Welcome to the first edition of This Week in Elon, a limited-edition weekly newsletter you can get in your inbox by subscribing here.
You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
The parish of rich women, physical decay,
—W. H. Auden, “In Memory of WB Yeats”
Since we’re into poetry this week, I thought I’d just open this bad boy with a little epigraph. While I’m basically always here for poet chat, the rest of you fine and sane people are probably wondering why Elon Musk is posting poetry to his Twitter!
Well, by his own account, Musk is having a rough time. “This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career,” he told The New York Times in an interview published exactly 12 hours after I recorded the Vergecast “This Week in Elon” segment last week. Anyway, there’s a tick-tock of the morning of The Tweet in there, a review of weed (generally), board concern about Ambien use (specifically), and the possibility that Tesla will be getting a number two in that article. It’s a lot! Arianna Huffington took it upon herself to tell Musk to get some sleep. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Musk wasn’t into it. I actually can’t believe I’m about to go to bat for Arianna Huffington but, ladies and gentlemen and everyone else: she’s right!
The thing that would help more than emo-tweeting poetry, probably, is a strong number two. And Musk has hired strong second-in-commands before: Gwynne Shotwell comes immediately to mind. (SpaceX, incidentally, is minding its own business.) Look, the move here — if I am a board member, which unfortunately I am not — is to demand Musk hire the number two as quickly as he can. Then Musk can take like, a month off and get some rest and come back charged up and ready to inspire his workforce with a bunch of energy and new ideas. The Times article indicates this is what the board wants, but Musk, in the article, shoots the idea down.
Musk is having a tough time, partly because of tweeting. (Tweeting is like a specific form of poetry except there’s an audience and it’s usually all riled up.) He tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private and then basically all hell broke loose.
Anyway, a major part of the go-private plan is maybe (?) Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is attempting to diversify away from oil. PIF, however, is also trying to sink $1 billion into Tesla competitor Lucid Motors, which has a baroque roster of problems. Oh, and uh, would-be Tesla competitor NIO has filed for an IPO. So that all looks, at least to my untrained eye, like a headwind.
I... should now deal with the unfolding Azealia Banks thing, which is… probably not helping. The backstory: Grimes, who dates (dated?) Musk, had been planning on collaborating with Banks. Banks claimed she was at Musk’s house and heard him freaking out about funding. The New York Times has confirmed Banks was at Musk’s house. Business Insider has been getting the Azealia Banks side of the story (here’s a helpful timeline!). Banks is posting random text messages from maybe-Grimes and others to social media, with her own inimitable style.
The whole thing gives me a severe case of secondhand embarrassment. And I guess I’m not the only one who’s embarrassed! Grimes and Musk unfollowed each other on Instagram and Twitter; then Musk deleted his Instagram account. Look, I’m 360 idk at this point. I! D! K!
What haunts me, personally, is the possibility of an Azealia Banks deposition by the SEC, which, yes, is apparently investigating something. What I mean is: “This is a special way of being afraid / No trick dispels.”