Tesla CEO Elon Musk sat down for a wide-ranging interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday following Tesla’s 2023 annual shareholder meeting in Austin, Texas.
During their roughly hour-long conversation, Musk reflected on:
- How he managed to take over Twitter so far and what’s to come. Among other things, he said Twitter’s community notes feature cost Twitter $40 million when two big customers cut 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 used was like being teleported into a plane that is in a dive, headed for the ground with the engines on and the controls not working. . . .”
- He also protect your own tweets who have been widely criticized for lending credence to conspiracies about George Soros and the recent mass shooting in Allen, Texas, insisting “I’ll say what I want and if it results in a loss of money, so be it.
- His personal views and habits when it comes to work and productivity. He said he only takes two or three days off a year, works seven days a week and gets six hours of sleep a night. He also said he believed it was morally wrong for people in the “laptop class” to advocate working from home when service workers, such as people who work in factories, still had to show up in person.
- Tesla’s ability to withstand volatile economic cycles. Musk said the next 12 months will be difficult for Tesla from a macroeconomic perspective due to rising interest rates that are straining consumer budgets. But he also said Tesla could take advantage of Tesla’s “real-time, on-demand information” about its cars to effectively adjust prices.
- He believes The Fed will be too slow to cut rates when the economy slows down and that will hurt consumer demand. “You can think of a Fed rate hike as kind of a brake pedal on the economy, frankly,” Musk said. “It makes a lot of things more expensive. So if your car payment or your home mortgage eats up more of your monthly budget, then you have less money to buy other things.”
- What will happen to the global economy if China makes a move to control Taiwan. “The Chinese economy and the rest of the world economy are like Siamese twins. It would be like trying to separate conjoined twins. That is the seriousness of the situation. And it’s actually worse for many other companies than 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 it exists only because it wants a non-commercial alternative to Google’s growing AI dominance. He expressed disappointment that the company had abandoned its nonprofit roots. And he said he’s no longer friends with Google co-founder Larry Page. “The last straw was Larry calling me a ‘specialist’ because I’m 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 vote fraud. He also said he voted for Biden, but hinted he wasn’t happy with his choice, saying, “I wish we had just a normal human being as president.”