With a name (and intellect) like Elon Musk, you just know that he was teased by other students gorwing up. Luckily for Musk, he’s clearly one of the smarter guys on the planet and thus is capable of using his words to really break down a bully or two. Luckily for us, that’s not just an assumption but rather something that we have a copious amount of evidence for, thanks to Musk’s Twitter and increasingly large public profile. So, we went through his social media accounts, videos of his interviews and question and answer sessions and on paper interviews to find the Top 10 examples of Elon Musk being an absolute savage, proving that while he may be modest when it comes to naming his companies (ie the “Boring Company”), he’s definitely got a way with words that is seemingly unrivaled in Silicon Valley and beyond.
10. That Time He Shut Down Those Trying to Shut Down His Merger
Back in August of 2016, it was announced that two of Musk’s largest companies in SolarCity and Tesla would be merging into one company. Musk held a 20% stake in each of the companies and because they were public companies their merger needed to be approved by shareholders. Musk’s goal was, at least as it was reported, to create an “Energy Empire” by combining his electrical car business with a “vertically integrated and sustainable energy company” that could power more than just your car (namely your home). The $2.6 billion dollar acquisition was controversial in that it was considered a conflict of interest, considering that Musk’s Tesla was essentially giving a ton of money to Musk’s SolarCity. Outside of the anti-trust issues, there’s the fact that SolarCity had an incredible amount of debt (thus Tesla was seen as simply bailing out SolarCity) and the fear that asking someone who is buying a car to also re-do their roof may be a bridge too far. In response to the conflict of interest question, Musk responded to one of his own employees who raised it by saying that the only conflict of interest would’ve been had he NOT merged the companies. He was quoted as saying just that before the merger was finalized, saying that the “conflicts of interest are if we don’t merge” and while that may seem like a head-scratcher to some it clearly worked as the controversial merger ended up getting final approval and making Musk even more money than he already had.
9. He’s Savagely Honest… Even About Himself
Musk had done a great job replacing Steve Jobs as the go-to CEO that people put on a pedestal and a large part of that stems from his willingness to engage with his followers on social media. Of course, being Musk, he’s asked for advice (and money) from a lot of his younger followers and despite the fact that he runs about 5,000 companies that are all shooting for the moon (some literally) in terms of their goals he does a great job of actually responding to as many of the Tweets as possible. Back in July of 2017, Musk was asked by Twitter user @EricDiepeveen, who stated: “Following @elonmusk on Instagram shows an amazing life. I wonder if the ups and down he had make for a more enjoyable life”. Those “Up’s and Down’s refer to not only the ups and downs of being an extremely rich CEO that’s also a public figure (there are negatives to that) and in regards to his childhood, which he’s described as “excruciating” (because of bullies, which may explain his lack of patience for bullies and his acid/silver tongue). Musk responded: “The reality is great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress. Don’t think people want to hear about the last two”. Which is a surprising amount of honesty that you don’t often hear from successful people and that shows that Musk’s savage honesty extends to himself as well. He did follow that up by saying that the way he’s found to deal with it is by “taking the pain” and ensuring that you “really care about what you’re doing”.
8. He Keeps it Real in Terms of What it Really Takes to Run a Business
Beyond his honesty about the stress, high’s and low’s of running a business, Musk also is brutally honest about other aspects of running a business to let people know that it’s not all mansions, supercars, and literal rocketships. In an interview with a Youtube channel named Limitless Stars, Musk showed his amazing vocabulary and honesty asked about advice he had for people looking to start a business. Musk, a father of five, clearly is pretty stressed out and that’s what happens when you run cutting-edge businesses that are literally pushing the boundaries of modern science. Tesla, for example, is notorious for missing production deadlines for it’s highly popular and super in-demand cars, the Hyperloop transit system is basically a theoretical concept that some say is impossible to actually create (safely or at all) and he’s had a disaster or two in terms of his SpaceX rockets and their ability to land after traveling back from space. So, while he never seems to really be in a bad mood, he did answer that question with a description that would make any sane person think… Ten times (minimum) before starting a business. Of starting a business he said; “Starting a company is like eating glass, staring into the abyss of death. Um, if that sounds appealing, go ahead”. Perhaps he was just trying to get out of hosting career day at one of his children’s schools, though.
7. Elon Musk. Bond Villain.
It’s always good from a public relations standpoint to hear that the feedback from your national television appearance is that you came off like a villain from James Bond, but that’s exactly what happened after Musk stopped by a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Which is the number one late night talk show in the game). Musk, who became rich thanks to PayPal (mostly), has basically morphed into the person people ask about anything and everything scientific and futuristic (he’s basically a version of Bill Nye the Science Guy that doesn’t make $35,000 a year) and while he’s clearly extremely intelligent and does now run businesses that dabble in things like space and futuristic mass transit, he’s still a guy with a B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business, respectively. During that visit, Colbert asked Musk about his thoughts on humans colonizing Mars, a planet that Musk referred to as a “Fixer-Upper” planet that could be transformed into a livable planet like Earth. How would Musk do that? It’s simple, really, you’d just have to “Nuke” the polar ice caps! While the crowd laughed and it did seem like something Goldfinger would say, there is some logic behind it as was found in the thousands of articles written on science sites/blogs after that interview. The thought is that by using nuclear weapons on the ice caps you’d not only melt the ice for water, but you’d also vaporize the water and carbon dioxide stuck in the caps, which could create an atmosphere thick enough (over time) to actually warm Mars to a habitable level (which could melt the rest of the ice and hopefully support plants that’d just love all that carbon dioxide). So, while it seemed nuts, a lot of Musk’s ideas are (like the idea that we live in a simulation) but if you read up on quantum mechanics or really any high level physics, basically everything is nuts, Musk is just really aware of that fact.
6. The Snake Charger
That’s not the only time that Musk has been a savage on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and while the first time was a legitimate, albeit insane sounding, answer this example shows that Musk does, in fact, have a sense of humor or that the programmer who built him did before Musk became self-aware and murdered him. Musk must’ve received the notes that he sounded like a Bond Villain and decided to humanize himself by making a joke or two and the joke that lands on this list is one that is fun for the whole family as it refers, basically, to being raped by a robot. Colbert showed a video of the “Snake Charger” that while still a prototype, could be the future for Tesla owners at least, as it automatically detects your car and slowly finds the plug-in and chargers the car without you doing any work! After the video was played, Musk suggested that people should refrain from bending over near the Snake Charger and while the crowd hesitated to figure out if Musk literally just went there, Musk burst out laughing, showing that he is as funny as he is smart. Now, videos of this process that are on YouTube are set to “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye, for example, so you can see why Musk made that joke, as well.
5. Apparently Being a Savage Doesn’t Skip a Generation
As mentioned earlier on this list, Musk is the father of five different children that he’s had over the course of two different marriages. Like all fathers, Musk is basically a chauffeur for his children and thankfully for him, he actually listens to his kids when they criticize his work. Musk was driving his son in his Tesla Model S, which initially had reading lights in the back but they were removed in exchange for more headroom. However, Musk being Musk, clearly he makes his kids read physics textbooks while he drives them from one robot building competition to another… Robot building competition and when it got too dark outside for his son to read unaided, he asked his dad why there weren’t lights in the back of the Model S. After hearing from his father the reasoning behind the lack of illumination, Musk’s son responded that the Model S, one of the most sought-after cars in the world, was in fact “The Stupidest Car in the World”. That actually lead to Musk not only adding lights to the next batch of Model S’ but also offering to install the lights in S’ that had been delivered to their owners FOR FREE. So, this shows that not only does Musk listen to feedback but also that his ability to be a complete Savage didn’t skip a generation.
4. Don’t Ask Him for a Discount
Part of the controversy behind the merger of Tesla and SolarCity (See entry #10), outside of the fact that Musk owned/owns 20% of each and that one was essentially bailing out the other, was that Musk’s cousin, Lyndon Rive, was the CEO of SolarCity at the time of the merger. Being a family member and the owner of a company that he also owned a percentage of and also that he planned to buy for nearly $3 billion dollars, you’d think, would land some perks for Rive. However, it turns out that while some have said that Musk was dealing under the table via that merger, he’s actually a pretty fair person that treats everyone the same way, even family. Rive learned that first hand when he asked Musk for a family discount for a Tesla, he explained what happened in an interview, “I asked, ‘Elon, hey can I have a family discount’ and his answer is, ‘Yeah absolutely. Go to TeslaMotor.com, buy the car online, and the price you see there is the family discount,’” Rive told Tech Insider. “Everyone gets a family discount.” That shows that while Musk has a great sense of humor outside of robot rape jokes (see #6) and that he also doesn’t believe in nepotism, which is probably why he resigned from the advisory position he had in Trump’s White House (or at least one of the reasons).
3. Wireless Ship
The Verge, which is a website that focuses on the “intersection of technology, science, art and culture” and apparently is a site that also writes articles that don’t cover all the facts. Awhile back, they had an article about a crewless ship that was going to be able to essentially deliver cargo without a pilot or risk human life in the process. While there was nothing wrong with the article, it was the Tweet that (correctly) rubbed Musk the wrong way as when it was Tweeted out it was labeled as the world’s “First crewless ship” (and when it’d be released). Musk had developed a crewless ship as well and responded with a checkmate of epic proportions as you can see above. That also means that Musk dabbles in the road (with cars), sea (with crewless boats), space (with SpaceX rockets) and even futuristic travel (via the Hyperloop). Is there anything this guy can’t do? Really though, after this interaction you should probably also add that Musk is also the master of burns, as well.
2. Attack of the Trolls
Part of being the owner/CEO of a large multi-national corporation or two is that you’re essentially a public figure and thus have to deal with all sorts of negative stuff, especially online. Musk has had to deal with that more so than other people because he’s not only the owner of multiple companies but also because he’s the most famous businessman in North America and perhaps the world. While he mostly ignores trolls online, he sometimes has to responded to them, more so if they’re damaging his personal or professional reputation which is what the case was when he quoted South Park on the 22nd of November, 2016. After an “author” “named” Shepard Stewart” was writing fake news stories about Musk and his companies, which prompted Musk to ask his Twitter followers for assistance in identify Stewart while quoting South Park. In the Tweet, Musk asked/said: “Can you uncover who is really writing these fake pieces? Can’t be skankhunt42. His work is better than this” (Skankhunt42 was a cyber-bully on an episode of South Park during Season 20).
1. Cancelled a Tesla Pre-Order
In an above entry it was explained that part of Musk’s appeal is the fact that he spends a lot of time responding to people who reach out to him on social media and while most of the time that’s a positive thing, there are times where Musk has to lay down the law (see… The rest of this list). The most infamous example of this is when Stewart Alsop, a venture capitalist from California that was on the waiting list for a Tesla Model X back a few years ago. Alsop took offense mainly to the launch event for the Model X and started his open letter by telling Musk that he should be ashamed for himself for a few reasons which included that the event started late, was far too crowded and focused too much on the safety of the car as opposed to things like performance, technology or comfort. People like Alsop had attended to the event after putting down a $5,000 down payment on the Model X and while he may have been frustrated by the slow manufacturing process that Tesla is still dealing with, he didn’t explain it that way. Musk responded by cancelling Alsop’s pre-order after Alsop ended his letter by stating that Musk should show some “class” and followed up on the cancelled pre-order with another letter titled “Banned by Tesla”, proving that he hadn’t learned his lesson. Either way, Musk showed restraint by not responding to that comment, but as they say, actions speak louder than words and Musk proved that.