Tesla CEO Elon Musk sat down for a sprawling interview with CNBC anchor David Faber on Tuesday following Tesla’s 2023 annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas.
During the course of their approximately hour long conversation, Musk reflected on:
- How he has managed a takeover of Twitter so far and what lies ahead. Among other things, he said Twitter’s Community Notes feature has cost Twitter $40 million in business when two big clients reduced spending after their ads received community notes accusing them of false advertising. He also claimed that when the acquisition closed, Twitter had negative $3 billion in annual cash flow and $1 billion in the bank. “The analogy I was using was like being teleported into a plane that’s in a nosedive headed to the ground with the engines on fire and the controls don’t work….”
- He also defended his own tweets that were widely criticized as lending credence to conspiracies about George Soros and a recent mass shooting event in Allen, Texas, insisting “I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it.”
- His personal views and habits when it comes to work and productivity. He said he takes only two or three days off per year, works seven days a week and gets six hours of sleep a night. He also said he believes it’s morally wrong for people in the “laptop class” to advocate for working from home when service workers, such as people who work in factories, still have to show up in person.
- Tesla’s ability to weather rocky economic cycles. Musk said that the next 12 months will be difficult for Tesla from a macroeconomic perspective because of increased interest rates pinching consumer budgets. But he also said Tesla could take advantage of Tesla’s “real-time information on demand” for its cars to adjust pricing effectively.
- He believes the Fed is going to be too slow to lower interest rates when the economy slows, and that will hurt consumer demand. “You can think of raising the Fed rate as somewhat of a brake pedal on the economy, frankly,” Musk said. “It makes a lot of things more expensive. So if the car payment or your home mortgage is absorbing more of your monthly budget then you have less money to buy other things.”
- What would happen to the global economy if China makes a move to control Taiwan. “The Chinese economy and the rest of the global economy are like conjoined twins. It would be like trying to separate conjoined twins. That’s the severity of the situation. And it’s actually worse for a lot of other companies than it is for Tesla. I mean, I’m not sure where you’re going to get an iPhone, for example.”
- His involvement in the early days of ChatGPT-developer OpenAI, saying that it exists only because he wanted a non-commercial alternative to Google’s growing dominance in AI. He expressed disappointment that the company has abandoned its non-profit roots. And he said he is no longer friends with Google co-founder Larry Page. “The final straw was Larry calling me a ‘species-ist’ for being pro-human consciousness instead of machine consciousness.”
- His political views, including his belief that Joe Biden won the 2020 election and it wasn’t stolen, but that he thinks there was at least some voting fraud. He also said he voted for Biden but hinted he wasn’t happy with his choice, saying “I wish we could have just a normal human being as president.”