cause a halt to the reliance on fossil fuels. Operations in Tesla’s early stage, were financed by the two founders before moving into outside funding. The following year, Elon Musk was brought on leading the series A round before joining the board of directors and overseeing operational roles. Musk became the leading investor in Tesla providing approximately $7.5 million from personal funds. Co-founder Martin Eberhard was asked to resign in August 2007 by the company’s board of directors, sparking a massive lawsuit against Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. Eberhard’s lawsuit claimed that Elon Musk was attempting to “rewrite history”, and take the credit for himself. He also stated that Tesla had violated the severance packages (which included stock options, $100,000 paid in a six month period, and medical benefits) promised to him after his step down as CEO. The 22 page suit also attached 143 pages of news articles that wrongfully showed Elon Musk as the founder of Tesla. After months of back and forth Musk and Eberhard came to a rather shocking resolution; having five designated people as the founders of the company. Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard, JB Straubel, Mark Tarpenning, and Ian Wright were named the five founders of Tesla Motors. Following the resolution, the company proceeded to focus on it’s new project: the Tesla Model S. B. Funding Tesla Motors was initially funded by Martin Eberhard and Mark Tarpenning before being joined by Elon Musk, Ian Wright, and JB Straubel. Elon Musk led the series A in February 2004 which had a total of $7.5 million. Musk also led the Series B investment that totaled $13 billion, and co-led series C which totaled $40 million in 2006. In Series C, some of the investors included Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The fourth round totaled another $45 million and was led by Elon Musk.
In June 2010, Tesla received a $8 billion loan from the United States Department of Energy, particularly from the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program. This loan was used to help put the Model S into production and also helped the research and development of commercial powertrain technology, as the powertrain for electric vehicles needs a larger battery support. C. Vehicles & Concepts Tesla Roadster*: В· First Tesla vehicle designed and launched in 2008 В· Accelerates from 0-60 in 1.9 seconds / 0-100 in 4.2 seconds В· Electric mileage range 620 (estimated) miles В· Features a removable glass roof, four seats, premium performance calipers, state of the art handling, and automated integrated settings. В· Starting price: $200,000 Tesla Model S*: В· Produced in 2012 В· Achieved Green car of the year in 2013 (Motor Trend) В· Accelerates from 0-60 in 2.5 seconds В· Electric mile range – 315 (estimated) В· First Electric car to reach recorded 1 billion miles В· Features five seats, automated integrated technology, automated guidance technology, and collision avoidance technology. В· Starting price: $77,000 Tesla Model X*: В· Announced in 2014 and released in 2015 В· 0-60 in 2.9 seconds В· Electric Mileage range – 289 (estimated) В· Features 7 seats, automated integrated technology, automated guidance technology, and collision avoidance technology. В· Features five star safety rating В· Starting price: $83,000 Tesla Model 3*: В· Produced in 2017 В· 0-60 in 3.3 seconds В· Electric Mileage range – 310 (estimated) В· 130 miles range available after 30 minutes of fast charging В· Features 5 seats, automated integrated technology, automated guidance technology, and collision avoidance technology. В· Starting price: $46,000 ($34,200 after estimated savings) Future Concepts*: В· Tesla Semi: Class 8 semi-trailer truck. Estimated to go into production in 2019. В· Tesla Model Y: full-sized SUV aimed for families. Estimated to be unrelieved in march of 2019 *All Tesla Vehicles stated above have a zero tailpipe emissions. Each vehicle is designed to appeal to a specific dynamic of consumers. Tesla’s vision is to create affordable mass-market electric vehicles.
Part 3: Before Musk Smoked
Notably, the characters of Musk and Tesla have certainly been called into question many times before he smoked marijuana on the Joe Rogan Experience. With the Model 3 Tesla having significantly more problems in distribution than expected, some were questioning what was happening with Tesla before Musk smoked marijuana. The Model 3 Tesla was highly anticipated and sold more than any other Tesla model. Unfortunately, the production and distribution issues that Tesla has been having has almost overtaken the hype that initially was sparked by the new innovation of an electric car. Elon Musk has responded to customers who are concerned about the delivery of their Tesla Model 3, stating, “Sorry, we’ve gone from production hell to delivery logistics hell, but this problem is far more tractable. We’re making rapid progress. Should be solved shortly.” Musk is owning up to the fact that his extremely profitable company seems to not be doing as great as it should or could be. At the same time, there is the question of why Tesla is not doing well when it seems as though it should have the capabilities and resources to be an efficient and effective company. On July 31, 2018, Musk met with Saudi fund managers to discuss the possibility of taking his company private. The Public Investment Fund expressed interest in participating in a deal that would take the company off of publicly traded markets. About a week later, the Tesla CEO tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” This tweet caused the price of Tesla shares to steadily decline for months following. There are many issues with Musk’s decision to utilize his social media platform in this way.
Firstly, the nature of the meeting with the Saudi fund was in no way a proposal to actually buy the outstanding shares of Tesla. At the end of the meeting, investors still had many questions concerning the implications of bringing on foreign investors to a U.S. corporation. Yet, Musk claimed the funding was “secured”. Secondly, the share price at which Musk valued his company was wildly overstated and later revealed to be a fabricated number because of the association it holds to the date 4/20, a popular day for marijuana users. A $420 share price would give Tesla a $70 billion valuation, which is much higher than what was discussed with the Saudi investors. Lastly, the overall decision to disclose this information via Twitter instead of filing with the SEC was irresponsible to the company’s shareholders and the financial markets as a whole. This tweet had an obvious material effect on investors’ decisions, which should not be the goal of any corporate officer of a publicly traded company. Another week after Musk’s tweet, the CEO sat down for an interview with The New York Times. In this interview he chronicled the mental tolls of running his company. He cited the responsibilities of his role being the cause of not returning home for days on end, not having time for his children, and not being able to socialize with his friends. He became increasingly unnerved by short-sellers who were betting against his success. Musk even went so far as to belittle the intelligence of short-sellers. When asked about the tweet concerning the privatization of Tesla, the CEO said it was an attempt of being more transparent. He made it rather clear that he does not regret the tweet and does not intend to stop using his twitter to reach investors.
Part 4: Musk Smoking
On September 6th, “The Joe Rogan Experience”, a video podcast hosted a special guest, Elon Musk. One of the goals of the interview was to address Musk’s recent erratic behavior as well as discover what it is like to walk in the shoes of the CEO of Tesla. For the first two hours, the conversation bounced around from artificial intelligence and the end of the universe, to flamethrowers and social media; even a samurai sword made an appearance. While no doubt the interview had been a bit of a roller coaster, it had been nothing new to most; people had grown accustomed to Musk’s eccentric behavior. The emotional state of Tesla’s shareholders abruptly changed from unphased, to irritated and concerned when Joe Rogan brought out a cigar filled with marijuana and tobacco, Musk quickly questioned it. He explained that it was both marijuana and tobacco, and Musk seemed intrigued. A few seconds later, Rogan implied that Musk probably should not indulge in the joint with him, saying “You probably can’t with the stockholders right?”. Joe Rogan is a comedian, actor, and host of one of the world’s most popular podcasts, so a powerful person doing anything of relevance on his podcast can only help Rogan’s brand. Even despite this fact, he still gives a subtle reminder to Musk that he is the CEO of a publicly traded company and smoking marijuana could be devastating to Tesla’s stock. Musk quickly inquires more, “I mean it’s legal, right?”
Although marijuana is legal in California, where the interview took place, under federal law, it is illegal. The simple fact that it was legal in the state was good enough for Musk, as he proceeded to inhale the drug. After exhaling a cloud of smoke, he made a shrugging face that was soon shared all over the internet. The face of a powerful CEO of a publicly traded company who just smoked marijuana on a live broadcast was now the laughing stock of social media. Adding insult to injury, Musk furthers his mistake by consuming alcohol immediately after smoking.
Part 5: Tesla After Musk’s appearance on Joe Rogan podcast
After Elon Musk smoked on a live podcast with Joe Rogan, Tesla’s stock price plummeted. It plunged 9% and two high level executives abruptly left the company. Dave Morton, Tesla’s chief accountant, announced two days prior to the podcast that he was stepping down after just one month at Tesla. Gabrielle Toledano, Tesla’s Chief People Officer, announced she would be extending her leave from Tesla on the 7th of September. In a company update on the day following the interview, Musk posted on Tesla’s blog, announcing multiple promotions as well as executives that left the company. In the weeks after the podcast appearance, Musk continued to face scrutiny. On September 27, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Musk for “false and misleading statements” regarding taking Tesla private. The lawsuit rattled Tesla’s investors, and the stock fell 14% in the following days. The actions that Musk took before and after he smoked on the podcast showed a lack of prudence and justice. He did not act in fairness to his shareholders who invested their money and trust in his company. He displayed a lack of temperance in smoking weed and drinking whiskey in the public eye, making a mockery of Tesla and those who invest in Musk’s innovative ideas and forward thinking. Musk reached a settlement with the SEC on September 29th, two days after the suit was filed by the SEC. Musk and Tesla agreed to settle the charges without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations. The settlements require that: “Musk will step down as Tesla’s Chairman and be replaced by an independent Chairman. Musk will be ineligible to be re-elected Chairman for three years; Tesla will appoint a total of two new independent directors to its board; Tesla will establish a new committee of independent directors and put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications; Musk and Tesla will each pay a separate $20 million penalty. The $40 million in penalties will be distributed to harmed investors under a court-approved process.”
After the settlement was reached, Tesla shares surged 17% erasing the 14% losses after the complaint was issued by the SEC. A few days after the settlement, on October 4, 2018, Musk seemingly mocked the SEC, tweeting, “Just want to say that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!”. Musk shows little concern for how these tweets may affect Tesla and its image as a company. Even after reaching a settlement for the SEC for his erratic tweeting, he continues to tweet disregarding the implications these comments may have on the company. On October 17, Musk stated that he is increasing his investment by $20 million in Tesla. This will add to the $9 billion he currently holds in the company, controlling over 33 million shares of the company at the time. Then, on October 27, Musk tweeted that his actions for the $20 million suit from the SEC was “worth it”. This shows his lack of moral consideration to the shareholders of the company and lack of remorse in his actions and image of the company. Most recently, on November 1, a group of Tesla shareholders and U.S. government officials sent out a letter to Tesla’s board requesting that it make changes to the executive board and “enhance oversight” of Elon Musk. They also suggested permanently separating the positions of chairman and chief executive. The letter was sent by CtW Investment Group, which collectively oversees $774 billion in assets. The letter also stated that Tesla’s board should give voting rights to long-term shareholders nominate directors.
In conclusion, Elon Musk, both an innovator and entrepreneur, has displayed a lack of prudence and temperance. His reckless actions show an excess of the virtue fortitude. As a leader of an innovative and important company; making decisions such as smoking mar Fortitude: в†’ praise is dependent on justice. Brave person doesn’t seek harm but suffers it for the sake of realizing the good … suffers for sake of good. Acting courageously. Defect: Cowardice Excess: Recklessness Temperance: в†’ keep control; serenity of spirit; preserve inner order; orders powers that most easily bring unrest; concerned with your self-preservation. Control pleasure/desire that you really do want. Defect: insensibility Excess: intemperance Prudence: в†’ product of experience. Directing cognition of reality. Wisdom with respect to action. Understanding what is right and acting that way.