Tesla CEO Elon Musk raised more eyebrows over the weekend after tweeting sleep is not an option, on the heels of an interview with The New York Times where he detailed a multitude of personal challenges he is facing at the helm of the company.
Musk sent the tweet in response to a blog post written by Arianna Huffington discussing the importance of sleep and encouraging the businessman to get some rest.
While showing vulnerability can sometimes be a good thing for business leaders, Musk may be taking it a bit too far.
“He’s now sowing the seeds of doubt and anxiety around whether he’s simply stretched too far and reaching a breaking point,” Peter Horst, a Fortune 500 chief marketing officer who led teams at Hershey, Capital One and General Mills, told FOX Business. “This is particularly unhelpful to someone whose personal brand thus far has been of a near superhero: super rich, super genius, leading the human race to the next planet.”
Musk’s bizarre antics have definitely spooked investors – shares have fallen more than 15 percent over the past five days.
The early morning post comes after the 47-year-old entrepreneur told the Times last week he had the most “difficult and painful year of his career.” Musk recounted spending his entire birthday at work and nearly missing his brother’s wedding. And while those efforts have helped boost Tesla’s productivity in the short-term – the company recently hit a production target of delivering 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week – Musk admitted he thought “from a personal pain standpoint … the worst is yet to come.”
Musk initially rattled investors when he announced on Twitter that he was considering taking the company private, a process for which he claimed funding had already been “secured.” He offered no concrete details on a proposed strategy, but specified a buyout price of $420.
That sent shares soaring.
But he has since revealed that there has yet to be a funding deal confirmed, causing experts to warn he is losing credibility within the business community.
“From a brand-reputation perspective, this does feel like a misstep,” Horst told FOX Business last week. “This just raises questions … is he getting desperate?”
The unusual nature of the announcement has even resulted in a probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Musk told the Times he wrote the tweet in his car on the way to the airport and no one reviewed it.
“I think as much as Elon Musk has been an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and leader, this incident showcases the naiveté he has around finance. This is simply something that you don’t lie about, this is not the way it’s done,” David Johnson, a managing partner at corporate restructuring firm Abraxas Group, told FOX Business.
The billionaire businessman said he did not regret sending the post, having previously offered the rationale via blog post that he wanted all of his shareholders to be made aware of the situation simultaneously.
Musk also denied having smoked marijuana before sending the tweet, but did mention he sometimes takes Ambien to help him sleep.
While few experts are willing to deny Musk’s vision and genius, Tesla’s brand is highly intertwined with its founder’s personal reputation, which has resulted in a number of calls for the entrepreneur to change his role within the team, or to bring on someone to help assume some of the managerial responsibilities.
Yet, the company is not considering hiring a chief operating officer, according to Musk.
“The challenges facing Tesla today are not due to a lack of skill, but heightened expectations and CEO Elon Musk's suboptimal response to them," Johnson said. "By focusing on his own struggles with Tesla's current situation and a lack of balance in his own life, Elon Musk risks devaluing the efforts of all Tesla employees."
The most recent incidents are the latest in a string of bizarre events that have transpired over the past couple of months, which include lashing out at an analyst on an earnings call and reports he yelled at engineers on the assembly line to meet Model 3 production goals.