What better way to really understand Elon Musk’s year as Tesla CEO than to look back at his Twitter. It’s been a bumpy and very busy year for the electric car executive. He went from the depths of despair to turning a profit for Tesla for the first time — with a few lawsuits and scathing news reports thrown in for good measure. He even took a few puffs of marijuana on a podcast.
His most famous tweet of 2018?
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
That led to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit and possible criminal investigation. In his settlement (which cost him $20 million and Tesla another $20 million), he was removed as chairman of the board and his tweeting is now under close watch. That didn’t stop him from taunting the SEC. He remains CEO of Tesla.
Just want to that the Shortseller Enrichment Commission is doing incredible work. And the name change is so on point!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 4, 2018
Before the SEC drama in August, he divulged he was in “production hell” as he struggled to build 5,000 Model 3 cars a week. We learned Musk was sleeping at the office.
About a year ago, I asked Doug to manage both engineering & production. He agreed that Tesla needed eng & prod better aligned, so we don’t design cars that are crazy hard to build. Right now, tho, better to divide & conquer, so I’m back to sleeping at factory. Car biz is hell …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2018
As Musk himself said in a Halloween interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, “It’s fair to say I would probably not have tweeted some of the things I tweeted, that was probably unwise.”
Back in May, he went on a rant about creating a truth-rating website called Pravda.
Going to create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication. Thinking of calling it Pravda …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Later, he broke down in a New York Times article, calling this year the “most difficult and painful year of my career.” BUT HE DID NOT CRY.
For the record, my voice cracked once during the NY Times article. That’s it. There were no tears.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 28, 2018
And he’s still dealing with the repercussions of an insulting (since deleted) tweet calling a British cave diver a “pedo guy.” The diver is suing for defamation. Musk argued this week that since it happened on Twitter it’s protected speech.
Musk also used Twitter to make countless product announcements, from off-menu paint colors to updated Autopilot software. He tweeted about a farting unicorn and gave his cars the ability to fart. He also gave clues about major releases, like the elusive Model Y.
But consider it real. We could unveil Model Y anytime from late this year to mid next year, so March 15 is about right.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2018
Tesla’s stock price is a good indicator of when Musk’s Twitter behavior is getting too much for shareholders to handle. The dips match low points in his tweets, IRL behavior, and Model 3 production numbers.
Musk’s personal life got even weirder this year. In February he broke up with actress Amber Heard and then started dating the singer Grimes.
This was the year Musk recognized his own Twitter influence and started tweeting some bizarre posts and what he considers funny jokes.
By the way, Musk is 47 years old.
Elon Musk also used Twitter to announce a new name for his Boring Company’s flamethrowers.
Almost forgot! Due to recent regulatory/customs rules enacted to inhibit transport of anything called a Flamethrower, we have renamed our product: “Not a Flamethrower”.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2018
This was just 365 days. What a year.