The media have spent days discussing why they believe Tesla CEO Elon Musk is self-destructing, but one major newspaper is considering the possibility that the tech billionaire is psychologically damaged.
Musk’s decision to announce on Twitter his willingness to take Tesla private at $420 per share shocked Wall Street and confused journalists. Regulators subpoenaed Tesla shortly after the announcement to determine how much the company’s board knew about Musk’s plan.
The New York Times described Musk as one of “the great entrepreneurs of this era” in an Aug. 16 article hashing out the problems Tesla faces following the CEO’s Aug. 10 tweet. But The NYT also suggests Musk’s online behavior is causing psychologists to question his mental state.
“But Mr. Musk’s tweet last week … was so impulsive, potentially inaccurate, poorly worded and thought out, and with such potentially dire consequences for himself, Tesla and its shareholders, that the board now must ask a sensitive but vital question: What was Mr. Musk’s state of mind when he wrote it?” the paper asked.
The move was less tactical and more an example of Musk’s psychological hang-ups, according to The NYT. “In a Twitter exchange from last summer,” the paper noted, “Mr. Musk said he experienced ‘great highs, terrible lows and unrelenting stress.’” The article’s writer then cited psychiatrist Michael Freeman to boost their assertions.
“Entrepreneurs often have a temperament and a constellation of traits that can create enormous value but are also associated with significant risks,” Freeman, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California and an expert in the psychological makeup of entrepreneurs, told The NYT.
He said his research shows that entrepreneurs generally “have mental health profiles that are associated with higher levels of creativity, higher levels of energy, higher levels of risk tolerance and higher levels of impulsivity. Another way to look at impulsivity is a need for speed, a sense of urgency, higher motivation, and greater restlessness.”
Musk’s tweet discussing the possibility of a Tesla buyout comes amid a spate of negative news for the impulsive billionaire.
He engaged in a highly unusual and combative tit-for-tat with reporters during an earnings call in April, which culminated in Musk calling reporters “boneheaded” for asking questions about problems plaguing the electric automaker. (RELATED: ‘Unusual’: Elon Musk Appears To Have Nervous Breakdown During Bizarre Tesla Earnings Call)
The remarks did not go over well among media-types. Musk’s criticisms are taking on a decidedly Trump-like feel, according to CNN tech reporter Dylan Byers, who wrote in May that the Silicon business man is “using his vast power and influence to undermine journalists simply because he’s miffed by negative coverage.”
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