A year ago, Tesla, Inc. CEO Elon Musk was known as a visionary entrepreneur who was revolutionizing the auto industry. While gossip pages chronicled his love life, Musk’s company was jockeying with General Motors Co. for the top spot among U.S. car makers by market value. He was talking about landing spaceships on Mars by 2022.
The last 12 months have seen Musk at his most mercurial – picking fights with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), hawking flamethrowers and going viral by smoking marijuana during a podcast interview, among other outlandish behavior.
Here are some of the major Musk-related stories from 2018.
- Naturally, the Tesla CEO’s battle with the SEC made headlines throughout the year. It started with the revelation that the securities regulator investigated the hotly anticipated roll-out of Tesla’s Model 3, the company’s first effort at an electric car for the masses.
- Musk’s Trumpian performance on an earnings call in May ignited a feud with the media and also prompted a rebuke from investing titan Warren Buffett.
- Social media posts in August pointing to a plan to take Tesla private sparked rampant speculation about whether or not Musk had violated SEC rules, not to mention his state of mind.
- The alleged take-private plan touted by Musk turned out to be bunk, which apparently left him dead to rights on securities fraud charges. However, a favorable settlement with the SEC left observers wondering if Musk and Tesla were getting the “too big to fail” treatment from Washington.
- Throughout the year, investors found themselves wrangling with big contradictions about Tesla that are key to the company’s future.
Musk is showing no signs of slowing down in 2019 in either his role as a news-generator or SEC-antagonist. Just last week, in a 60 Minutes interview, he professed his lack of respect for the SEC and refused to curtail his aggressive Twitter behavior, clearly emboldened by the relatively light slap on the wrist he received from the securities regulator. In a candid moment, he also admitted to being under insane stress in 2018. If he thought 2018 was anxiety-inducing, we imagine 2019 will be downright nerve-wracking as he fights protracted battles on numerous fronts.