Who Will Clean Up Elon Musk’s Mess? Musk, Of Course!

(Bloomberg) -- Just when I thought the Elon Musk news cycle might come back to earth for a few days, it erupted, into the stratosphere, yet again.

Musk escalated his attacks against a British man who played a key role in the rescue of the youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand via a series of emails with BuzzFeed. The tribe of beat reporters who regularly cover Tesla Inc. were floored that this was in the news yet again. But it resurfaced because Musk, an extremely busy guy running multiple companies, is astonishingly easy to get a hold of via email. He regularly corresponds with reporters and doesn’t seem to fully understand that “off the record” is an agreement between two parties, not the edict of one.

Then Musk went on the wildly popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast, where he sipped whiskey and took a drag of a blunt containing tobacco mixed with marijuana. “You want some of it? You probably can’t because stockholders, right?” Rogan asked, giving Musk the perfect out. Musk, wearing his Occupy Mars T-shirt, replied, “I mean it’s legal, right?” and then took a drag.

Marijuana use is certainly legal in California, and decriminalization and social acceptance are on the march. But federal law on marijuana remains unchanged, and Space Exploration Technologies Corp.—Musk’s other big company—has significant federal contracts with both the Air Force and NASA, which is trusting SpaceX to fly American astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk’s lack of sleep, use of Ambien and concerns about recreational drug use were a big focus of his New York Times interview. To be blunt: The optics of Musk smoking weed at this juncture weren’t that great.

On Friday, as the stock was cratering thanks to more executive departures, a Musk email detailing some promotions was put out as a Tesla blog post. Absent from the list of corporate vice presidents at Tesla is a communications chief.

During Musk’s failed go-private bid, editors regularly asked me when Tesla would hire a crisis communications team. The reality is that Musk is Tesla comms. He’s also often the root of the crisis, which makes outside advising nearly impossible.

The growing ranks of Tesla alumni are deeply troubled, even saddened, to witness all this chaos from the sidelines. Others acknowledge that Elon is going to be Elon and see his behavior of late as a sign of confidence: Tesla must be on the verge of a killer quarter for Musk to be bold enough to smoke weed on YouTube.

And here’s what you need to know in global technology news

#MeToo allegations toppled Les Moonves, the powerful CBS chief. The broadcaster said yesterday that Moonves was immediately relinquishing his titles of chairman and CEO. The New Yorker reported multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against Moonves, which he denied.

Jack Ma is ready to move on. The Chinese billionaire discussed his plans for life after Alibaba in an interview on Bloomberg TV. In order to focus on philanthropy, he outlined a retirement plan early today and said Daniel Zhang will take over as CEO next year.

Apple warns of a price hike driven by the U.S.-China trade war. The company said proposed U.S. tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China would raise prices for the Apple Watch and AirPods. Although Apple asked the Trump administration to reconsider its position, the president signaled he was all in.

JD investors are in the dark, as its powerful chief is under investigation in the U.S. over a rape allegation. Richard Liu controls 79 percent of voting shares and owns key assets of the Chinese company.

Things are looking worse at Social Capital. The Silicon Valley venture capital firm keeps losing executives, and Chamath Palihapitiya, the CEO and Golden State Warriors co-owner, is mysteriously absent around the office, according to Axios. “I don’t think there will be a next fund,” one investor told Bloomberg in July.

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