Elon Musk

Why Tesla Employees Fear Elon Musk, According to One of the Company's Co-Founders

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Working under a leader that's as eccentric, brilliant, and intense as Elon Musk is sure to come with its fair share of challenges and benefits.

In his new book, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance paints a thorough portrait of Musk and what it was like to work alongside him — illustrating both the upsides and downsides that come with it.

J.B. Straubel, Tesla's chief technology officer and one of the company's cofounders, described Musk as "difficult" to work for when speaking with Vance for the book. Straubel also said employees "can get afraid of him." 

Here's what Straubel said to Vance when describing what it's like to work with Musk:

I try really hard to back away and put my ego aside. Elon is incredibly difficult to work for, but it's mostly because he's so passionate. He can be impatient and say, 'God damn it! This is what we have to do!' and some people will get shell-shocked and catatonic. It seems like people can get afraid of him and paralyzed in a weird way. 

An anonymous former Tesla employee also described his experience working with Musk to Vance, saying workers were "tossed to the curb like a piece of litter:"

Elon's worst trait by far, in my opinion, is a complete lack of loyalty or human connection. Many of us worked tirelessly for him for years and were tossed to the curb like a piece of litter without a second thought. Maybe it was calculated to keep the rest of the workforce on their toes and scared; maybe he was just able to detach from human connection to a remarkable degree. What was clear is that people who worked for him were like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded. 

Straubel says he really respects Musk, though:

He has driven this thing with his blood, sweat, and tears. He has risked more than anyone else. I respect the hell out of what he has done. It just could not work without Elon.

To read more stories about Elon Musk's childhood and career, you can check out Vance's full book by clicking here.

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