Joey’s Burn Book: Elon Musk


Art by Nicole Armstrong.

Joey Harinsky, Former Deputy Culture Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue.

     Elon Musk, the richest man in the world and CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter, has been called many things over the years. Some call him a genius, some claim he’s one of the only good billionaires; in actuality, he’s a man-baby with too much money for his own good.

     At the end of October, Musk achieved his months-long endeavor to acquire the internet’s largest form of communication: Twitter. The move was controversial, prompting public outrage and a sizable number of Twitter users to leave the site, mostly due to concerns of hate speech. In the following month, Musk has made a series of moves that have lost him money and more importantly, respect from the public. 

     However, this is not the first time Musk has made a move that reeks of a man with an ego problem and too much power for his own good.

     For starters, despite what Musk claims, he did not attain his fortune through hard work and the American Dream, but inherited it. Born in South Africa in the early 1970s, Musk was raised in a wealthy household. His father was an engineer who, more importantly, owned a large stake in an emerald mine that treated its workers like slaves. 

     After attending the University of Pennsylvania in the 1990s, he created PayPal, making Musk a billionaire when it was purchased by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. 

     Over the course of the next two years, Musk established SpaceX and Tesla, his two most successful endeavors to date.    SpaceX took six years to successfully launch a rocket, after which it was given billions of dollars in funding from NASA to develop a rocket that could land back on Earth unharmed, which took another seven years. Tesla, while being known for software and technical failures of their cars over the decades, is widely regarded as one of the leading car companies in America and has pushed the idea of renewable energy.

     Musk’s work at these companies, while commendable on the outside, has only created turmoil on the inside. Several Tesla and SpaceX employees have reported Musk’s unfair and grueling work practices, from long hours to successes unacknowledged.  

     That second point seems to be a constant throughout Musk’s career; he hires genius people and then takes credit for their breakthrough work. Their work has led to the mass integration of electric vehicles in America, as well as the first private spacecraft being sent to space. However, because Musk is the CEO of both companies, he is given full credit by the public and the media. 

     Musk has had a large fall from grace, currently he is running Twitter into the ground, having cut over half of the workforce, causing worries over the stability of the platform. Musk has also begun spreading right-wing propaganda and mistruths that Twitter itself has begun to fact-check. The most interesting part of the whole debacle is that Musk attempted to back out of the deal, yet was sued to ensure the deal was completed.     

     Elon Musk is, at his core, a man with a Napoleon complex and too much money for both his own good and the good of humanity.