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Elon Musk

Elon Musk certainly has a lot of ideas. Since making a fortune from PayPal in the original dotcom boom, he's taken over Tesla, pushing forward production of electric cars, and founded SpaceX, the rocket company that now flies plenty of NASA payloads. Two newer companies — the Boring Company, focused on digging holes for transit tunnels, and NeuraLink, which is developing brain-computer interfaces — also occupy his time. Then there's the Hyperloop, the high-speed land travel design he's encouraged others to develop. Somehow, this brash billionaire still has time to get himself into trouble on Twitter.

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Twitter
Tesla Roadster is coming. No really!

Elon Musk isn’t great with timelines so take his latest proclamations about a 2024 reveal for the second generation Roadster announced in 2017 with appropriate skepticism, especially since he already missed the 20202022, and 2023 dates.

Technically he says “aiming to ship next yea” which is either a typo for 2025 or a tactic to avoid accountability.


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“Why am I on fire?”

Workers suffered chemical burns while digging a tunnel in Las Vegas for Elon Musk’s Boring Company, according to a state OSHA investigation. “You’d be like, ‘Why am I on fire?’” one worker told Bloomberg Businessweek.

They routinely waded through chemical-laced water, which burned and scarred workers when it splashed onto their skin. OSHA reportedly fined the Boring Company $112,504 last fall for eight “serious” violations. Musk’s company is contesting the findings of the investigation.


Is “Adrian Dittmann” actually Elon Musk?

Dittmann has found media attention before due to sounding almost identical to the Tesla CEO, but after appearing on Alex Jones’s Infowars podcast, people now suspect that he may actually be Musk masquerading under a false name.

It's an uncanny vocal likeness, and it’s not like Musk doesn’t have a history of allegedly using burner accounts.


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One of the last ways to access Twitter without an account is dead.

Nitter, the open-source, tracker-free Twitter front end, joins the other great third-party apps in the API afterlife.

Activist IT collective NoLog, which ran one of the largest Nitter instances, has shut it down, three weeks after Nitter’s developer said the project was dead.


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Elon Musk’s Neuralink is now a Nevada company.

Last week, Musk said he wanted to move Tesla’s incorporation to Texas after a Delaware judge struck down his $55 billion pay package, but as Bloomberg notes, that would take a shareholder vote. There’s no such restriction on Neuralink.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Musk isn’t the only billionaire railing against Delaware’s rules, but that despite Nevada’s friendly laws, lawyers “prefer the simplicity” of Delaware incorporation.

Update February 11th, 2024, 2:06PM ET: Added context from The Wall Street Journal.


Welcome to the first Thursday Decoder.

This week marks the launch of Decoder’s second episode, which will explain big topics in the news with Verge reporters, experts, and other friends of the show. (The other Decoder you know and love, featuring big interviews with CEOs and others, now publishes every Monday.)

For this episode, I sat down with Verge Transportation Editor Andy Hawkins, to discuss a fantastic article he wrote called, “The EV Transition trips over its own cord.” It’s all about how the momentum for electric cars in America has started to hit serious snags, even as more people than ever before go fully electric. Check it out.


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The guy behind internet gossip blog Crazy Days and Nights actually was a lawyer, Daily Beast says.

The Daily Beast says it identified the site’s lead blogger through a filing in a Florida court — after he had an affair with a woman that’s led to “dueling legal complaints and accusations of abusive behavior.” When the blogger sought a restraining order, he revealed enough details about himself to be identifiable.

Not all of the blind items on CDaN were true — the blog says so itself. But it did occasionally post tech industry rumors; a favorite “celebrity CEO,” for instance, was Elon Musk .


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SpaceX is being investigated for discrimination and sexual harassment.

The California Civil Rights Department is investigating complaints by seven workers that SpaceX execs “discriminated against women, joked about sexual harassment and fired workers for raising concerns,” reports Bloomberg and Reuters.

The same agency is also suing Tesla over charges of operating a “racially segregated workplace.”

In the SpaceX complaints, employees cite a pattern of discrimination, as well as inappropriate tweets by Musk that they said they couldn’t easily avoid because he uses the platform for important company announcements.


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How independent are the boards of Musk’s companies?

Not very, according to The Wall Street Journal’s examination, published last night.

It’s not just that some members have earned, for example, “hundreds of millions of dollars” — far more than typical board member compensation, the Journal says.

It’s that reportedly, some members are heavily invested in Musk’s and each other’s companies, and regularly do drugs with him “because they think refraining could upset the billionaire, who has made them a lot of money.”


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Tesla will pay $1.5 million to settle a California lawsuit over dumping hazardous waste.

Tesla was being sued by 25 California DAs for dumping hazardous automotive components and waste like metal car panel welding spatter in the trash instead of handling it appropriately.

As TechCrunch points out, Tesla will pay $1.3 million in civil penalties, $200k for the costs of the investigation, and comply with an injunction for five years with training for employees and audits of its trash containers.


Elon Musk has news on Neuralink’s first human implant and a new product name: Telepathy.

Elon Musk’s other other company, the brain-machine interface startup Neuralink, has apparently put an implant in a human, who is recovering well and seeing “promising neuron spike detection.”

As for why you’d let Musk put a chip in your brain, he says its first product, Telepathy, would bring control of a phone or computer just by thinking, as demonstrated previously with Pong-playing monkeysread here for more on the monkey experiments.


Elon tweets reading: “The first human received an implant from @Neuralink  yesterday and is recovering well.  Initial results show promising neuron spike detection.” “The first @Neuralink  product is called Telepathy.” “Enables control of your phone or computer, and through them almost any device, just by thinking.  Initial users will be those who have lost the use of their limbs.   Imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or auctioneer. That is the goal.”
Elon Musk Neuralink tweets on January 29th, 2024.
Screenshot: Elon Musk (X) (1) (2)
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Elon Musk’s xAI is halfway to its $1 billion funding goal.

The AI company is also discussing an eye-watering valuation of between $15 billion and $20 billion, Bloomberg reports. (AI companies have been seeking huge valuations as of late.) xAI had raised $137.4 million toward that $1 billion goal as of early December.

However, Musk called the report “simply not accurate” in a reply to a post that linked Bloomberg’s story last night.

Update January 20th, 2024, 10:45AM ET: Added Elon Musk’s comment on the matter.


Elon Musk is uncomfortable with the amount of control Elon Musk has over Tesla.

The Tesla CEO and X CTO / owner writes that “I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without having ~25% voting control,” and proposed building products (like Grok?) outside of Tesla instead.

Musk’s stake in the company reportedly dropped to 13.4 percent in 2022 as he sold shares and acquired X, then known as Twitter. Now there’s this statement, a recent WSJ report citing concerns about drug use, and... Tesla’s Q4 earnings report coming up on January 24th.


“I am uncomfortable growing Tesla to be a leader in AI & robotics without ~25% control. Enough to be influential, but not so much I can’t be overturned. Unless that is the case, I would prefer to build products outside of Tesla. You don’t seem to understand Tesla is not one startup, but a dozen. Simply look at the delta between what Tesla does and GM.  As for stock ownership itself being enough motivation, Fidelity and other own similar stakes. Why don’t they show up for work?”
Image: @elonmusk (X)
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The Verge
X is still promising peer to peer payments in 2024.

X CEO and former award-winning DEI executive Linda Yaccarino is promoting the company’s 2024 plans for AI and Grok, as well as the “video first” experience that included so many unauthorized Super Mario Bros. Movie streams.

Upcoming features mentioned include a “see dissimilar posts” option, as well as payments. The latter is something Elon mentioned when he took over the company, and, as Liz Lopatto explains, has been a pursuit of his for much longer than that.


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Elon Musk’s alleged drug use is worrying Tesla and SpaceX execs,

At least according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal that claims that SpaceX and Tesla executives and board members are concerned about how Musk’s drug use could affect his health — and his businesses.

Musk, thanks to SpaceX, is deeply entangled with the US federal government, and his antics have cost him before, such as when the Pentagon investigated him after he smoked pot on Joe Rogan’s podcast.


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X said to be worth less than 29 percent of what Musk paid.

Fidelity, an investor that put over $300 million into Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, now believes the company is worth 71.5 percent less than the $44 billion paid for it, Axios reports. That implies a total valuation of between $12 and $13 billion and includes a drop of 10.7 percent in the month of November alone when Musk told advertisers to “go fuck” themselves.


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Elon Musk’s X can’t shake off a lawsuit over millions of dollars in unpaid Twitter bonuses.

In this entry into the list of lawsuits over unpaid Twitter bills, Courthouse News reports Mark Schobinger’s class action lawsuit is over unpaid 2022 annual bonuses. Schobinger, notably, is Twitter’s former senior director of compensation.

He says execs’ promises of a 50 percent payout for those who remained through Q1 of 2023 kept employees around during Elon’s “hardcoretakeover, but now the company argues its oral promise wasn’t enforceable. The judge didn’t buy that, writing that “Twitter’s contrary arguments all fail,” so the case will proceed.


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Pop quiz, hotshot: who do you think the sources on this story are?

It’s about Elon Musk bragging to the banks that backed his Twitter takeover that he never lost money for his investors.

Meanwhile:

One multibillion-dollar firm that specialises in distressed debt called X’s debt “uninvestable”.

My guesses are: juniors at the banks angling to make more-senior employees look dumb in order to take their jobs or employees who cautioned against the Musk debt doing a public “I told you so.”


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Tesla’s new Optimus Gen 2 robot.

The latest Tesla Bot is a little bit lighter, walks faster, and balances better with improvements throughout, including in the function of its neck, feet, and hands. But is it the “friend” Elon Musk says will cost “much less than $20,000” and allow for “a future where there is no poverty?” Probably not.


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Ad sales on X are reportedly about about a half billion lower than anticipated for 2023.

Bloomberg cites unnamed sources in this report about how much ad revenue has dropped for the platform formerly known as Twitter as its CTO continues to drive advertisers away, saying it’s on track for $2.5 billion this year despite internal targets for $3 billion.

X generated a little more than $600 million in advertising revenue in each of the first three quarters of the year, and is anticipating a similar performance in the current period, according to a person familiar with the numbers. That compares to more than $1 billion per quarter in 2022.

The X head of business operations, Joe Benarroch, is quoted disputing the figures, claiming the sources “are not providing accurate and comprehensive details... We are not Twitter any longer and not measuring ourselves by old Twitter metrics — both in revenue and user metrics.”


Is Threads signing a major free agent away from Elon Musk?

Even as big advertisers exit, sports Twitter has continued going strong. But now the official Threads account announced that sports/NBA Twitter’s newsbreaker Adrian Wojnarowski “has landed” and is doing a Q&A Friday.

If “woj bombs” are on the move, it might be about more than hashtags — Wojnarowski works at ESPN, which is still owned by Disney. Musk singled out Disney CEO Bob Iger with his “go f yourself” comments last week, then followed up with more attacks and accusations today while misspelling Iger’s name and saying “He should be fired immediately.”


Today on The Vergecast: Cybertruck details, billionaire drama, and digital gods.

Somehow, even after the Cybertruck launched, we still don’t know how many wipers it has. But we do know a lot more about it, including how to open the door! We also kinda sorta got some closure on the OpenAI drama, but as always the CEOs are still out here saying some wild stuff on stage and on the internet. Thank goodness we have a podcast where we get to loudly ask the digital gods: why?


Cybertruck doors: apparently very complicated!

As Elon Musk hands off the first production Cybertrucks to owners, he’s had to show almost every single one of them how to open the passenger door. “You just press this button over here,” he keeps saying, pointing to a spot that I think is on the B-pillar, just at the back of the door.

Tesla: lots of interesting ideas about cars, way more weird ideas about how to open them.