Elon Musk is so good because he's so crazy. But that also means he's crazy.
Let's leave the potential for sarcasm open here — the man's Twitter avatar is a Dr. Evil / Dr. No joke — but a new biography of the Tesla and SpaceX founder, who most recently introduced a potentially game-changing home battery, contains some pretty damning details about Musk's views and managerial style.
Written by Bloomberg technology reporter Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future (due out the 19th) includes more than a few memorable quotes, as rounded up by the Washington Post and Business Insider. “My mentality is that of a samurai," Musk reportedly told a potential investor, "I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” Musk also has a strong anti-vacation stance since he nearly died in 2000 from a malaria infection he got following a trip to South Africa and Brazil. “That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacation will kill you.”
Further, Musk seems to harbor rather robotic ideas about dating. “I would like to allocate more time to dating, though," he reportedly said. "I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know." Oh Elon, how romantic!
The quote that people are really seizing on, though, concerns an email to an unnamed Tesla employee who had reportedly asked for time off to be at the birth of his child. “That is no excuse," Musk supposedly wrote, "I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don’t."
Okay, that sounds like some kind of terrible violation of some kind, and it puts Musk somewhere deep in Ayn Rand land. But we'll be sure to update you when Musk almost inevitably disputes or contextualizes the claim. It could be his latest bit of Swiftian satire, you know?