(Photo by Brian Solis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License)
The February issue of GQ profiles Elon Musk, the 31 37-year-old cofounder of Paypal and SpaceX and the chairman of Tesla Motors.
But this Monday afternoon is special, thanks to Tesla. October has just proven to be the single worst month for the auto industry in twenty-five years. Despite being a new kind of company making a new kind of car, Tesla isn’t immune from what is ailing Detroit. People aren’t buying cars, period, much less $109,000 electric sports cars with a 244-mile range -— a fact not lost on the venture capitalists Tesla relies on for financing. In recent weeks, Musk has had to close Tesla’s engineering office in Michigan, lay off 20 percent of the company’s staff (mostly from the Michigan office but also from the Silicon Valley headquarters), and announce a significant production delay in Tesla’s Model S—the $57,000 sedan that Musk (and those venture capitalists) have been hoping will broaden the company’s client base.
Yet more: That announcement about the S has nearly coincided with another, on the blog of Elon’s wife, the fantasy novelist Justine Musk, that he has left her and their five boys (4-year-old twins and 2-year-old triplets) for a 23-year-old English actress named Talulah Riley. (“By all accounts she is bright and sweet and of course beautiful, and about as personally responsible for the death of my marriage as she is for the dynamic that played out inside it. In other words, not very,” Justine wrote. “Also, she is not blonde, and I do find this refreshing.”) And about a week after that, a Tesla employee leaked information to a popular Silicon Valley blog about how low morale at Tesla had sunk, and revealing the proprietary fact that the company—which has taken more than a thousand deposits from buyers who haven’t yet received their Roadsters—was down to its last $9 million in liquid reserves. The same day the blog item appeared, Musk issued a statement confirming the $9 million figure while announcing his intention to bolster Tesla’s cash with at least $20 million in additional financing. Then, in search of the leaker, he sent a computer-forensics team to seize and search the computers of various employees. The only redeeming pieces of news about Tesla? Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and George Clooney are all having their Roadsters delivered this week.