Musk admits working nonstop is taking a personal toll

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Musk admits working nonstop is taking a personal toll


Running three companies at once is beginning to take a toll on his health, entrepreneur Elon Musk confided on Twitter. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Elon Musk prides himself for burning the candle at both ends, and sleeping at the office should the need arise, but now it appears that may be taking too heavy a toll.

The serial entrepreneur confessed that his 51-year old body is starting to show signs of wear and tear from the superhuman regimen of running not one or even two but three major companies simultaneously. 

It started off after the CEO apologized during a trial two weeks ago for “squirming around” on the witness stand, ascribing it to “quite severe back pain” and difficulty sleeping the night before. 

Then on Sunday, Musk, whom a jury just found not liable for damages over his “funding secured” tweet, conceded that the last three months had been extremely challenging. 

Not only did he need to work extra hard to save Twitter from bankruptcy, he also was required to perform essential duties at Tesla and SpaceX. In November, during an investor conference with Tesla bull Ron Baron, Musk described his punishing schedule of waking up, working nonstop, and then sleeping seven days a week.

This meant his usual 70- to 80-hour workweeks had to be ramped up to “probably 120.” By that estimation, Musk would need to compress all the time needed for sleeping, eating, relaxing, and other tasks like hygiene into a combined seven hours a day—a superhuman regimen that could prove damaging for one’s health.

“Wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone,” he confided to Twitter users on Feb. 5. When one urged him to take care, Musk responded with “I’m worried about me too” and a frowning-face emoji.

The serial entrepreneur with a reputation for micromanaging people stopped short of mentioning that Twitter’s financial troubles were partly of his own creation as he saddled it with $13 billion in debt from his purchase. 

Twitter may finally be on the mend

His open acknowledgement that stress was leaving its mark on him could reignite concerns by Tesla shareholders that his $44 billion October acquisition of troubled social media company Twitter was too great a distraction given that he already served as CEO and chief technology officer at SpaceX. 

Musk also serves as the unofficial brand ambassador for all three in lieu of a communications department, responding to customer requests via Twitter personally in a manner almost entirely unique among major corporate bosses. 

For months, many Tesla investors have been worried the EV manufacturer is receiving the least amount of attention and often shared the popular meme depicting a mother (meant to be Musk) neglecting her drowning children, SpaceX and Tesla. 

Concerns over his physical shape had already come to the fore over the summer after paparazzi pictures revealed a pasty complexion and an overweight figure. Musk later characterized the photos taken in July during his vacation on the Greek island of Mykonos as “helpful motivation to lose weight.”

In mid-December, when Tesla stock was in a freefall, Musk polled Twitter users as to whether he should yield day-to-day operations at the social media company and appoint someone else as CEO.

After the answer was a resounding yes, Musk seemingly backtracked on his promise to abide by the survey’s results. Instead he pledged to resign “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job.” Even then, he could not resist remaining engaged, saying he would demote himself to head of software and servers. 

The good news for Musk’s investors is that the day he steps back might not be too far off, as Twitter is allegedly on the mend, according to Musk. 

Despite plunging revenue, crushing debt, and user anger over declining engagement, the world’s second-wealthiest individual said the company was on track to break even this year. Musk did not explain how he managed that feat and whether it included more draconian measures such as charging corporations $1,000 a month to retain their verified status. He did gut its cost base through repeated waves of layoffs and staff attrition.


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