In a world where time is a scarce resource, Elon Musk stands as a living testament to the challenges of managing a multifaceted career. Known for his role as CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk added another layer to his already busy schedule when he acquired Twitter for a staggering $44 billion and assumed the position of CEO. While he recently announced plans to pass on the torch to a successor, for now, Musk remains at the helm of Tesla and SpaceX, balancing a myriad of responsibilities.
During an interview at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, Musk shed light on the intricacies of his schedule. “My days are very long and complicated as you might imagine,” he admitted, emphasizing the constant need for context switching, which he described as a painful process. Musk shared his strategy of allocating dedicated days for each company, attempting to focus solely on one organization at a time. However, the reality is often more fluid. A “Tesla day” can unexpectedly transform into a late-night rendezvous with Twitter, blurring the lines of his professional commitments. As a result, Musk finds himself navigating a precarious balance between Tesla, Twitter, and SpaceX, a delicate dance that poses a significant challenge for effective time management.
The interconnectivity of Musk’s roles has had its impact on his investments. Following the Twitter acquisition, Tesla’s shares experienced a significant decline, losing over half of their value in just two months. Investors voiced concerns that Musk’s divided attention would undermine the progress of the electric car maker, particularly in an increasingly competitive market. Concurrently, Twitter faced its own setbacks, with advertisers fleeing or temporarily suspending their campaigns. The repercussions were tangible, leading Musk to reassess the company’s value, downgrading it to $20 billion in March. Despite these setbacks, Musk expressed optimism, stating that many advertisers are now returning to the platform.
While many executives delegate their calendars to a chief of staff or executive assistant, Musk takes a hands-on approach. He personally manages the majority of his scheduling, with only a part-time assistant to offer support. Musk justifies this choice by highlighting the difficulty of anyone else accurately determining his priorities. Working tirelessly, he often wraps up his day around 2 a.m., just before his typical bedtime.
At Twitter, Musk envisions transitioning into the roles of executive chairman and technology chief, with the talented Linda Yaccarino, a former NBC ad executive, assuming the CEO position. However, with Twitter being primarily a technology company, Musk’s responsibilities as CTO are expected to remain demanding.
During the interview, Musk was asked about his succession plans for his businesses. Acknowledging the timeless challenge of succession, Musk revealed that he has informed his boards of his choice for a “worst-case scenario” successor. However, he emphasized that the boards have the autonomy to choose an alternative candidate to fill his shoes.
Speculation surrounds potential successors at Tesla, with finance chief Zachary Kirkhorn being among the candidates Musk would endorse. Musk’s companies have often engaged in related party transactions, which has prompted political pressure to create clearer separation between them. For instance, after assuming control of Twitter, Musk enlisted dozens of employees from Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Co. to aid him in his social media venture. The “transition team” he assembled at Twitter played a crucial role in diverse aspects, ranging from code review to personnel and facilities-related decisions.
Musk’s involvement in various ventures extends beyond Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter. He was a co-founding director and donor of OpenAI, a former non-profit that now receives backing from Microsoft. Musk’s financial contributions included donating approximately $250,000 worth of Tesla vehicles in the early days of OpenAI. However, recent developments