By NUNYO DEMASIO
As the brains behind Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk is perhaps the most influential innovator of the 21st century. The entrepreneur extraordinaire, 47, has left an indelible mark on multiple industries, particularly e-commerce, aerospace and the automative field. “The best thing we’ve had since Thomas Edison,” declared Neil deGrasse Tyson, the star astrophysicist. Musk’s overarching goals seem to be: accelerate Earth’s transition to sustainable energy, using his products; and make humans a multi-planetary species, reducing the risk of our extinction.
A visionary genius who creates a wide range of futuristic stuff, Musk prompts comparisons to a fictional character: Tony Stark, the billionaire magnate, playboy and brilliant scientist known as Iron Man in Marvel Comics and film adaptations. Nonetheless, a Hollywood ending is far from guaranteed amid enormous challenges surrounding Musk’s famous car company. The super scientist inexplicably found himself entangled in a soap opera involving a controversial female rapper and his gossipy, pop-singer girlfriend. So although shareholder value has skyrocketed under Musk, his self-inflicted wounds in recent months — especially on Twitter — have prompted questions about his leadership.
The scrutiny seemed to reach a fever pitch on Friday, September 7, following Musk’s appearance on comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast: During a captivating, live-streamed interview, Musk took one puff of marijuana after pointing out its legality in California. Tesla’s stock dropped as much as 10% as its chief accountant, Dave Morton, also announced his resignation following just a month on the job. He cited unusual scrutiny of the company.
Musk maintains his defiance (and sense of humor) while describing 2018 as being the most difficult year in his iconic — and iconoclastic — life. During the past few months, he’s exhibited questionable, if not, strange behavior: Musk insulted Wall Street analysts during an earnings call; tweeted an April Fool’s joke about his billion-dollar car company going bankrupt; disparaged the media via Twitter, in Trumpian fashion, because of negative coverage; and accused a British man of being a pedophile after the poor lad mocked Musk’s submarine idea. Alas, even perhaps the world’s greatest mind can’t find a solution for thin skin.
Musk apologized for a couple of the bizarre episodes, including the salacious tweet surrounding the rescue of 12 teenagers and their soccer coach from an underwater cave in Thailand. Nonetheless, the brilliant scientist proved incorrigible on the topic. Almost six weeks later — in an August 28 tweet — Musk deemed it “strange” that the man, Vernon Unsworth, considered a hero for his efforts, hadn’t sued. Musk deleted the gratuitous insult on a day Tesla’s stock dropped — repeating a familiar pattern, and renewing concerns about his behavior. Then within days, Musk’s email response to a Buzzfeed reporter — meant to be off the record — was published. It showed him declaring Unsworth a “child rapist.” On September 17, Unsworth filed a defamation lawsuit against Musk in California’s United States District Court.
FLYING THE FIRST MOON TOURISTS
Capturing the genius’s complexities, on the very same day of the embarrassing development, SpaceX unveiled its first paying customer for a trip around the moon: Yusaku Maezawa, a billionaire as the founder of Japan’s largest internet clothing retailer. Maezawa, 42, plans to invite up to eight artists to join him gratis for the week-long, 240,000-mile ride. The mission, planned for 2023, would be the first lunar journey since 1972 when the famous Apollo missions concluded — and the first ever by regular citizens. Maezawa intends to bring along an architect, dancer, fashion designer, filmmaker, musician, novelist, painter, photographer and sculptor. The group would create artwork reflecting its time in space. Musk described Maezawa — an art collector and former punk drummer— as being brave for his willingness to take the dangerous voyage, an important step in commercializing space travel. Maezawa will fly on the BFR (Big Falcon Rocket), being built by SpaceX to be the biggest and most powerful spaceship ever. He’s funding an undisclosed percentage of the $5 billion development cost. The moon tourist trip is scheduled to occur just one year before Musk’s plans for sending the first humans to Mars. Why distract from such unprecedented greatness with occasional smalltime behavior???Read More