Elon Musk found himself in the middle of another controversy on Friday, after he smoked weed and sipped whiskey during a rather strange Thursday night podcast hosted by comedian Joe Rogan -- with some suggesting the eccentric billionaire had acted irresponsibly.
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“I think you have a responsibility as a CEO to be a role model to young kids and kids in college and young executives, to your employees,” Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy said on Friday during an interview on FOX Business’ “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.”
Although McNealy acknowledged that Elon is likely under a lot of pressure, he also said there’s a need for the chief executive of a high-profile company to serve as a role model for other employees.
Musk told The Guardian in response to a question about whether Tesla drug-tests employees that “our policy allows trace amounts of THC [an ingredient of cannabis] during work times, provided they are below the safety limit (much like a minimum alcohol level).”
That interview – coupled with the abrupt departure of the company’s chief accounting officer – pushed Tesla’s stock further into the red on Friday, with it falling more than 6 percent to $262.28 per share.
And the electric-car maker has been no stranger to controversy this summer: Musk came under fire in early August when he unexpectedly sent out a tweet saying he was considering taking Tesla private, and had the “funding secured.” Shares soared on the news, eventually rising more than 10 percent (the Nasdaq briefly halted trading to ensure the tweet was legitimate).
Although he later announced that Tesla would remain a publicly traded company to appease shareholders, that tweet spurred the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch an investigation into the veracity of Musk’s statement. The San Francisco office of the SEC has sent subpoenas to Tesla regarding its privatization plans to determine whether Musk intentionally misled investors.
It wasn’t the first time Musk’s tweeting put him into some potential legal trouble: Vernon Unsworth, the British diver who assisted in the Thai cave rescue this summer, filed a lawsuit against the executive for calling him a “pedo” online.
But McNealy said that life at the helm of a big company -- particularly one that has relied so heavily upon government subsidies and tax dollars -- can be very stressful.
“It takes an unusual personality to be willing and able to have the managerial courage, maybe a doobie gives him energy or courage that he needs to fight on, I don’t know. It just wasn’t the way I operate,” he said.