The Atlantic

When Elon Musk Switches on ‘Insane Mode’

“Someone with his combination of character traits—you’re always going to get the good with the bad.”
Source: Kyle Grillot / Reuters

In August, Elon Musk suggested on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla, his publicly traded electric-car company, private. The tweet took many by surprise, including regulators at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, who responded by suing Musk, accusing the entrepreneur of misleading investors and agitating financial markets. The two sides eventually reached a settlement that required, among other things, that Musk give up his role as chairman of Tesla’s board of directors to another board member. Musk still remains the company’s CEO, but the message from regulators was clear: Someone else should share his grip on the reins at Tesla.

Musk seems to resent the new oversight. In a CBS News interview that aired on Sunday, Lesley Stahl asked Musk whether he thought the new chair, Robyn Denholm, a telecommunications executive, was brought in “to kind of watch over you, like a babysitter.”

“It’s not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company,” Musk responded. “And I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want.”

The shake-up of Tesla’s leadership is probably a good thing, according to Hamish McKenzie, a journalist who worked at Tesla between 2014 and 2015, as a writer in the company’s communications division. “I think it’s probably a good thing for him to be the CEO of Tesla, the visionary who everyone rallies around,” McKenzie said in a recent interview. “But it’s probably good he doesn’t have full power at the top of the board

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