Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been remarkably quiet for the past ten days. It was weird before, and now it’s even weirder.
The billionaire last tweeted on June 21. For Musk, who tends to tweet incessantly at virtually all hours of the day, it’s an eternity and a half. He did appears to have flown to Rome, Italy last night after spending much of the last ten days in Austin, Texas, the site of Tesla’s new factory – but that only deepens the mystery around its absence from public view.
We can only guess why Musk has decided to stay away from the social media platform he’s actively trying to buy. Here are the most feasible theories.
Busy with Tesla
It’s convincing. A tough second quarter is coming to an end, as Tesla rushes to hit targets while overhauling and restructuring many of its operations.
The company has been rocked by Musk’s typically ruthless approach to his leadership roles. First, he announced that he had a “super bad feeling” about the coming economic downturn, choosing to cut ten percent of his workforce.
Then he threatened full-time employees to come back to the office or face the consequences – despite the fact that Tesla offices were obviously ill-prepared for the influx of returning employees.
Maybe Musk is just too busy trying to get Tesla’s spending under control before the economy really starts to dip.
Overall, he may just feel that market conditions are tough and he needs to get serious for a while. Last month, after all, he complained that the company’s factories were wasting “billions of dollars”.
“The factories in Berlin and Austin are currently gigantic money furnaces,” Musk explained in an interview at the time. “It should be like a giant roar which is the sound of burning money.”
This is related but distinct. Tesla’s valuation also suffered significantly during the quarter, which is at least partly due to Musk’s unsettling and improvised leadership style, not to mention his disastrous bid to acquire Twitter.
The numbers aren’t pretty. Tesla suffered its biggest quarterly decline since 2010, according to CNBC, with shares falling 38%. This may finally be the wake-up call Musk needed to pause his midlife crisis and get things under control.
The Twitter Saga
Speaking of the Bird Site, that’s another possibility. Musk has made Twitter his personal megaphone for more than a decade, which has only made his attempts to buy the social media platform all the more remarkable.
But the acquisition didn’t go smoothly, with Musk seemingly looking for increasingly desperate ways to get out of the deal as the economy and his own automaker struggled.
Is the deal still on shaky ground? It would seem so. On the day of his last tweet, Musk attended the Qatar Economic Forum, telling the audience that there were still “unresolved questions” surrounding the deal.
The abortion debate
Since Musk began his tweet break, the United States Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade, a disastrous decision that will inevitably lead to a public health disaster of horrific proportions.
It’s notable because Musk has always been reluctant to comment on a woman’s right to access safe, legal abortions. He has, however, repeatedly claimed that the only thing that will save humanity is to have more children – and to move people to Mars, of course. So maybe he’s just waiting for the chaos to calm down.
The very day of Musk’s last tweet, TMZ told a rather devastating story about Musk’s 18-year-old daughter, revealing that she asked to change her name, not only to better reflect her gender identity, but also to drop any association she had with Musk .
“I no longer live or wish to be related to my biological father,” Musk’s daughter wrote in her name change request, “in any way.”
It’s a legitimately difficult family situation. Maybe Musk is trying to heal that relationship, so he’s taking a break from Twitter — where he repeatedly shares transphobic memes.
Musk was also recently accused of seriously questionable behavior — including sexual harassment, by an employee who was allegedly paid by SpaceX — which may also contribute to his prolonged absence.
In the week leading up to Musk’s Twitter hiatus, SpaceX employees released an open letter calling out Musk for his bizarre behavior and for violating the team’s “No Asshole” and zero tolerance policies on sexual harassment.
SpaceX management retaliated almost immediately, promptly firing employees for speaking their minds. Has he developed a sense of shame?
Journey to Mars
Despite Musk’s distractions, the space company has also made great strides toward sending its massive Starship spacecraft into orbit for the very first time, efforts in which Musk is deeply personally invested.
With the green light from the Federal Aviation Administration — although many conditions are in place to protect the surrounding environment — SpaceX is now preparing to fire up one of the largest rocket stages ever built.
And that means Musk is probably also in the lead with SpaceX.
Where is Musko?
It’s strange that the richest man in the world disappears without any indication why. If the past decade is any indication, Musk has rarely been shy about jumping into virtually any debate, no matter how well – if at all – he is able to contribute to the conversation.
Did the second quarter of this year turn out to be too much for the richest person in the world? Is Musk bracing for what could be a global economic downturn of disastrous proportions?
All we can do is wait for his next move.
Learn more about musk: Tesla is laying off 200 people working on its unfinished self-driving tech