Elon Musk had a bad week


Elon Musk pauses and looks down as he speaks during a press conference at SpaceX’s Starbase facility near Boca Chica Village in South Texas on Feb. 10, 2022.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

In what has been a particularly eventful year for Elon Musk, this has been a decidedly tough week.

Tesla stock, which has lost nearly half its value since its peak in November, fell more than 6% in the past week as investors continued to sell their technology holdings.

There are internal matters at Tesla that are not helping. This week they faced safety issues with the company’s advanced driver assistance systems.

Musk’s other major company, SpaceX, fired a group of employees who circulated an internal letter that allegedly labeled the CEO and founder a “distraction and embarrassment.” Meanwhile, on Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration handed SpaceX’s Starship rocket program a long to-do list before it can receive a launch license in Boca Chica, Texas.

Then there’s Twitter. Musk agreed to buy the social media company in April for $44 billion, but has since publicly trashed it, raising all sorts of concerns about whether the deal will actually close. On Thursday, Musk spoke to Twitter employees for the first time in a video address that was widely panned, based on messages that appeared on the internal chat board.

Here’s what happened in Musk Town this week.

Problematic crash data with driver assistance

The NTSB released this image of a 2021 Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor electric car involved in a fatal accident near Miami that killed two people on September 13, 2021.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Wednesday that Tesla vehicles were responsible for nearly 70% of reported accidents involving advanced driver assistance systems since June last year. Data from the US Safety Agency shows that the electric cars were involved in 273 of the 392 accidents named in the report, including data from 11 automakers.

Still, the NHTSA said the data lacks context and is only intended as a guide to quickly identify potential defect trends.

“I would be careful before trying to jump to conclusions based solely on the data we release,” NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff said at a media event. “In fact, the data can only raise more questions than it answers.”

Tesla raises prices for US car models

Tesla Model 3

Courtesy: Tesla

When Musk announced plans in June to cut 10% of Tesla’s workforce, the CEO said he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy. For consumers, those worries turn into sticker shock.

Tesla raised prices for all car models in the US this week as the auto industry continues to grapple with supply chain issues, inflation and economic uncertainty.

The company increased the price of its Model Y long-range version to $65,990 from $62,990, and increased the performance model by $2,000 to $69,990, according to its website. Electrek said the price of the Model S Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive is up about $5,000 to $104,990. The Model X Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive Long Range went up $6,000.

Tesla had previously delayed deliveries of some of its long-haul models in the US

FAA Says SpaceX Starship Program Needs Modification

The FAA issued an environmental decision Monday that resulted in a mix of good and bad news for Musk’s SpaceX and the giant Starship rocket the company is developing in Texas.

The regulator has drawn up a list of more than 75 environmental mitigation measures that the company must complete before it can proceed with Starship flight tests. The requirements include restrictions on noise levels and how often SpaceX can close public roads in the vicinity of the facility.

Following the FAA’s decision, Musk said the company will have a Starship prototype rocket “ready to fly” by July. The company aims to put the vehicle into orbit for the first time. But it requires a launch license from the FAA first, and the required regulatory action is a significant improvement before the company can apply for one.

The good news for SpaceX is that the FAA has completed its review and doesn’t need a more in-depth review.

SpaceX employees embarrassed by Musk

Musk’s plan to buy Twitter has alarmed policymakers around the world.

Joe Schipper | Reuters

An unknown number of SpaceX employees wrote and distributed a letter internally criticizing Musk and his public conduct, describing him as “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment,” according to media reports. CNBC reported Friday that at least five employees involved in the letter have been fired as a result.

SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell claimed in a company-wide email obtained by CNBC that the letter and the process to recruit signatories upset “many” employees, whom she said felt “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied.” .

“We have too much critical work to do and there is no need for this kind of exaggerated activism,” Shotwell wrote. “I’m sorry for this distraction. Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission and use your time at work to do your best work.”

Musk’s phone call with Twitter employees didn’t go well

Elon Musk’s Twitter account is seen through the Twitter logo in this illustration, taken on April 25, 2022.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

With Twitter’s stock price trading around $37, well below the $54.20 Musk was willing to pay for the company, investors and employees are rightly concerned about what the future holds.

Musk’s meeting with Twitter employees on Thursday seemed like an attempt by the potential future owner to build a sense of trust and transparency in the people who would be working for him.

But comments to Slack after the meeting indicated that employees were still left with questions and concerns, according to one person who saw the posts but declined to be named because they were meant to be kept private.

While former CEO Jack Dorsey promised employees the ability to work remotely permanently, Musk has taken a very different approach with his companies, recently requiring Tesla and SpaceX employees to be in the office at least 40 hours a week.

During the call, Musk said he may not be as strict with Twitter employees, as software development can be more easily handled from a distance, while car manufacturing requires a physical presence.

But his answer didn’t seem to allay the concerns. His comments also caused some Twitter employees to fear for their jobs, according to the acquaintance. While allaying concerns about potential layoffs, Musk said Twitter should be in a healthy financial position, but “anyone who makes a significant contribution should not worry,” the person said.

In response, towards the end of the meeting, Twitter employees shared posts and memes about how to label themselves as exceptional.

— CNBC’s Michael Wayland contributed to this report.

WATCH: Musk tells Twitter employees he wants at least a billion daily users

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