Elon Musk, Happy With Tesla, Says SpaceX So Difficult, ‘I Wonder Whether We Can Do This’

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Action Press/Shutterstock (12276248c)Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, is on the premises of Tesla Gigafactory at a press meeting.
Action Press/Shutterstock / Action Press/Shutterstock

Elon Musk, the richest person on the planet, who just tweeted he was thinking about quitting his job, made headlines this week when he criticized the government’s effort to encourage electric-vehicle adoption, including clauses in the Build Back Better Act. The criticism was viewed by many as a way to signal Tesla’s maturity and success.

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“Thinking of quitting my jobs & becoming an influencer full-time wdyt,” Musk tweeted on Dec. 9.

However, it’s his other company, SpaceX, that seems to be giving him more trouble. Speaking remotely at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Conference, Musk’s remarks on how difficult a task it’s been to develop Starship — the next-generation vehicle the company plans to use to take humans to the Moon and Mars — sounded a lot like Tesla’s early difficulties with the Model 3, Bloomberg reported.

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Starship “absorbs more of my mental energy than probably any other single thing,” Musk said Monday, according to Bloomberg. “It is so preposterously difficult, there are times where I wonder whether we can actually do this.”

In November, Space Explored reported an email Musk sent to employees in which he said that “what it comes down to, is that we face a genuine risk of bankruptcy if we can’t achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year.”

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Space Explored reported that Musk had planned to take a break over Thanksgiving weekend, but Raptor production issues changed that:

“Unfortunately, the Raptor production crisis is much worse than it had seemed a few weeks ago. As we have dug into the issues following the exiting of prior senior management, they have unfortunately turned out to be far more severe than was reported. There is no way to sugarcoat this,” he said in the email. “I was going to take this weekend off, as my first weekend off in a long time, but instead, I will be on the Raptor line all night and through the weekend.”

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In contrast, Tesla has been on a tear this year, from exceeding deliveries despite chip shortages and supply chain disruptions, to its stock soaring, bringing the company to a $1 trillion market cap. In turn, Musk said earlier this month that he would participate in Tesla’s fourth-quarter earnings call — to take place in January 2022 — following his statement, made in July, that he would not be on the calls anymore “unless there’s something really important that I need to say.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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