Elon Musk said no one saw or reviewed his tweet about the plan to take the electric-car maker private before he posted it, the New York Times reported, citing an hour-long interview with the billionaire.
Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and chairman, typed the tweet as he drove himself to the airport on Aug. 7, the newspaper reported, citing Musk. The tweet said: “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
The tweet set off a firestorm and caused the stock to jump, with the remark about funding also exposing Musk to legal risk. Almost a week later, the CEO said the basis for that statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017. Tesla’s board has since clarified that it hasn’t received a formal proposal from Musk, nor has it concluded whether going private would be advisable or feasible.
One funding possibility being considered for the potential privatization is for Musk’s rocket company SpaceX to help bankroll the deal and take a stake in Tesla, the New York Times said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Efforts are also under way to recruit an executive to take some pressure off Musk, the newspaper said, citing people briefed on the search. A couple of years ago, Tesla approached Facebook Inc. executive Sheryl Sandberg about the job, Musk told the newspaper, but added that no active search is taking place currently “to the best of my knowledge.”
In the interview, Musk revealed the physical and emotional toll of the past year as he sacrificed family milestones in the race to meet Tesla production targets. He told the newspaper that friends are concerned about his well-being and, the New York Times said, he choked up several times during the interview.
Some company directors have expressed concern about Musk’s workload, as well as his use of the sedative Ambien, the paper said. Rather than put him to sleep, the drug has sometimes led Musk to spend his nights on Twitter, worrying some board members, the newspaper said, citing a person familiar with the board’s thinking.
Musk told the newspaper that sometimes he has to choose between no sleep or Ambien.