What I think Musk Did, Genius Manipulator he is, by Threatening to Decimate Tesla’s Salaried Staff & Management while Increasing Headcount of Factory Workers

He has a rebellion over WFH on his hands, not a demand problem for EVs, and is knuckling them into submission.

By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.

Musk is a genius who walks on water and was able to manipulate the price of Tesla’s shares from get-go into the stratosphere while luring investors into buying newly issued shares and convertible bonds for a decade to fuel his cash-burn machine. This gave the company the $20 billion needed to design and build cars, and now lots of cars, and not any cars, but EVs, while the legacy automakers blew him off, and they ridiculed EVs, until suddenly Tesla was eating their lunch and taking their share in a market that has been stagnant for over 20 years with huge troughs in between.

And when he threatened to come out with a pickup that might drain the lifeblood out of companies that had gotten dependent on their fat-margin pickups, such as Ford, they all suddenly got religion.

In his cunning and manipulative ways, Musk not only built Tesla but also shook up the entire auto industry and put EVs on the map. This was true genius. So I don’t ever want to underestimate his cunning manipulative ways.

This stuff doesn’t work forever, obviously, and Tesla’s stock is down 44% from the high, including the 9.2% drop today. But it’s still sky-high, and still gives the company a ridiculous market cap of $800 billion, and still trades at a ridiculous P/E ratio of 95.

So now there is an email that Musk apparently sent to employees, which Reuters has “seen” and reported on today. In this purported email to employees, Musk essentially cut Tesla employees into two groups:

  • The hourly employees that work in the factories
  • The salaried staff, including management and executives.

In the email, Musk wrote that Tesla has become “overstaffed in many areas,” and the salaried staff would be cut by 10%.

“Note, this does not apply to anyone actually building cars, battery packs or installing solar,” he wrote in the email.

The “hourly headcount will increase,” he wrote. Apparently, there is red-hot demand for EVs, and the number of people that make them would increase so that they could make more cars to meet demand.

He had a “super bad feeling” about the economy, he said, by way of reason for the decimation of the salaried staff.

Ironically, the super bad feeling didn’t extend to the demand for Tesla’s vehicles because the production staff headcount would be increased to meet that demand.

He also ordered a hiring freeze worldwide, which I’m not sure how that’s going to get worked out with hourly employee headcount increasing while salaried headcount getting decimated.

This email was revealed a couple of days after the indirect revelation of a kind of a revolt by some of Tesla’s salaried staff who’ve been working from home, and didn’t want to come back to the office, despite Musk’s insistence that they do so.

A duly leaked email to Tesla’s executive staff – dated May 31, titled, “Remote work is no longer acceptble” [sic],” and signed “Elon” – spelled out Musk’s new policies about working from home:

“Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean ‘minimum’) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers,” it said. So, OK.

And when he was asked on Twitter for “​​additional comment to people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept,” Musk tweeted: “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

It seems, Musk, like other CEOs, is staring down a revolt by his WFH employees that don’t want to go fight the rush-hour insanity ever again and that finally feel empowered by the labor shortages.

So let’s think this through for a moment…

If I were Chief Evil Boss at Tesla, and if I had a bunch of pampered highly-salaried staff, managers, and executives insisting on continued WFH, when I really wanted them in the office, and if I had this sort of rebellion on my hands, I would write this hilarious email about working from home is OK, as long as you work at least 40 hours a week at the office, and at the first opportunity, I would tweet that people who want to work remotely should pretend to work somewhere else.

Then a little later, being Chief Evil Boss, I would send another email that would be leaked, in which I would explain that I have a super bad feeling about the economy, and that I would increase the headcount of the hourly workers at the factory so that they could build more cars to meet red-hot demand, but I would decimate the salaried staff and management by 10% – axing every tenth person in that group – because Tesla was suddenly “overstaffed” with salaried staff.

This is the time-honored tradition of the threat of collective punishment. Roman commanders instituted “decimation” to punish their soldiers collectively, if they didn’t perform. They might line up a guilty unit of legionnaires, or an entire rebellions legion, and each tenth solder was then killed on the spot by the others. This threat hanging over their heads was a management tactic designed to motivate legionnaires to do what commanders told them to do.

So, if I were Chief Evil Boss with a revolt on my hands from people who didn’t want to work at least 40 hours a week at the office, I would let the world know that at Tesla’s offices, there is no labor shortage but a labor glut, and so forget the labor shortages and tight labor market, and every tenth of you is going to get axed, so you better show up at the office 40 hours a week, and then you can work remotely the rest of the time.

If I were Chief Evil Boss, I would use this threat to knuckle the salaried WFH staff into submission, and they’d start showing up at the office. That’s what I think Musk did here, genius manipulator that he is.

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  270 comments for “What I think Musk Did, Genius Manipulator he is, by Threatening to Decimate Tesla’s Salaried Staff & Management while Increasing Headcount of Factory Workers

  1. andy says:

    Musk gives Charles Ponzi a good name.

    • 2banana says:

      Musk actually delivers a product people want.

      Ponzi, on the other hand, never took a dime in government tax credits or subsidies.

      • Raj says:

        Musk only skillfully navigated the bubble created by the fed and the government. Musk did not manipulate the markets any more than what the Fed and the treasury did.

        Musk did not promote speculation over actual hard work, wallstreet rewarded this behavior with free money from Fed.

        There is nothing wrong with an employer expecting his / her employee to show up for work and put actual effort in doing this work. It has become a problem because value of Dollar is falling and cost of living and housing and rents are rising very fast. This again is not a problem created by Elon Musk.

        • andy says:

          What about Tesla Bot (a guy robot-dancing in silver tights)?

        • Ed says:

          Musk is a genius, I think.

          But every single one of his businesses have benefitted from special help from government. That’s less true of, say, Ford Motor.

      • andy says:

        Bernie Madoff delivered product people want. People can’t get enough plastic wheel covers for under $55K. Or Cybertrucks with bulletproof windows. Or stock split rumors while Elon sells $Billions in shares.

      • sc7 says:

        Does he? Where’s the self-driving car from CA to NY he promised end of year… 5 years ago? Or the Cybertruck? Or the autonomous semi?

        elonmusk.today exposes what a nut job fraud he is.

    • RH says:

      Yes. There is apparently a goal being carried out to prevent American workers from getting decent wages, I think. (The better fix would be more efficient, cheaper, US healthcare which cost component is what drives up US labor costs: the US has the worst and most expensive healthcare in the world per Harvard, Time, Statistica, the Atlantic, etc.) Now, Musk has also given his electric vehicle technology to communist China and hopes to transport his CCP-factory-made vehicles, probably produced at least with components from CCP-slave factories, to sell to the US at ultra-low-CCP-subsidized prices to drive US manufacturers out of business and US workers out of jobs.

      Of course, GM, Volvo, and other companies are also effectively now CCP companies, since GM moved so much to CCP factories and Volvo was purchased by those companies. Moreover, more and more electronic products now are being made in China without even the cover of an American or EU company’s name being used to cover up that ownership anymore. Just look at the electronic products advertised on Amazon or other websites, and you will see that most are now purely Chinese brands.

      With leaders like those, who needs enemies? Now, GM has allegedly created a better battery to beat Tesla: I do not know who I want to see fail now, Tesla or GM? I am holding on to my ICE BMWs for the future now.

    • gametv says:

      Musk has transformed an industry. Sorry, but everyone calling him names is just jealous.

      Bottom line, why is it so evil to demand that employees WORK for a living? Particularly the salaried staff who are generally pampered.

      There are tons of people who want to put Tesla on their resume, so anyone leaving can easily be replaced. Sure, there are a handful of people that Musk would create exemptions for.

      Musk blazed a trail that every car maker is now trying to follow and many are going to either fail, or just do a poor job of it. He accomplished what he has by never accepting mediocrity or excuses.

  2. Phoenix_Ikki says:

    F MUSK, his manipulative way work so well in this country because we have a sickening way of idolizing false idol and anyone that can promise you the world without ever delivering. His schtick works because of how people are so often disillusioned and looking for the next savior as Chris Hedges pointed out time and time again.

    And for the people that work there, you do so at your own peril since other places that will treat you with some shred of dignity still exist, so you are either a Kool aid drinker and really think you are saving the world and worth putting up with the abuse from this evil “genius” or got duped into thinking it’s a decent place to work in which case it’s not too late to get out now.

    • 2banana says:

      Talking with young hot shot engineers…

      They ALL want to work for Musk.

      GM? Lockheed Martin? ExxonMobil? A utility?

      No way boomer!

      • Phoenix_Ikki says:

        Well if they want to drink those Kool Aid so much, by all means and if they still don’t wake and walk away when they find out it’s Jim Jones kind of flavor..then there’s where my sympathy ends

        • 2banana says:

          I just called some retired GM and GE retired engineers who lost most of their pensions in those bankruptcies.

          While those with political connections made out great.

          At least you are having fun and pushing the envelope with Musk.

      • JGarbo says:

        He hires only the best, pays the best (plus options-many staff are already millionaires but still work there). He’s doing stuff, eg *reusable* rockets!!, that NASA never considered. His EVs are the best – VW asked his advice?!.
        He’s the smartest boy in the class, and doesn’t seem to care about money – no salary, 14 hr days, $50K cottage on Tesla lot. And wicked sense of humor…
        The industry hates him b/c he shows what can be done.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          AGREE with YOU,,, SO much jg:
          And will only add that in spite of not getting my bid for the company I was working for,,,
          a very good company, far shore,,,, for the ”build out” of the landing place at vandenburg for SpaceX,,,
          I was very impressed by both the clarity of the communications from SpaceX folks, and their very clear answers to my ”prebid” questions.
          Haters will hate no matter what…
          Doers will do, in spite of all the haters…
          ”Let’s get real” and the Wolfster is ABSOLUTELY,,,, totally in front of the effort for WE,,, in this case not only WE investors,,,
          but WE the PEONs, who at least HOPE to continue to increase both democracy ,,,
          but, maybe much more important to our species,,,
          Really and truly ””’ fair market capitalism”
          Never seen in the world SO FAR, but some of WE THE PEONs who work hard and save as much as WE can can at least keep hoping, eh???

        • intosh says:

          That’s some juicy kool-aid.

          No, he didn’t build any of that. He is a good investor/salesman and manipulator.

          VW asked for advice? Because of some PR tweets and youtube videos you saw? It was a PR win-win for both sides. How gullible are you? Did you also believe Tesla open-sourced their secrets, as Musk announced a few years ago?

          He doesn’t care about money, except manipulate stock prices ans whine about taxes he had to pay.

          One person’s “wicked sense of humour” is another person’s wicked bullying and harassment.

          But of course, anyone who doesn’t drink the kool-aid is a hater.

        • Ben says:

          Agreed. Any employee that doesn’t like it and doesn’t “feel” respected can take their feelings and go start their own car company. That’s the beauty of a free market economy. Its not “their” job. It’s Elon’s and the stock holder’s jobs to offer or terminate as they see fit…whatever is best for the company. If Elon gets a bad rep for not treating his employees well, then that’s a problem he’ll need to solve. If not, then hire and fire at will (or as permitted by state law) because jobs do NOT “belong” to the employee. This notion that once someone gets a job that it is “theirs” is nothing but further evidence of the false sense of entitlement in this day and age. Those people are best served by moving to a socialist or communist country for the job security that is offered there. Not happening here in the USA not matter how much whining goes on.

        • Boring Young Engineer says:

          He actually pays the worst in the industry with the worst benefits. If you had stock you’ve already left.

          *Reusable* rockets have been unprofitable so he made up his own media company with Starlink because he can’t make money from launches. Reusable rockets aren’t exactly new. We’ve had a space shuttle that was reusable.

          EVs have lost their lusture and are no longer the best. There are a lot of competitors that offer better EVs nowadays.

          No salary? The man is the richest person in the world. That’s like calling Bezos a humble man who doesn’t make much. 14 hour days is such BS. Dude spends all his day playing video games and tweeting. He’s tweeting and claiming it’s work because his engineers do the work. By that logic, GM CEO is the smartest man in the world because he’s an expert in aviation engines and works 14 hour days while being broke (he’s no where near as rich as Musk!). I don’t know why everyone is quick to claim Musk is a genius when his claim to fame is that an engineer he hired figured out how to make rockets more profitable or some other engineer designed a good car. Musk didn’t do anymore or less than the CEO of GM and gets 10x the praise.

      • Boring Young Engineer says:

        I’ve worked with Lockheed as a young hot shot engineer. Is it as fun as working for spacex? Well we definitely don’t get a froyo machine or unpaid overtime. However we do make 30% more and can work from home.

        I honestly don’t care about the products we create vs what Musk creates. They pay more and give more vacation and more freetime. Things that matter a whole lot more after you’ve worked for a few years and get the naivety beat out of you.

        Once you realize “The Mission” doesn’t pay for a house or retirement benefits, you really start to care less. Musk has a lot of turn over and no engineering based company can survive this.

        Cybertruck was supposed to be first to the market EV truck but now it’s no where to be seen and competitors are already producing trucks. One I’ve already seen on the street! NHTSA is looking into the terrible autopilot and the model 3/model y is really starting to show it’s age with no refresh or update in site. Musk isn’t a serious competitor and with higher money lending rates he’s going to collapse.

        He’s trying to buy twitter because he needs to do something with his cash before it evaporates.

        Also every idiot claims he’s a genius. Yet the man has hired thousands of engineers. If he’s so smart, he should fire all the engineering staff and do it himself. No CEO is that dumb to believe that engineering staff is all just for show. He’s going to go broke eventually. Happened to Theranos after 15 years, all a matter of time.

    • Whatsmynameagain says:

      Tesla apparently pays less on average than most of the other auto companies, has not-as-great benefits, and is a stressful place to work. It has great branding and Musk is idolized so people seem to want to work there, but it’s a shiny toy and it burns people out. Eventually the toy won’t be so shiny, and from the looks of it (and especially as a result of musk’s repeated tantrums), it’s losing its gloss real fast. If I worked for this tyrannical boss, I would run for the exits. Driving a Tesla may still be cool but if someone told me they worked for this dude I guess I would have to pity their lack of self respect.

      • Massbytes says:

        Tesla does not pay less than the other auto companies. But he does require them to work very hard. Last I heard Tesla was ranked very highly as to places where people want to work.

        • Cynical Engineer says:

          The auto industry as a whole doesn’t pay very well. Many years ago, my primary industry was dying off and I looked into switching over to automotive (which was still a red-hot user of microcontrollers), and discovered that I would be making about 1/2 of what I had made in the industrial/networking sectors.

          I found an alternative and never looked back.

          Automotive doesn’t pay well, and it shows. This is a significant factor in why all the infotainment systems are such hot messes. You’ll never hire the best if you pay 50% of the competition.

      • Petunia says:

        I was visiting in Austin in early 2021, the talk was that Tesla had gutted all the plumbing contractors of plumbers by offering $58HR to any that signed up to work on his gigafactory. That’s $120K base pay without OT. Not bad money for a factory worker.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Pet:
          Many, on here and in the ditches in some places, have absolutely NOT gotten the message yet,,, but equally clearly many in THE bay area have told me they have paid $170 for the trades folks,,, “TO SHOW UP”,,, and then paid north of that per hour…

        • SK says:

          My plumber charges $130/hour which is actually a little lower than other plumbers I’ve used. He is a very personable young fellow in his early 30s who attended a local vocational/technical HS and is licensed for HVAC as well. Works with his brother and an apprentice.

          I asked him if that’s better money than having a full time job for another company and he said it’s about equal, except that as an employee he would have to be on call, and he likes to have weekends off to be with the family.

          He says he rarely has to go out on emergency calls because he keeps his regular customers’ equipment well-maintained.

          (Boston area)

    • Ed C says:

      “… other places that will treat you with some shred of dignity still exist …”. In my experience, no they don’t, especially if you are an older employee and especially if you are an older engineer. I worked for a company (not GE) that adapted the horrible dysfunctional culture pushed by Neutron Jack Welch. Stacked ranking. Bottom 10% labeled ‘under-performers and thrown in the shameful 9-block ‘elbow’. No raises or promotions for them and living on borrowed time. I’d take Tesla any day over that.

    • PeterEV says:

      Musk may be a savior of sorts. All one has to do is search on Exxon View to 2050 then click on Energy supply. There is a graph there depicting the peaking of World Oil Supply:
      https://corporate.exxonmobil.com/Energy-and-innovation/Outlook-for-Energy/Energy-supply#Liquids

      The peak is somewhere in the late 2030’s to early 2040’s. If Musk had not come along, I’m not sure if we would have any EVs from ICE manufacturers.

      The other point is that we are still importing crude oil from places like Russia. We would be in a better position if we had less crude oil imports.

  3. Jack X says:

    Elon is no genius, Elon Musk is Jeff Skilling, soon he’ll be outed.

    • Flea says:

      2 bananas Musk is just another corporate welfare corporations,GM Goldman sucks ,JPMorgan the list never stops . Forgot farmers life blood of this country

  4. Russ says:

    Unless/until they call his bluff!

  5. 2banana says:

    Chief Evil Boss:

    No severance benefits to pay to folks that quit.

    No unemployment compensation to pay to folks that quit (companies get dinged for every layoff).

    Lowest cost RIF eva!

    The only possible miscalculation..

    He has got to keep his engineers. Not everyone on “staff” is a droner paper pusher. Some salary personnel are absolutely essential so that the hourly put the correct peg A into slot C and with the correct software.

    “but I would decimate the salaried staff and management by 10%”

    • RepubAnon says:

      Typically, the best and brightest find new jobs and quit, leaving the mediocre workers. Musk will be lucky to lose only 10%.

      As for the young hot shots – this is a 1980s throwback. Silly Valley firms used to hire hot shots, work them to burnout, then hire a new crop.

      As for the abuse – that’s 80’s retro as well. Sounds like Musk is just channeling his inner Neutron Jack Welch

      • Petunia says:

        In Austin, Tesla is the place to work and the car to drive. Saw it myself.

        And Musk is still the smartest guy in any room, IMO.

      • Moosy says:

        The little small print in his message is that exceptions can be made and personally approved. That can be a list of 1000 names .

        Those you want to retain you bent the new rules for. No extra cost but they will have the feeling they got something extra.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      But …a…what about…Covid…???

      Didn’t that put WFH on steroids?

      Covid Theater meet Tesla Circus Tent.

  6. Harrold says:

    Yes, Musk is a master manipulator. But he also holds all the cards, and he’s right. The people building the cars are what’s important. Office workers have no special skills and are easily replaced.

    WFH is pretend work. That might have been acceptable during the pandemic, but the pandemic is long over. He’s probably seen internal studies and knows 30% could leave with no great loss.

    • Phoenix_Ikki says:

      Ok Boomer..next time before you generalize all WFH as pretend work just try to Google some companies that has been full remote since even before the pandemic. They are even profitable as well, if pretend work got them there then sign me up.

      And trust me you can pretend work sitting in an office 40hrs a week too. If you don’t think that’s thing I have a bridge to sell you as well..m

      • Cem says:

        That’s the thing. People were shooting shits in the office before the pandemic. My current team cannot slack off at home or else the SVPs will come looking for us to do, our job.

        In office we get so much less done cause even our execs want to shoot shits with us.

        With that said there is A LOT of folks who don’t even shoot these shits, they just kind of hangout? And they can go find a new job. I worked hard and spent decent money to gain my skills. But there’s definitely fluff among the ranks.

        Total side note but booked business AND invoiced business has seen a concerning slow down QTD. Recessions may be psychological but I’m seeing it already.

      • Iona says:

        I’ve worked from home full time since 2017, and a bit here and there before that. Much more productive at home than in the office, but I live alone and have no pets or distractions. Way too much politics and schmoozing in a lot of offices. With MS teams or similar you can collaborate very easily among a distributed team.

        • SocalJohn says:

          I have a completely different complaint about WFH, at least for technical occupations. There is no substitute for in-person collaboration and brain storming. Especially true for people who are somewhat introverted, which is extremely common among engineers and scientists. As an engineering manager I have seen enormous problems due to insufficient communication and collaboration. Everyone with any amount of experience in stem fields knows what I am taking about. WFH makes this problem worse. For the sake of all of the hard working engineers and scientists, i hope WFH dies. I admit it is convenient, and I have done it myself a lot, but I can see the aforementioned problems in my work place.

        • VintageVNvet says:

          Gotta AGREE, like totally I:
          ”WFH” for decades as my own boss, usually about 80 hours per week and every day!
          Had several employer/clients after that who were smart enough to see the difference of ”productivity” for the hours I billed them working from home versus in their offices.
          But, similarly, had no ”home burden” but only because spouse understood very clearly to ”leave me the fook alone” when I was working, DO NOT INTERRUPT ”AT ALL when the old boy is concentrating, and also made the various doggies leave me alone too…
          ”SELF discipline” folks,,, repeat, ”SELF DISCIPLINE” on which topic our Wolfster is very likely a total master from what I see of his work from home…

        • Marteen says:

          SocalJohn, I am a talented tech worker and am absolutely not interested in your brainstorming BS. My only goal is my compensation and my career. I don’t want to waste my time talking about out how to fix my employer’s problems. I will find and fix a problem on my own, get all the credit, and move on.

        • SocalJohn says:

          Marteen, good luck.

        • Apple says:

          Elon Musk doesn’t live in China, but yet manages a Gigafactory that produces 8,000 vehicles a week.

        • intosh says:

          “Especially true for people who are somewhat introverted, which is extremely common among engineers and scientists. As an engineering manager I have seen enormous problems due to insufficient communication and collaboration.”

          That’s because highly technical work REQUIRES deep solo-flight of thought. Thats what skilled technical workers DO and that’s where significant results are produced for hard problems — rarely in brainstorming sessions.

          There are countless open-sourced projects that not only worked but thrived. Those often emerged from remote collaborations.

          Sounds like you have a management problem, not a WFH problem. Perhaps management failed to guide and coach their people — they fail to adapt.

      • Whatsmynameagain says:

        I for one am so happy to be back in the office. Working from home we had so much more work it was becoming unmanageable. Now that we’re back, I can pretend to be in meetings or typing away on emails and as long as I pass my higher ups in the hallways they think I’m being productive. The daily check ins are gone where I’d be giving six to eight project updates every morning, and now they’re once per week with the same amount of updates, so essentially I’m doing 1/5 of the work now that we’re back. I was more efficient at home but I was way more tired, and although I hate listening to my coworker sit in my office and tell me about his weekend sexscapades for hours every Monday, I’m happy to be back to the performative work of prepandemic times. ;)

      • kam says:

        Pretend to work, while getting paid with generous benefits and pensions?
        It’s called Government. Dead weight, lazy whiners.

        • Calvin Tompkins says:

          kam you sound like you have been to a US Post Office distribution center recently … appalling sign of demise of US society …

      • Harrold says:

        @Phoenix_Ikki’s emotionally charged response cries out as classic cognitive dissonance. That means something struck a nerve, and he knows he “got caught”.

        Nobody singled him out. Nobody here has a clue what he does. But he has a guilty conscience that makes him lash out at strangers on the internet. My guess is the folks who are complaining the loudest moved far away from their office, and are now up sh1t’s creek without a paddle. It was a foolish mistake to think pandemic work arounds would last forever. Bosses gonna boss — it’s what they’re paid to do!

      • intosh says:

        I would argue that you could have more pretend-work in the office in some cases. WFH, you are actually compelled to consistently deliver something tangible to show that you did some work. Whereas in the office, you could be having more BS update meetings and brainstorming sessions that fill up your schedule but that actually deliver nothing tangible — it’s often enough that the boss sees you “busy” in those meetings. When WFH, it’s harder to keep the appearance of being busy.

      • Shiloh1 says:

        WFHers miss out on the Office Karens, the Me Too phantom &ss grab accusations and The High Priestesses Of HR Corporate PC Culture.

        Or in gentler times blowing off every Monday morning, “How ‘bout doze Bears?!!!”

    • Old School says:

      People working in the factory are what is important today. Cutting office staff or putting on hiring freeze is slowing down investing in your future. Where is the Tesla truck? Why slow down your investment in the future unless you think you might not have the cash flow to fast track development.

    • Jak Siemasz says:

      Yeah pretend work my ass……At home I’m not bothered by Larry every 30 minutes who comes strolling into my office to BS. I avoid the BS meetings. I don’t’ spend 2 hours in traffic every day and instead ending up spending most of those 2 hours working….If you’re a screw-off while working at home, you’re a screw-off in the office. Pretend work my ass!

    • Nick says:

      Wow what an ignorant comment and complete white washing of how businesses are truly run in modern America. Those “office” people make sure the wrench turners are happy, healthy, and efficient. From managing workplace injuries, to payroll, to staffing, to hiring and firing. You really have zero clue as to what it takes to run a multibillion dollar manufacturing plant let alone how to actually keep one running. You’ve probably never worked on a production floor and dealt with all the nuances and issues that come up even in highly automated manufacturing processes. Just the government regulations and OSHA compliance is massive. You must be a boomer who thinks “office” people are cute pretty females in pencil skirts ala 1950’s fetching coffee.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Good comment Nick:
        Just exactly like the generals/admirals ”fighting the last war.”’
        And, to be sure and ”far shore” ALL of the folks who are doing the same thing,, as per your post, WILL absolutely ”harvest” the same thing…
        This is very very clear with the current situation in Europe,,, and, as such, it makes it very clear that the ”bosses” are lost in the last,,, ”whatever” instead of doing what is their REAL job…
        Really, HOW much does it take to get these old and older folks to at least try to FOCUS on NOW???

    • SomethingStinks says:

      Well if you are a “people person” who’s secretary takes the specs from the customers to the engineers, or a mumbling bean counter or a guy names Sameer then the Bobs gonna get ya. You need to be able to come to the office atleast 15 minutes late and “space out” for hours. If you do about 15 minutes of actual work / week producing TPS reports, you get promoted. :)

    • Ed says:

      Some of those “office workers” design Teslas!

  7. Rollingstone says:

    I’m more productive WFH as there is simply less time spent on commuting. My equipment setup at home is better than the office as well. Peace and quiet. Having said that, good things happen when collaborating in person. No amount of technology can replace those unplanned interactions and conversations. Serendipity.

    • Ryan S says:

      I think it depends on the nature of the work and readily believe you’re more productive at home. WFH is not pretend work, but there needs to be objective measures of what the employee is accomplishing. Jobs involving extensive writing lend themselves to WFH because of the limited distractions from co-workers.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Agree with both your points RS:
        In my case, as mentioned above, there were very very clear ”measures” of what I was doing for my employers/clients,,, and the most important part of the WFH challenges IMHO is IF the ”so called managers”’ know WTF they are seeing.
        Sadly, in my very clear experience, many did not.
        And, FWIW, I was clearly blessed to be in a situation for the last few decades of my working years, that I could ( and did ) jump to another client/employer in a matter of days, or as soon as I chose…

    • andy says:

      Also, can’t dip in company’s ink when WFH.

  8. Nathan Dumbrowski says:

    I read this as a triple play of confusion like most things this EG does
    Play A) WFH is over for Tesla
    Play B) He has a bad feeling about the economy so he has to reduce staff
    Play C) Market is on fire and he needs to rapidly increase staff

    Evil genius is a diabetic who will certainly not eat fudge cake but will take two scoops of vanilla ice cream with cool hwhip

    • Flea says:

      Not about people he’s losing money on stock depreciation, when he got high and overpaid for twitter. Then Bill Gates shorted Tesla = the wolves are present he’s getting squeezed

      • phleep says:

        Musk’s contract to buy twitter is specifically enforceable in court. That means twitter can likely get a judgment ordering him to buy at $54.20. The circumstance changes so far are not, I think, material adverse changes giving him a loophole out. All this is based on an experienced M&A guy’s word I respect a lot. In our legal world he can blow smoke (certainly a specialty of his), and throw lots of money at the problem, but this little detour of his attention and fascinations (and bloviations, a fave word from Warren Harding) will be costly in any scenario for him. This may be a background to his outbursts and bad feelings.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      Can’t wait to see Elon stringing wire for the grid. Got a ‘bad feeling’ on that one.

  9. Buddaman says:

    I’ve worked at home for over 20 years. I like it now as retirement is pretty close, but highly regret doing it during my prime. Everyone in their 20s through 40s should be in an office to interact, network, socialize and get out of the house. I can’t tell you how many lunches I ate alone in my kitchen or at strip malls close by. You’ll have plenty of time home alone when you’re old and nobody wants to socialize with you, don’t waste hours and hours at home while you’re young if you have the option to work with others in an office.

    • DocMo says:

      That’s a great and wise point. I suspect friends and family connection would be a moderator for WFH satisfaction.

    • Whatsmynameagain says:

      It’s a great point. There are other ways, although in this age it’s much more difficult to find community outside of work, a big problem.

      My partner and I moved out of state during the pandemic and, through our dog, ended up meeting a lot of people who became close friends. We got out daily for fresh air with these people and ended up hosting outdoor picnics, going out to lunch and dinner with them, and created a little community. The company later reneged on assurances that I’d be able to continue working remotely and so we had to move back to the big city. Even though I’d lived here for a decade before the pandemic, I have almost no community here, everything has to be planned so far in advance, and people we meet at places like the dog park feel more like acquaintances than true friends.

      Community is super important and the office can help create one, but it’s also not necessary if you can find it elsewhere. WFH actually allowed me to find community in a way that office work does not.

    • Michael Fiorillo says:

      Yes, it seems that working from home could have negative professional consequences for younger workers, since they’re not just missing out on interoffice bs, but networking, mentoring, and the stimulation that comes from interacting with other skilled, intelligent people.

      • Denise says:

        The younger generation works, thinks and socializes differently than there parents. Her company has gone through a very large merger. They went from a three building campus to just one. Lot’s of companies have invested in “hotel” type office designs with just one day or two day a week collaborations by group. Sometimes these get togethers are so senior management can feel important. They are more productive at home ,( MS Teams rules).

        My suspicion is that musk is a lot of hot air. He does not have the space to house his “office workers” especially after his move to Texas. And your young dual income couples are just going to say stuff it. These families have lots on their plates and will take their talents to companies that recognize their contributions. I suspect he was already having push back on Texas with their attitude towards women reproductive rights, gun culture and high real estate taxes. It’s hot, polluted and unruly. Never mind treeless.

        • SocalJohn says:

          Yup. I am very concerned about the new way that people interact, with virtually complete dependence on the internet. I use the internet extensively and I completely appreciate its value, but I don’t think we should be so dependent upon it, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as social interaction. In many ways this whole thing is an experiment, and we still don’t know the outcome.

        • Anthony A. says:

          Treeless? I’m north of Houston, Texas and surrounded by trees. I can’t cut them down fast enough they grow so fast here.

          That’s why they named our area The Woodlands. You apparently need to expand you knowledge base!

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Denise,

          “Never mind treeless.”

          Misconception here. Texas being VERY BIG, there are vast areas with LOTS of trees, including around Austin where Tesla’s plant is.

        • Halibut says:

          Texas is a really BIG state. They have practically anything you can imagine, geographically speaking and otherwise. Of course, as you mentioned, they do have very strong beliefs about protecting their families from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

        • Nick says:

          Exactly!! Texas is no place for liberals. Unfortunately, people like you are killing the state.And you must have never met many Texas women if you at think many let men walk all over them lol.

        • 728huey says:

          Nick,

          Actually it’s all the rabid gun-toting conservatives who are literally killing the state, especially those allowing young teenagers to buy war weapons to annihilateyoung school children and not fixing the electric grid in the face of extreme weather events due to climate change.

    • Jon says:

      Truly a great advise and I second you .

  10. Tom H says:

    I’ve worked for people like Musk, put my heart and soul into 2 startups on a much smaller scale, but successful in their own right. The only true reward was the experience, which led to my ability to earn much better compensation now, later in my career, and I will never commute again.

  11. Finster says:

    Brilliant surmise, Wolf.

    Musk is no dumdum … this way he encourages some self selection.

    • Mike G says:

      It’s usually the brightest with the most options who head out the door when managers start slinging abuse, threats and ultimatums. What you end up with are the corporate-politicians who are good at appearing to be busy. The road to mediocrity.
      Especially when the stock isn’t rising anymore.

  12. SpencerG says:

    “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

    ROFL… I wonder how many other CEOs read that and only could WISH that they had the gonads to send that message to their people publicly!

    • Jon W says:

      It’s his company. If he knows they’re not working then he has either a rubbish hiring policy, or extremely poor management, and should fix those problems first.

      A grown up leader who took actual responsibility would give some tangible reasons they want people back in the office. Or even just be big enough to say they want to do it that way and that’s the end of it. But how he is going about it saying he has to do it because the people he hired are useless is extremely childish.

  13. Franz Beckenbauer says:

    And if I knew my company was going down, I’d buy another one.

    • Harry Houndstooth says:

      Ha Ha Ha
      Great Comment

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Harry,

        Franz Beckenbauer’s comment was hilarious, but also totally silly, ridiculous actually. The stock may/will be going down (as in going a lot lower), but the “company” isn’t “going down.” Tesla sits on $18 billion in cash and has relatively little debt. And it’s profitable. In 2021, it made $5.5 billion in net income. In Q1 2022, it made another $3.3 billion in net income.

        • Harry Houndstooth says:

          All I can say is I am glad Elon Musk is leading us into the future. But, in the stock market, the sizzle is always better than the steak. Warren Buffet noted that in the short term, the stock market is a voting machine, but in the long term, it is a weighing machine. Now that Tesla has earnings there is a handle to weigh it against other investments, especially other vehicle manufacturers. I suspect Elon Musk realizes TSLA has seen it’s peak market cap. Hence Twitter.

          The reason I will never match Elon Musk in contributing to our society was revealed in an interview discussing Space X… when looking for a chief engineer he noted that since he couldn’t get one of the very best he said settling for mediocrity would ensure failure so he took the job himself. He later admitted that the first three launches could have been better, but he learned from his mistakes.

          I would never take that much time away from my family. But all of us are better off that he made the sacrifice of sleep and family.

        • LK says:

          What planet are you living on? All of us are better off? Are you fucking kidding me?

          Spend like half a second Googling up critiques of Musk, his promises, and his practices, his hot air and times he’s been shown to be a fool. His Las Vegas tunnel is worse on all performance metrics compared to any other form of public transit. The minute there is an emergency, god help the people that depended on Musk’s vision of the future to look out for them.

        • Shiloh1 says:

          What happens if the ‘green’ subsidies go away?

  14. John Apostolatos says:

    If it hadn’t been for what Jerome and his minions did, none of these companies would be worth trillions and Elon would never have become the richest man in the world. The proof is in the P/E ratio.

    While he has been a great industrialist and visionary, his wealth got to where it is because of the transfer of wealth from savers, pension funds, and the inflation that is eating the bottom 50% alive.

    • Jpollard says:

      TSLA , for much of its existence existed due to the government subsidies . TSLA had the EV luxury market basically to itself market By the end of next year every auto company will be offering EVs .
      TSLA is much more of a Wall ST story than an auto maker. Few would care about TSLA if it were not for its vastly overpriced stock
      Within two years Wall St will price TSLA as just another luxury auto maker – like BMW with a similar market cap.

      • Shiloh1 says:

        The government should have subsidized production of Schwinn Varsities 50 years ago.

  15. azani says:

    No issues with Musk and how he wants to run his company. People working at Tesla who wish to WFH can move to another employer who offers that option.

  16. Steve Butcher says:

    WFH is the biggest opportunity on a plate to finally rejuvenate the country. For decades and decades, people looking for work have migrated from all the towns into the big cities, which have become hugely overcrowded and expensive, with people spending hours of the day commuting from further and further away on crowded transport into the same few square miles of offices. People complain about how towns are now empty, rundown, and lifeless and how overcrowded the cities are which don’t have enough essential services to cater to the ever-increasing density of housing. WFH has the potential to regenerate these towns, let’s build them up as Super Hubs. Lace them with highly connected super speed reliable internet and encourage remote workers to relocate to them, they will bring money back into the towns, children back into the schools, and rebuild thriving communities. The mass migration from cities back to towns should be embraced as the current model has reached breaking point, how many people spend 2-4 hours every day wasted on an expensive, pointless commute. We should embrace WFH and rebuild our rural communities, heck let’s bring the work to the people and not the people to the work.

    • Kenny Logouts says:

      Everyone thinks WFH is awesome. More productive. Fine.

      But the employer is the one paying the bills. If they want you back, despite lower productivity, that’s their call.

      WFH is great for employees. Freedom. Autonomy.

      But you can’t call all the shots.

      Good on Musk for telling employees what the deal is… next they’ll be demanding 8 weeks holiday.
      Then maternity leave for 2 years for men.
      Then who knows what else.

      Fine, but again it’s at the employers discretion.

      Years ago people had to choose to work for themselves for such privileges.

      When normally employees are getting such amazing deals vs those going it alone, you know it can’t last long.

      Workers calling the shots is clearly transitory.

      Once the FRB get inflation under control employees will be glad to even have a job!

      • Cynical Engineer says:

        You are correct that work location, and salary/benefits is at the employer’s discretion.

        However, working for that employer is at the employee’s discretion. If they aren’t being offered the work location or the compensation they desire, and somebody else will offer it, then they can switch jobs.

        Where the balance of power falls depends on supply vs demand. For the highly skilled they’ve been able to call the shots for a while now, which is reflected in their compensation levels.

        Prior to the epidemic, WFH was rare indeed, and was only made grudgingly available when there was no other alternative. What has changed now is that there are a large number of companies offering WFH.

        I think companies like Apple (and Tesla) will try and fight this trend, and I think they’re going to lose. Already, Apple has been forced to delay their return-to-office plans. Losing their top machine-learning guy was definitely a wake-up call for Apple.

        • Kenny Logouts says:

          I wonder how long that person would’ve stayed at Apple any way.

          Did they really swap jobs over WFH?

          Do ‘top people’ really give their best in isolation and leading creativity and innovation while interacting through screens?

        • sc7 says:

          @Kenny

          Yes, they do. There is nothing about an office setting that inherently makes a knowledge worker produce better results. More personal time without a commute means a happier employee.

          As one example, software developers can flourish in the comfort of their own space and think very creatively. Their colleagues are only a Slack away to chat.

          Hard to fathom if you’ve been working in offices since the 1980s, not as much if you’re under 40.

    • Dave says:

      Steve,
      A good take on the benefits that could be associated with WFH. I have family who chose a mountainous region of the country to live due to being WFH, avid hikers and skiers. I will add it reduces overhead costs for the employer as well……think rent, electricity, water/sewer, etc. The employee now pays for the extra electric, water, sewer etc.(shifting costs).

      I do envy their opportunity to do this (I am an ICU nurse, no remote for me!) but I would be nervous of the trend reversing as well. You could get caught with your pants down.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      WFH isn’t going to noticeably reduce congestion in larger cities.

      US population has increased about 50% since my family first moved back to the US in 1975. Most of this population increase is concentrated in 20 to 30 metro areas. Purportedly, 37 metro areas with population of 2MM+.

      There is a good reason people left much of rural America. Economics was part of it but I have the sneaking suspicion that most of them are clamoring to move back to where they came from because the places “suck”. They may move back out of economic necessity but that’s a different consideration entirely.

      OTOH, I can see movement to smaller towns and cities that are “nice” but were already more expensive.

      There are few undiscovered “nice” places in the internet age.

      • Einhal says:

        Depends what your values are. Some of us who are white Protestants prefer to live among our own with people who share our heritages and values. Rural America is where you’ll find that.

        • Augustus Frost says:

          I too prefer to live in the cultural environment you describe. I still don’t want to live in a cultural wasteland.

          That this choice must be made is more evidence the country is falling apart. It shouldn’t have to be an “either” versus an “or”. This includes metro ATL where I live and where I avoid over half of it geographically.

        • Apple says:

          What an ignorant post.

        • Einhal says:

          I love ad hominems!

        • MachoMansSoftSide says:

          To Einhal and Apple,

          Apple, I’m afraid here your post on Einhal shows your ignorance. I live in a very diverse community (Jamaicans, Vietnamese, Thai, African-Americans, Colombians, you can go…). We have small geographic pockets for each of these nationalities. It’s a simple fact (that most cannot simply understand) that similar people congregate together — hence, these things called “countries”. To further the point, I had a discussion with an older gentleman about life “back then” and race relations. He spoke about a Black woman, on her reflections AFTER segregation, that what she missed was that we all “knew where our people were.” As for my of my intellectual-yet-idiot friends and former (Ivy league/Brainwashing U) classmates that spread the diversity gospel, none of them match my racial spectrum of friends (and most married the same race — I did not). But, I’m the one proclaiming that I LOVE the differences between other cultures preferring not to homogenize the world into a cultureless cesspool.

        • Apple says:

          I feel stupider for having read your reply NachoMan

        • NBay says:

          Einhal.

          Why do you guys have to spend so much on missionaries, lobbyists, and other proselytizers?

          Dick Gregory said if you have a really great satisfying lifestyle and world view going, you don’t have to sell (or force it) it onto other people, they will steal it from you.

          That seems self evident to me.

          Serious question.
          Thank you.

        • TheAltonRoute says:

          The dominant view of the world that we get here in the US is that of the white cosmopolitan liberal. I suppose a strong enough reaction to the ruling elite might be enough to challenge or even shatter that view.

        • NBay says:

          Einhal can’t speak for himself so he gets you? Whatever….

          So Einhal and his “people” are sort of like modern day “Crusaders”, then?

          Btw, I was raised more rural than most here, I rode the bus 12 mi to school…one of the shortest, only two more pick-ups after me….bus was full. Some kids rode 40 mi.
          I could shoot my old man’s Garand out my bedroom window on rainy days and down our target range.

          PS; I don’t want to be saved from whatever it is he is fighting against, as I’m not really sure who the “enemy” is.

      • QQQBall says:

        @Augustus Frost WFH most certainly will change demographics and migration patterns. I have a buddy who drove an hour extra every day commuting youngest to day care and another hour for commute to and from work. As a family of 4 they paid $2,500 for 2Br apt rent. They saved for a downpayment, but home prices appreciated faster than they could save. They moved from SoCal to GA; bother parents kept same jobs and Socal pay scale and last we talked, they were buying a big home on acreage and their PI payment would be $700 a month. They can easily live on either the wife’s or husband’s salary alone and much easier while owning rather than renting with no commutes. Might be an extreme example but WFH is going to change alot.

    • 728huey says:

      BTW, doesn’t Elon Musk own Starlink? That newfangled satellite Internet service? Instead of demanding his non-factory workers return immediately to the office, why doesn’t he leverage his satellite ISP to his workers and use it as a selling point for broadband everywhere?

  17. amigauser says:

    IF your job can be done at a distance, it CAN and will eventually be done abroad, the cost savings in wages, etc are just too great to pass up.
    What happened to blue collar America is now about to happen to the knowledge workers, you are about to be shafted, and the politicians will laugh at you, whilst they cash their speaking fees.

    • Nate says:

      Good point altho there are time zone differences that have to be dealt with in many of the overseas scenarios. Not as easy to overcome as they might seem, altho on the nearside of the Atlantic it’s not as bad.

      • Kenny Logouts says:

        In my last job we had an office in USA and one in Aus, and we were UK based.
        That was 15 years ago.

        We made it work, and were even syncing HD video shoots back to the UK for editing, while also often doing video linkup todo meetings/filming briefing etc.

        None of this is new.

        I completely agree that if you think you can WFH full time, then your job is a global job… so good luck with that in the coming decade!

        The real value then comes back to being local, available, dependable, a known trusted face.
        Actual tangible workforce/resource.

      • Anthony A. says:

        One of my retired friends has a son that works for Dell in Round Rock, Texas. His son is a Director and in charge of some parts of the server business software development.

        His primary work development “Team” is in India. Communication is not that much of a problem with video conferencing. Occasionally, he travels to India for a team meeting.

        WFH, India style.

        • ru82 says:

          Not sure why they just don’t move his job to India too? Why pay more for someone in the U.S. if all the work can be done in India.

          The bean counters are not doing their job.

    • Augustus Frost says:

      When the upcoming major bear market is more mature, the economy will miraculously find a way to eliminate millions of jobs entirely.

      No need to offshore or automate what was never necessary in the first place.

      • Anthony A. says:

        I wonder if this (Tweeting Pink Sheets) will become a new feature of Twitter once Musk buys and overhauls it?

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      “IF your job can be done at a distance, it CAN and will eventually be done abroad, the cost savings in wages, etc are just too great to pass up.”

      Yup, that’s what I have been saying. The company that I work for has been out sourcing whatever they can. Manufacturing to China, software to India. In fact, just yesterday I had a 7am conference call with a couple engineers in India.

      • SocalJohn says:

        As some here have suggested, today’s WFH employees could turn out to be guinea pigs for tomorrow’s jobs in India. That hadn’t occurred to me. Yet another reason for employees to advocate in-person collaboration and strong teamwork. It would be hard or impossible for the bean counters to successfully offshore the collective value of a team that works well together, and the value of this is understood by competent leaders, especially in industries that depend on complex engineering and science. Tech work that isn’t at that level may be vulnerable, however, no matter what the employees do.

        • Cynical Engineer says:

          This fear is based on the myth that there are hordes of skilled people desperate for jobs in India. The reality is more complex:

          There’s a tremendous variation in English fluency. If you think understanding a thick Indian accent is hard, trying do it over a low-bandwidth video conference link.

          India has a systemic problem with academic cheating and corruption. A shocking percentage of Indian grads never got around to learning the material they hold a degree in. A lot of the currently unemployed in India right now are simply incompetent.

          There are a lot of very smart people in India, but very few of them are sitting around unemployed. Most of them are working at steadily increasing wages as companies poach talent from each other, just like everywhere else. The big dogs in India (TCS, Wipro, Tech Mehindra, etc) have massive problems with employee retention.

          The company I currently work for opened an office in India with plans to have 100 people in that office by the end of last year. They managed to hire 5. We hired more people in the United States that year.

          The other hotspot for offshore hiring has been Eastern Europe. I know of at least two companies that have had their technical teams crippled by the war in the Ukraine, and Russia’s current expansionism has everybody in that area on edge.

        • SocalJohn says:

          CE, thanks for your input, sounds like you are on the front lines for this. And it sounds like the threat may not be as large as some think, which would be good news of course.

        • Halibut says:

          Some of the best software developers I’ve ever known were from India. Heck, some of the best *people* I have known were from India.

        • billytrip says:

          I am a retired (about 5 years ago) software engineer. I worked at a company that tried to outsource software development work to India. The thinking was “at 10% cost of labor they don’t have to produce much for it to work out”.

          There were about 10 teams formed in Bangalore. I will cut to the ending, only one of these teams could produce work worth their price even at 10% wages. The VP who was brought in to oversee this change was fired. The program was 90% dismantled.

          Here is the problem. Most of the people in India were simply not skilled software engineers. They could not complete the most routine tasks we did onshore without scads of drama and rework. Communication was tedious and error prone and their working hours did not overlap ours making all communications difficult. When the work your team does causes the on-shore workers to waste tens of hours debugging and testing, it is not a financial win.

          The idea that all work can be shipped to where-ever is apparently pretty widely held, but I can assure you it is not as easy as all that.

          A new owner of the company did a better job of outsourcing and had moderately better success. But it is not a slam dunk process.

      • Harry Houndstooth says:

        Makes sense.

    • Steve Butcher says:

      For years a lot of roles in global companies have been priced out. The cost of hiring in cities like New York and London are incredibly high as you have extremly high outgoings for office space and you have to compensate employees for the very high cost of living in the city. If people can work from the small towns then that should significantly lower the employment cost and who knows – maybe start to become more competitive again.

  18. Djreef says:

    “And when he threatened to come out with a pickup that might drain the lifeblood out of companies that had gotten dependent on their fat-margin pickups, such as Ford, they all suddenly got religion.”

    Rivian beat them to it.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Ford was a big early investor in Rivian (along with Amazon and others) and it was thought that Ford’s own pickups would be based on the Rivian platform, but then Ford decided to develop its own platform and ditched the Rivian platform, and now it’s ditching its Rivian shares, in huge increments.

      • Dan Romig says:

        Yesterday’s Business Section of my local paper has a story from the AP:
        ‘Ford adds jobs for EV work. The company will invest $3.7B in three states.’

        ” A factory in Avon Lake, Ohio, near Cleveland, will be expanded so it can build an unidentified new electric commercial vehicle, with 1,800 new jobs.” Ford wouldn’t give details about what they will build there. I would bet delivery vans, eh.

        Also, the report says, “A factory in the Detroit suburb of Wayne that now builds the Ranger midsize pickup will see investment and jobs to make a new Ranger.”

        An EV sized Ranger would sell a lot of trucks I would think.

        And in the report, “Ford’s Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn will see investment and jobs so it can build more F-150 Lightning electric pickups to meet unexpectedly high demand.”

        Wolf, I did take your advice and looked at the ‘Tesla Model 3 Performance’ statistics and reviews. It is a sleek and quick machine.

        The thing that got my attention was how much battery range is taken to really drive it hard for any length of time or distance. But to blast it for a few miles at a time, it is impressive in what it can do.

    • BobC says:

      Rivian? The company that built 2,500 vehicles in Q1 2022? They’ve accomplished very little. On the other hand, the reviews for the Ford Lightning are extremely positive. Ford will make the Cybertruck a failure.

  19. Brant Lee says:

    Let’s see, the richest man in the world with factories in the U.S. and factories in China. Are spoiled American workers to be better tolerated than the Chinese? HELL no, it’s not fair unless all employees get the same treatment.

    It didn’t take long for the Musk man to get used to and like the Communist style of things. He’s lived three different cultures, South African, American, and Chinese. Communist is the best.

    • Anthony A. says:

      “Communist is the best.”

      Especially if you are in charge!

    • Flea says:

      You should move there

      • Brant Lee says:

        Shut up. Commie is best to pound the labor down to size. Or maybe it was better in the South African old days. Only Musk could know.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Brant Lee,

      You got this mixed up. This is about salaried staff and management that work from home, not factory workers. Musk said specifically that he would increase the headcount of factory workers.

    • You can take the boy out of Apartheid, but you can’t take Apartheid out of the boy..

      • Augustus Frost says:

        Utter nonsense.

        What exactly does Musk’s purported statement have to do with apartheid?

        As an elementary student, I lived in South Africa in the 70’s when it was policy. Did you?

        Plenty of people lived under the regime who didn’t and don’t support it.

        OTOH, the sentiments from which you paraphrased your post are usually entirely correct.

  20. Ben Sargent says:

    Love this post and the different opinions. If Musk thought that his business was benefitting from WFH he would embrace and encourage the transition. I think he is seeing a deterioration of the business results and like Wolf says I would never underestimate this man.
    Musk owns the majority shares of his company and has the ability to raise cash generate demand and create thousands of jobs in an industry that has suffered for decades at least in the USA.
    His factories in China I think are producing cars mostly sold to Chinese. Competing in China for China market share is not easily done.
    I have no idea what the future stock value of Tesla is nor does the markets but the current stock price was 10 percent below what that stock price was the day before.
    Many companies need the interaction and spontaneous idea generation for productivity increases that come from an office environment. Other jobs within the same company can be done more efficiently remotely including WFH.
    The technology and development towards that model has been going on for a couple of decades and will continue to evolve. At the same time communicating is jut as important and face to face communication is very effective.
    Both have a place in some organizations.

    • perpetual perp says:

      Just a couple observations. The dollar is in fact getting stronger vs foreign currencies. Not weaker. Raising the interest rates is probably part of the attraction. Musk may own the biggest slug of stock, but it is far from a majority share. About 16%, I believe.

    • phleep says:

      Musk’s tough-guy and hasty-social-media- rager tone loses the thoughtfulness and nuance. WFH is not a binary, but all kinds of things, even within TSLA. I’m surprised Musk doesn’t look at it in a nuanced engineer-manager way: which things need better monitoring? it can be seen as a technical problem. That’s the whole point.

      My determination as an employee (teaching law) has been to always stay proactive and constantly upgrade my performance face-to-face and online. I am not one to stand around and endlessly BS. I just show up and do my best work, every single work day (absent 5 total absent days) for 37 years now. I find free-riders disgusting. But I just try to diminish the opportunities for it.

      • Harvey Mushman says:

        “I just show up and do my best work, every single work day (absent 5 total absent days) for 37 years now.”

        Holy smokes!
        When I was a freshman in high school I got straight As and had perfect attendance. That was when I peaked, Lol!!! Never repeated that again.

        • Petunia says:

          I got straight A’s too and used every single one of my available absences.

      • Apple says:

        You should put that on your tombstone.

        Here Lies A
        Loyal Corporate Employee
        Absent 5 Total Days

  21. EV Guy says:

    Musk doesn’t think all this up on his own, but he maintains a genius profile. Fun for him and good for business.

    Tesla advisors told Musk that in unsettled economic times, Mr Market wants to see headcount reductions. So Tesla did it. They seem to have picked the white collars. Those are the ones who are easy to “fire” on paper and rehire the next day, to send to another division, etc. So not clear if 10% will really leave. But a lot more than 10% will be scared, and Mr Market loves that!!!! Tesla loves Mr Market too, b/c his cooperation will get Tesla to Mars. Get it?

    Tesla also wanted to reassure the market that they are not “firing” the blue collars who lift barge and tote bale, so all those EV orders will be fulfilled, so Musk made a point of clarifying no blue collar layoffs, in fact they will hire!

    Tesla has a lot of novice investors and when they read Elon’s twitters they panicked and sold. Learning opportunity! Since this kind of “market gyration” will go on to happen again and again. Another day in the life of Mr Market.

    If you don’t like what you consider to be Musk’s antics, and still want to be a capitalist, be my guest place your full faith and credence in other lions on the current stage; Jamie Di, The Zuck, Mary Bara, ad inf. They are different and will intelligently, honestly, and compassionately lead your through these hard times. Not.

    • BenX says:

      Yes – this isn’t about WFH – that’s just an excuse to fire 10% of his top earners.

  22. Max Power says:

    Musk is freaking out because Tesla is toast. Two reasons for this:

    1. Other OEMs’ very-first attempts at cars made on electric platforms built from the ground-up have turned out to be excellent vehicles. Think Hyundai Ionic/Kia EV6 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Maybe not quite equivalent to Tesla in some respects, but really, really close. Given how well those OEMs executed their first iteration, then the upcoming second iteration of said vehicles will undoubtedly match Tesla.

    2. Ford beat Tesla to the punch in the most important segment in the US – mass-market trucks. The highly-reviewed F-150 Lightning is on its way to customers while the strange-looking Cybertruck is nowhere to be seen.

    So OK, Tesla might not exactly be “toast”, but it’s well on its well way to becoming just another OEM… not one which, as Wolf likes to describe, “walks on water”. Musk obviously knows this and these outbursts and distractions (as in buying Twitter) are manifestations of the magic fading away and the guy is trying to make up for the lost magic with schemes that appear crazier and crazier.

    • andy says:

      Nailed it. Ford Mach-E btw looks great. Makes me want to buy Ford stock (when it hits $10).

      • Michael Fiorillo says:

        I know it’s irrelevant to the topic at hand, but isn’t there more than a bit of contradiction (as in contrary to the laws of thermodynamics) in building electric F-150’s under the auspices of what we’re told is an environmentally benign technology?

        • Anthony A. says:

          People buy F150’s, lots if them, and at high prices. That’s the reason to continue to build them.

        • andy says:

          Mich-E is more like small crossover SUV. Not a Forf fan, but it looks great. They did the truck for same reason Hurley-Davidson did the electric bike I think.

    • Massbytes says:

      The problem is Tesla is making millions of them and the others are in the low thousands of production. Will it change, of course, but by then where will Tesla be? Not to mention, that at least Ford, have 132 billion or so in debt and Tesla has none. Not to mention that Tesla is and probably will be for some time more efficient and make more money per vehicle than the current OEMs.

      • Max Power says:

        Ummm… no. Ford has seen huge demand for the Mach-E and is planning to make them in the tens of thousands, and produce the F-150 Lightning in the hundreds of thousands. It quickly filled up all the reservations the entire 200,000 initial production run of the F-150.

        One of Ford’s biggest challenges, one which Tesla doesn’t face, is how to deal with its network of franchised dealers, some of which have been applying crazy markups to Ford’s EVs. Yesterday, Ford’s CEO announced that the company intends to sell all EVs direct to consumer, at fixed prices. How that’s gonna play out is difficult to see at the moment though given the stealerships’ state government lobbying prowess.

        • Massbytes says:

          Yes, they are planning to. All of them are planning to make tens of thousands. Lets see when they are successful at it. Tesla is there today and that was before Giga-Texas and Giga-Berlin were built. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud Ford and hope for their success. But after the waiting lists comes production.

  23. the best part was: you may wfh all you want but must show up at the office 40 hrs/week minimum. hahaha and also why I have been self-employed for 40 years.

    • Enlightened Libertarian says:

      WFH in/for your own business is a great way to go. Working for yourself means you get to keep all the profits. Great motivator.
      Worked great for me [and my wife – although we had some “office debates” over who was in charge].
      It seems to work fine for the Wolf Man too?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        Enlightened Libertarian,

        OK, now you gave me an opportunity to weigh in.

        I’ve been WFH for many years, and it has been great, and I’m a big fan of it. But you need to be motivated, have the right place to work, and not get constantly interrupted. It helps that I own the shop and love what I’m doing. So under many conditions, WFH is superior and more productive than going to the office.

        There are problems, however. For example, I now sleep and eat at the office, so to speak. Work can be all-consuming, especially if you love it, and working in an office gives you an opportunity to get away from your work for the evening, which would be a healthy thing to do – though many people will still work at home after they come back from the office.

        That said… in my younger years, I always wanted to but never got to work in a fancy office in some glitzy high-rise with a name on top that everyone in the world recognized and oohed-and-aahed over. I would have loved that, but that didn’t happen. Every job I had as an employee for a company was business in the trenches. For me it was just a basic office at companies no one outside the area had ever heard of, and I wasn’t surrounded by hundreds of smart and beautiful people my own age, but by a very mixed bag of mostly great people.

        I definitely see why it can be a very rewarding experience for people in their 20s and 30s, especially when they’re still learning the ropes, to work in a nice office for a big-name company where they can interact with and learn from lots of other smart people.

        Obviously, you can do similar things by WFH and using video meetings, occasional in-office meetings, etc., but it’s not quite the same thing as being in an office all day every day.

        But now I don’t ever want to work in an office again, no matter how glitzy.

  24. unamused says:

    Hmmm. I’ve been pretending to work from home sixty to eighty hours a week. So have my partners. And so has our only actual employee, a counting mutant, er, accountant. I won’t let them burn out but they do get pretty crispy around the edges sometimes. We don’t have ten to decimate and would have to do some hiring or bring on more partners to get enough to dump one.

    Musk seems to have a genius for making lots and lots of bad hires, letting his people get out of control, and failing to provide leadership. He seems to have no real idea if his managers are actually managing and doesn’t know how to find out.

    If you want to get to the top, be prepared to kiss a lot of the bottom. It’s all about generating engagement. You have to get your people to make YOUR mission THEIR mission. My people are inspired to happily work their asses off for me. Real football players are inspired to sacrifice their bodies. A great battlefield commander inspires his soldiers to die for him. Good parents make sacrifices for their children. Many of WRs commenters are inspired to provide fine insights for him, and they’ll even pay for the privilege.

    That’s leadership.

    Musk doesn’t have it. He does preen well though. It’s made him a lot of money and gets his name in the papers. Maybe that’s enough for him. It would not be enough for me.

    His workers will return to the office. They need the money.

    Love is not a rational calculation. It’s emotional. It is transcendent. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

    Just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

    • DocMo says:

      Great comment and so true. Musk’s leadership ends when Musk’s presence ends; there is no internalization of his mission or values. Like Musk himself, the drive is the glitter, which in the end, is but tinkling brass.

    • VintageVNvet says:

      Seriously una,,, one of your best, in spite of the many many good ones:
      ”Love is not a rational calculation. It’s emotional. It is transcendent. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
      Thank you for the reminder(s)…
      From one who never believed until meeting THE ONE…

  25. Xaver says:

    That’s all possible. Maybe in addition Musk wanted to cut headcount, preparing for a sizeable loss in Q2. The remaining staff will have to work more of course.

    The Tesla saga feels like a coming Netflix series with 120 episodes.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      If Elon ‘collaborated’ with Elizabeth Holmes that would be quite a Netflix series!

  26. patrick says:

    comment from a vp-hr about musk’s 40 hour in the office or hit the road policy – ” If I was planning a lay off this would get a number of people to resign and no severance packages – very smart “

    • unamused says:

      The truly skilled will have better jobs waiting for them elsewhere. If he’s lucky he won’t lose the guy who has been keeping the shitshow together.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      patrick,

      Nah. Tesla has imposed real layoffs before, including in January 2019 (7% of its workforce) and in 2018 (9% of its workforce). They were standard cold layoffs where Tesla decided who exactly needed to go. There was nothing voluntary about it. Tesla knows how to do that. If Tesla wants to do actual layoffs, that’s how it would do it. There wasn’t a lot of severance. Some folks got as much as 2 months’ pay. For a company with an $800 billion market cap, that’s nothing.

      In a layoff, the company decides who needs to go. If what Musk said were a strategy to save a little bit on severance, the company would lose control as to who leaves. The good ones might leave because they have other options, and the unproductive ones might stay and start going to the office. And that’s a loss of control that Tesla would not likely accept, just to save a little bit of money on severance. If Tesla really wanted to lay off people, it would pick who exactly goes, call them into a meeting, lay them off on the spot, take their laptops, etc. That’s how it did it before.

      • JeffD says:

        “The good ones might leave because they have other options, and the unproductive ”

        Which will likely end up happening.

      • Shiloh1 says:

        About 20 years ago at Lucent in western Chicago burbs it was like an IQ test. The smart ones took the buy-out, the dumb ones stayed on.

  27. Sam says:

    I am still WFH and started two years ago. Yes, I much prefer It for a myriad of reasons. But even I admit from a business and productivity perspective, being in the office is superior. Innovation rarely happens when you’re alone in your fourth bedroom with no REAL collaboration with your coworkers. The people saying otherwise haven’t seen their companies data on the matter. I want to stay in my pajamas all day long just like the next guy so I get why WFHers are pushing back hard. But WFH is in your best interest, not the companies. With Elon setting the precedent, you’ll start seeing more big employers bring back workers in the fall, and by next year the vast majority of them will be back. Everyone is living in fantasyland saying they’ll quit before they go back to the office. 95%+ of them will change their tune when jobs become scarce and their only option is to come into the office or not be able to pay their mortgage.

    • MarkinSF says:

      +1

    • Apple says:

      I think some companies will take advantage of WFH and eliminate costly offices and use this savings to poach top employees from other companies.

      Most companies however, will be satisfied with mediocre employees and costly offices.

  28. Nick Kelly says:

    ‘He had a “super bad feeling” about the economy, he said, by way of reason for the decimation of the salaried staff.’

    So now would be a bad time to do a MAJOR acquisition.
    This Twitter deal is going to be a millstone around his neck.
    Probably part of the ‘super bad feeling’.

    There is a mistaken belief that he can escape with a billion dollar break fee. Not so. That would apply if the deal is nixed by externals, like regulators. If he decides not to proceed, Twitter can sue for specific performance at 54 $ a share. A large chunk of Tesla has been pledged to the banks so he could announce ‘funding secured’.

    • andy says:

      Offered $50 Billion (cash he does not have) not far from the top of the bubble. Could have easily waited 6 months for Twitter stock to hit $7, then offer $10.

      Musk will be selling his Tesla stock all the way back to $50.

    • phleep says:

      Musk is no genius at M&A, that much is plain. His forte is disruption, and being the playful willful whimsical dreamer-guy, but that can cut both ways. Especially as it frays and ages and (perhaps here) grows incoherent. We’ll see.

  29. JoshWx says:

    If Musk hadn’t made reference to the 10% layoffs and a “bad feeling” about the economy and simply relied on his anti-WFH sentiment to achieve that level of turnover, he would have looked like less of an asshole. Unfortunately he shot himself in the foot on this one. It will be interesting (assuming the Twitter acquisition comes to fruition) if he demands all his future Twitter employees come into the office 5x/week as well. I’m sure they’ll love that.

    The thing I love most about Musk is that it goes to show you can suffer from a complete and total lack of communication skills and still end up wildly successful in the corporate world. Grit, work ethic, and an extra-terrestrial level of scientific intelligence and vision apparently go a long way. As for empathy and emotional intelligence, evidently those are completely overrated. Or in Musks case, unequivocally irrelevant. Watch any of his podcasts with Rogan or Fridman and he’s cringeworthy beyond explanation. But kudos to him, he’s unfathomably more successful than I’ll ever be.

    • Harvey Mushman says:

      “But kudos to him, he’s unfathomably more successful than I’ll ever be.”

      Well it depends on how you define successful. At the end of the day, maybe you are more successful.

  30. Steve2wryt says:

    Wolf–thank you thank you thank you for using “decimate” correctly. It is rare.

    Before COVID my job was 100% in office (Permit tech at Building Dept.), during COVID, 100% WFH, now in office for most of us, some on hybrid. Our processes changed from paper submittals to digital by necessity. We are not going back to paper except a few project types that could be either digital or physical (fences, detached accessory structures). Most of our work is so collaborative that it makes much more sense for there to be a substantial presence in the office with at least four departments represented to take care of the few in-person stragglers in the community as part of the service we provide. But it’s so much easier to have a quick in person chat with someone about a problem than try figure out which of the myriad means of communication they can be reached. We will never go back full WFH unless it gets stupid again.

    Two of my children work completely remotely, were hired as such, and will remain that way. Data analytics for these organizations can be WFH without any trouble. Two other of my children work as cabinet maker and arborist. Duh.

    What I see is COVID has allowed everyone to begin to process how WFH/Office only/hybrid works for their organization. This will take some time though, and I totally agree that Musk is using this time to do more than evaluate. Crisis=opportunity.

  31. Yancey Ward says:

    If your job really can be done from home, then it can be done from Mumbai at less than half to a quarter of the cost to the company.

    • Will V says:

      Agree that work from home can lead to the job being shipped anywhere in the “modern globalized world”. There are currently 1.3 billion people in India and the median age is approximately 28. Their educational system is fairly good and the family hierarchy and social structure will continue allow for multigenerational living which puts them ahead of the millennials and generation Z as they can do “your” WFH job cheaper and spend less on housing and transportation but still enjoy what they feel is a good quality of life. Though maybe a point of controversy (and inappropriate) the “middle” class there can also utilize the caste system and “Dalits” to have workers for daily “tasks” such as cooking and cleaning at least for now. No need for the 3200 sqft home that cost 700-800K (or in California 3M) and 2 BMW’s with leases all while whining about how poor they are. The young in this country are screwed due to globalization and overflow “asset appreciation” and hence demanded my children work in “hands on fields” – which are tough to offshore for NOW. ( wait until robotics gets good enough, your dentist may be from and WORK from New Delhi doing that root canal).

      • andy says:

        Let’s see if robots can fold laundry first, before we do surgeries from Kolkata.

      • Vadim Q says:

        My God India is a corrupt decrepit hellhole. They have a huge problem with cheating and corruption in their education. Most graduates are incompetent and unusable. Those who are competent aren’t cheap anymore, because this idea has occurred to others before.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      About 20 years ago at Lucent in western Chicago burbs it was like an IQ test. The smart ones took the buy-out, the dumb ones stayed on.

    • Shiloh1 says:

      That’s the chance I’ll take until either I’m dead or the Cubs win the next 3 World Series, whichever comes first. I until then, the second greenest car if the one that doesn’t leave the garage. The greenest is the one never built. I’m already way ahead of Elon.

  32. KGC says:

    It’s interesting to note that while China has been mentioned the comments here predominantly look at this as an American issue, No one has mentioned Europe at all, and the memo was company wide. As much heartburn as this has caused here in the States, the uproar in Germany is much greater.

    The German trade unions are having a collective stroke. Since they are a major player in politics over there (much more than unions in the USA) and they outright own a portion of all the legacy auto industry, the arbitrary firing of 10% of a companies employees is an issue of national weight and will have political consequences.

    German (and all European) auto makers are very threatened by EVs. They carry the threat of a much smaller workforce, and the idea that EVs may actually require only 20% of the number of employees is terrifying, because they flat out cannot absorb job losses at that level. And since the pension funds for those others are funded by the ownership in those companies the loss of sales guarantees a loss of pensions.

    So here you have Elon walking into an already disrupted industry and telling his workforce that 10% can plan on leaving, and if he does hire it will be lower wage workers, and hinting that management is going to set all the conditions for employment; that’s a nightmare.

    I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the German Minister for the Economy’s office.

    • TheRealMRDyno says:

      I’d like to see some data on how an EV can be built with 20% of the workers required for ICE vehicles, specifically at final assembly plant. Motor = engine, inverter = transmission, battery = fuel tank, everything else pretty much the same.

      • Anthony A. says:

        Nobody ever talks about how labor and time intensive it is to build a battery pack with 9,000 separate batteries, all wired together and assembled into a housing with a dedicated cooling system and control electronics.

        Much more complex than a composite material or steel (coated internally) fuel tank bolted to the car subframe.

        • Apple says:

          Most of these facilities just assemble automobiles from parts shipped in, and don’t manufacture anything.

  33. Brent says:

    Legatus (Roman Legion Commander) Elon The Magnificent straightens out his Soldiers by Decimation. It is wonderful !!! Make Tesla Great Again !!!

    “The Roman Military Punishments” by John Beaver, 1725, hi-res scan on archive dot org, recent reprint on Amazon.

    -Castigation
    -Fustigation
    -Flagellation
    Natural Born Romans were encouraged with Vine Twigs, Green Card Holders were beaten with Cudgels.
    -Cutting of Thumbs (for unauthorized texting on the march, remembering that Varus lost his Legions in Teutoburg Forest because Centurions and Soldiers were constantly texting before being ambushed)
    -Taking away Military Belt with Girdle (ultimate non-physical humiliation).Pray do tell me how modern tech worker would look and live without iPhone ?
    -Marching among the Captives carrying Baggage
    -Drawing Blood…

    And much much more.I can’t believe how inventive Romans were.

    Today I will show solidarity with Tesla Legionnaires by duck-walking with a rifle on my shoulders screaming:
    “I don’t want no Teenage Queen
    I just want my M14”

    Please join me y’all ! Let our knees pop for the Noble Cause !

    • Xavier Caveat says:

      Biggus Laughus!

    • phleep says:

      Or it reminds of another twitler commanding the labor force to produce sufficient materials and munitions to conquer the world, even as his own grandiose in-all-directions-and-fronts territorial moves were buckling the whole picture.

      There aren’t enough billions in the granaries of Musk to stay with his diversion into TSLA (oh yeah, and fix the world’s speech complexities, right?), if current dynamics continue. He marched out into a wasteland, and this time, Mr Market didn’t follow. he walked out onto the water and could sink. OMG!

    • otishertz says:

      What?

  34. ooe says:

    You admitted nothing he says is true. What great company to work for (being sarodonic) to work for a liar.
    They should hold on and be fired or quit to another company. Thanks to the Biden Amdin, labor is tight so there are 1.9 jobs for every American.

  35. Marc D. says:

    I don’t drive an EV, but I have to admit, Musk has accomplished a lot. Not only with Tesla, but with SpaceX and now The Boring Company as well. Say what you will about him, but the guy’s a genius.

    • Bobber says:

      The people working for Musk are geniuses. Musk is a public relations professional.

      • VintageVNvet says:

        VERY kind of you Bbrr!!

        • COWG says:

          “ Say what you will about him, but the guy’s a genius.”

          No…

          He’s an opportunist…

          If you didn’t notice, most of what he does has/ had Government money/contracts paying the way…

          If he can’t get government money somehow, nothing he spouts happens…

      • Marc D. says:

        He’s doing pretty well for a public relations guy. I mean, three groundbreaking successful companies isn’t bad. NASA’s even using SpaceX to ferry astronauts and cargo up to the International Space Station.

    • Flea says:

      The boring machine was invented by government to build secret tunnels,without mining .Then handed to Musk after huge payoff to insiders ,that’s how money works for the Rich

      • Wolf Richter says:

        They’ve been boring tunnels with boring machines for many decades. There is nothing new there.

        • otishertz says:

          1. Electric car was first, before gas cars
          2. Tunnels are really old tech,
          3. Pneumatic tunnels happened in NYC in the 1800s
          4. Hyperloop is not even a loop
          5. Reusable rockets (or rocket parts) began with moon missions
          6. I can land a battery powered lipstick on a teacup with a game controller
          7. Spaceyx Ceo ShotWell says 30 minutes to go halfway across the world reusable electric rocket planes or some shit
          8. Electric planes!
          9. 400kw perr Kilogram
          10. My cars don’t catch on fire. People do.

  36. phleep says:

    I want to put Musk into the replicant test from Blade Runner.

    Wildly tangent in this context, but I suspect the sentiment of most male posters here to Musk’s tough-guy-as-face-of-robust-capitalism could be predicted by their answer to the question, “how do you feel about your father?”

    That recalls another Philip K. Dick masterpiece, “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.” There, a new disruptive interstellar industrialist (who starts showing up in off-worlders’ recreational drug trips) has weird whirling mechanical parts in its eyes.

    • phleep says:

      Another Musk coincidence? In “Three Stigmata,” one character is a person whose expensive intelligence enhancement procedure failed, and the person is regressing on the evolutionary scale. Such is risk and volatility.

    • OutsideTheBox says:

      To expand on your second paragraph:

      Libertarians have mommy issues.

      Fascists have daddy issues.

      People grow old, seldom wise.

  37. SOL says:

    After reading some of these comments it looks like some Wolf fanatics might also be sensitive WFH’ers. Triggered!

    • JoshWx says:

      I’m one of those “hybrid” workers who does a mix of both remote and in-office work, and TBH, I see the merits of both. Whatever works best for the employee in terms of productivity should be leveraged the most. I’ve seen plenty of 9-5’ers whose day of “productivity” includes about 10 coffee and shit breaks and the occasional email check. Conversely I know people “logged in” remotely and doing absolutely nothing relevant to work. Goes both ways.

      • Marc D. says:

        It does go both ways. But if Musk wants his white collar employees to be working at the office, that’s his prerogative. It’s his company.

  38. Khowdung Flunghi says:

    “That’s what I think Musk did here, genius manipulator that he is.”

    Yet another cunning stunt that smells of Musk!

  39. Just Saying says:

    Wolf, are you sure it was “Chief Evil Boss” and not “Chief Evil Overlord” (CEO)? ;p)

  40. DR DOOM says:

    WFH is old school not new school. The expansion of WFH due to the C19 debacle has yet to be ran through the rinse cycle of a recession or maybe two recessions. This inflation thingy is a wild card yet played on whether the Fed will fix it or the dreaded invisible hand of the market place does it. Eventually SWHTF and it may be extra runny. The Rube Goldberg type scheme of Elon the Magnifico f$&king with his work force delivered a new category of corporate structure. Cheif Evil Boss or the CEB. Magnifico is a dick and he loves f$&King with people. Magnifico may also have a goal to boot. That’s why he may be the CEB.

  41. unamused says:

    What labor shortages?

    In good times and bad, there is always a chorus of employers who claim they can’t find the employees they need. Sometimes that chorus is louder, sometimes softer, but it’s always there. One reason is that in a system as large and complex as the U.S. labor market there will always be pockets of bona fide labor shortages at any given time. But a more common reason is employers simply don’t want to raise wages high enough to attract workers. Employers post their too-low wages, can’t find workers to fill jobs at that pay level, and claim they’re facing a labor shortage. Given the ubiquity of this dynamic, I suggest that whenever anyone says, “I can’t find the workers I need,” she should really add, “at the wages I want to pay.”

    • FinTechie says:

      Astute observation and spot on!

    • otishertz says:

      Maybe the millions of reported job openings are all trying to hire that same one Ivy league systemically repressed unicorn with purple hair and loudly ambiguous sexuality that is in high demand and a bunch of people who make hiring decisions are looking for a friend that fits their indoctrination after four years of debt care in college and two years of forced masking and cooties.

      Something is so strange about the notoriously unreliable labor statistics. Too much signal to noise. Something else is going on here.

  42. Most of those Roman emperors were killed by their own army.

  43. gorbachev says:

    The thing about office workers is if your a lousy
    worker at the office you’ll be a lousy worker at home,

  44. Bead says:

    Wow, such heartfelt opinions you’d swear this was Amber & Johnny. Clearing out some dead wood can reduce costs and make room for eager and less entitled help.

  45. Does not Amazon routinely fire ten percent of its workforce?

    These are just tough guys to work for.

    Smart companies can steal their employees with remote work and so forth.

    As long as they can hire more people, why should they care?

    Smart companies that want to hire the best advertise WFH and get many resumes.

    Every company is different. Choose wisely or start your own.

  46. Gandalf says:

    Let me just put in a good word, once again, for Space X, another Musk project that Wolf once poo pooed as a minor project of no significance.

    Starlink has proved to be key in, of all places, the war in Ukraine, providing crucial Internet communications access to Ukraine after Russia crashed Ukraine’s country wide hardwired server modems with cyber hacking in the first moments of the war back on Feb.24.

    In response, Musk rushed in Starlink dish antennas to Ukraine for free. Space X engineers have so far been able to defeat all attampts by Russia to hack and jam their Starlink system in Ukraine, a feat that has gotten praise from US military officials and caught the attention of the Chinese military (destroying US military communications is a key component of China’s war gaming plans vs the US).

    All those drone directed hits on Russian forces by Ukrainian artillery, etc. all the constant streaming of videos of what is happening inside Ukraine, all of that are made possible by the unhacked and unjammed Starlink internet dish antennas inside Ukraine.

    The space faring part of Space X has also done well, saving NASA after Russia pulled out of the ISS, and providing very real, functional, and cheaper alternatives to the Boeing led consortium’s SLS rocket and Boeing’s Starliner, which are floundering around, way over budget and behind schedule.

    So whatever else you might think about Musk and Tesla (and clearly Musk has characteristics of a psychopathic egomaniac), hey, Space X is doing real good out there

    Kudos to Space X.

    • unamused says:

      When the US space program was privatized its mission changed.
      It used to be Keeping Up With the Russians, national pride, space exploration, and technical development for ICBMs.
      Now it’s just more corporate welfare.
      You can never have too many ways to feed the billionaire class.

      It’s still got the same whopping negative ROI, though. That hasn’t changed. If there was any profit in going into space, corporations would be investing in it. But there isn’t, so there aren’t, except to get federal contracts that magically go over budget and over schedule every time.

      I was impressed like everyone, when man began to fly,
      Out of earthly regions unto planets in the sky.
      With total media coverage we watched the heros land,
      As ceremoniously they disturbed the cosmic sand.

      In awe with admiration we listened to the talk.
      Such pride felt they, such joy to be upon the moon to walk.
      My romantic vision shattered when it was explained to me,
      That spacemen all wear diapers in which they -bleep- and -bleep-.

      • DawnsEarlyLight says:

        “The intergalactic laxative
        Will get you from here to Mars”

        D. Leitch

      • Gandalf says:

        unamused,

        You can be as cynical as you want about the concept of man in space or the race to the moon, etc., but there is absolutely 100% no doubt that the space program vastly accelerated a huge variety of technologies, from computer chips, orbital satellites for communications, military intelligence, astronomy/physics, weather, GPS, etc., etc.,
        Even MREs instead of canned C-rations, now standard in militaries around the world, owe their existence to the freeze dried food carried by the astronauts in their long missions to the moon.

        FYI, the Apollo astronauts didn’t wear diapers in their missions, which ranged from 6-12 days long. They pooped into bags which had to be collected and brought back and they peed into condom collectors which were then vented out into space.
        By the time of Skylab and the Space shuttle, NASA had figured out a space toilet. Science and technology march on.

        SpaceX’s signature achievement has been MARKEDLY LOWERING THE COST of sending something into space, by pioneering the technology of recoverable and reusable booster rockets.

        The Starlink system is another signature achievement, although it likely will cause problems with Earth based astronomy and increased space debris. It’s already a demonstrated game changer to previous military efforts to build a capability to destroy an enemy country’s satellite communications system. All those anti-satellite missile tests conducted by the US, Russia, China, and even India, are mostly useless now. There’s just too many small Starlink satellites that have to be destroyed. And, as shown in Ukraine Starlink is also resistant to jamming and cyberhacking.

        And yes, there is still lots of demand for sending stuff into space besides NASA, as more and more countries modernize and want their own communications satellites.

        So yeah, science and technology march on. From the computer/cellphone that you use, the interconnectivity of the worldwide web, the GPS system in your car or phone, even the food you eat, the cloths you wear, all of that nowadays has some link to some bit of space travel technology that made it possible for you to get it

        • unamused says:

          It burns a lot of cash, has a lousy ROI, made near-Earth orbit into a junkyard, and channeled a lot of taxpayer dollars to the MIC.

          Your turn.

        • Gandalf says:

          unamused,

          It’s called LOW Earth Orbit (LEO). Time to read up about space sciences and space industries.

          In one report, Citi estimated that the global space industry was worth $424 billion in 2020, and is likely to grow to $1 trillion by 2040. SpaceX alone lowered the cost of delivering stuff into space from $16,000-30,000/kilogram to $2,400/kg, and this is likely to drop further to $300/kg, according to Citi.

          At the moment, all of Boeing’s major NASA contracts, the SLS booster, and Starliner capsule have been beset by continued delays, huge cost overruns, and technical problems (even the recent much delayed uncrewed launch of Starliner had serious technical glitches).
          SpaceX on the other hand has delivered for NASA, at much lower cost and on time.

          If you want to rant about taxpayer boondogles, it isn’t NASA, because NASA’s mission has clearly delivered huge returns with all the new technology and science, it’s been the wastrel corporations like Boeing and ULA that have continued to feed off taxpayer money with their Congressional lobbyists preventing NASA from just cutting them off at the knees and ending their hugely expensive contracts for failure to deliver on time and on budget.

          Return On Investment? I have no idea and really YOU DON’T EITHER. SpaceX is a private company. I’m not posting here about SpaceX to shill for them as an investment opportunity, only to point out its SIGNIFICANT technological achievements, which are, as I said, game changers.

          The last known bit of info on SpaceX is that it had revenues of $2 billion in 2019, which is not chump change. Starlink was launched in 2019.
          SpaceX most recently went for another funding round of $1.725 billion, with the valuation of the company set at $127 billion and putting the total private funding over $9 billion. This sounds wildly overpriced as with all things Musk, but, assuming SpaceX revenue has increased since 2019, is still cheaper than Tesla.

          In regards to the LEO of the thousands of Starlink satellites, yes I did mention already that was an increasing problem for ground based astronomy and space debris. Starlink satellites supposedly have a collision avoidance system, dunno if it works, but so far no Starlink satellites have been known to have hit other satellites.

          The thing about LEO is that the trace amount of atmosphere at that distance eventually slow down the satellites (and debris) enough that they all drop back to Earth sooner or later. Starlink claims its satellites are designed to burn up completely on reentry. Some 40 are known to have re-entered so far.
          This is unlike the high orbit satellites, the geosynchronous weather, communications, and spy satellites. Those stay forever and the thousands of bits of debris from collisions, such as the one between an Iridium communication satellite and a Russian military satellite in 2009 stay up there forever. Those are permanent cumulative hazards.

          In 1944, Werner von Braun launched the V2. With its revolutionary use of turbo pumps and liquid oxygen tanks, still the basis for modern rocket engines today, it was the technological game changer that really started the space age. As evil as the V2 was, its technology has been in use ever since for much better and grander purposes.

          So if you want to be a grumpy Luddite and wipe out EVERYTHING related to space travel, you would have to go back to the pre-1944 era. No computers, no internet, no TV, no Wolf Street forum to post your grumblings

  47. dishonest says:

    Perhaps Elon’s on the weed again.

    What is a businessman’s objection to WFH, if the job is getting done?

    It seems to be an idea who’s time has come.

    • unamused says:

      The savings in office costs are stupendous, as discussed in other articles.

      One suspects Elon didn’t actually run the numbers, being a Big Picture guy who delegates the tedious details to flunkies. I for one can’t really credit him for being a ‘genius’. Certainly Tesla’s tech is old school, except for the bells and whistles made by suppliers, and not by Tesla. He’s basically an opportunist who can wow investors who have money to burn with hype and hoopla, and those are rather pedestrian skills which can be learned from carnival barkers.

      Unlike the first auto makers, Musk has never built a vehicle with his own hands, and I have no reason to believe he could.

      • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

        Elon is no idiot. He isn’t my favorite but he has done more than people are giving him credit for. Elon Musk cofounded the electronic payment firm PayPal. He built the dream team that is launching rockets to space against all odds. He will continue to have success but he seems to make equal number of mistakes. Part of the omelet egg conundrum

        No he can’t build a car, rocket, solar panel, boring machine himself. He can motivate the workers and he has almost gone broke more than once putting his money where his mouth is

        • COWG says:

          “ No he can’t build a car, rocket, solar panel, boring machine himself. He can motivate the workers and he has almost gone broke more than once putting his money where his mouth is”

          Nathan,

          Once again, let’s go back to govt subsidies…

          Tesla sold many cars with govt tax credits applying to the purchase… 25k, IIRC…

          Further, much of Teslas profits come from selling carbon offsets to other auto companies…

          SpaceX exists from govt contracts..

          The only tunnel ( 1 mile, in Las Vegas ), is widely considered an abject failure from not only an operational, but also a safety standpoint… That was $50 million in govt money (Las Vegas tourism commission)…

          I repeat what I said before…

          Without Wall Street drinking the same kool aid as you and fistfuls of govt money, the success of anything Musk is highly doubtful…

        • Carlos Leiro says:

          the “hyper loops Las Vegas” is really incredible dumb.
          Please there are videos in youutube see it!

    • FinTechie says:

      It IS an idea whose time has come. Elon is too sure of himself to perceive this. Watch what happens as a painful percentage of his tech and other talent flows elsewhere.

  48. Carlos Leiro says:

    Hello everyone. I am not from the USA but I like to know how the different countries are. I have read that a large part of personal bankruptcies are due to medical service debts. I have also read that when you are going to take a job, in addition to salary and equal in importance, you must negotiate what health coverage you will have. Has medical coverage increased? Can you have the same levels of coverage that you had in the past?

    • Cynical Engineer says:

      Generally speaking, when you take a job that offers health insurance as part of your benefits, you’re offered a handful (between 1 and 3) of plans. You can choose between those, but there’s little you can do to negotiate for better insurance.

      I’ve been working in the United States for over 20 years. There isn’t a health insurance plan available at a reasonable price that matches the coverage you could get 20 years ago. I’d personally describe the typical employer-provided insurance plan as somewhere between poor and awful.

      If you aren’t employed and try and purchase insurance “on the open market”, the choices are horrific.

    • Nathan Dumbrowski says:

      COBRA is offered if you leave your job and need insurance. You get the same plan at a rate of 104% of what the company was paying. The 4% is to cover overhead. So you can keep the same plan in California for up to 18 months if you pay the cost. Have had to use this option so have experience

  49. Scared Millenial says:

    I know a guy, met him this weekend, sold his condo in DC, was on his way to Austin because he got a new job at Tesla. His job was cancelled while he was on the way to Texas driving his Tesla. Apparently they are super heavy and expensive to ship. There is definitely a shit storm on the horizon. Austin was decimated during the dotcom bubble burst. It’ll be so painful for so many people, unfortunately I work in tech too and don’t have enough cash to scoop up a deal when it all crashes.

  50. Adam Dalgliesh says:

    It is an absurd state of affairs when a company that has sold only a tiny number of cars is valued many times higher than the dozen or so car companies that hundreds of thousands of cars each year.

    Although I keep a sharp eye out for Teslas, I have never seen a single one either on the road, or in a parking lot, or in a side-of-theroad parking space. But I have seen no shortage of Fords, GMCs Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, Chrysler-Fiat Jeeps, and even Jaguars.

    And then there is the question of the large number of accidents with malfuncting Teslas, sometimes resulting in death to the drivers and passengers. This is a far higher toll than that of any of the established “legacy” car companies.

    The real “genius” of Elon Musk is that he has succeded in seducing both presumably experienced and savvy investors, as well as the general public, that Tesla is a succesful comapny that will make huge profits in the forseeable future. He is Charles Ponzi, Bernard Madoff, the executives of Enron, Serge Stavisky, the Chinese-American guy who defrauded investors into his “family office” phoney company (what is his name?)and a thousand other less famous fraudsters all rolled up into one.

    • Halibut says:

      I live in flyover country and I see lots of Teslas. Not as many as Toyotas or Fords, but it’s not at all unusual to see them.

      I don’t even get out much, but I see Teslas on the road.

      Where the heck do you live?

      • Wolf Richter says:

        I think Adam Dalgliesh lives in the Antarctica. And it’s true, there are no Teslas in the Antarctica, or any cars for that matter. Or any roads you could drive them on. There are some specialty vehicles, though.

        • Halibut says:

          Well, that explains it. Permafrost and roads don’t play nice together. Neither do cold weather and batteries.

    • Carlos Leiro says:

      Tesla made 305.000 in 2022 T1, (world) I think the production of other vehicles is about 20.000.000 in 2022 T1

  51. Adam Dalgliesh says:

    THe “family office” fraud that I mentioned above, without knowing the name of the fraudulent company and its fraudster CEO is Archegos Capital Management and “Bill” Hwang.

  52. RickV says:

    “genius manipulator that he is.” My problem with Musk’s recent antics is his current attempt to purchase Twitter “to further free speech”. If he has a “really bad feeling” about what is happening in the economy, as he has said, why would the genius decide to get involved in politics that has nothing to do with running a car company, flying a space ship, putting solar tiles on roofs, or hanging batteries on walls? I am a happy owner of a Model 3, but I sold my Tesla stock last week.

  53. Gabby Cat says:

    It seems to be a news worthy pattern. Tesla is now losing the middle management cushioning, just like the ones in my area started implementing 3 weeks ago.

    Also, there are more organizations that are taking pages from Black Rock and selling their RE. They made most of us permanently WFH. This is to reduce their carbon footprint and claim future social credits. The middle management in my organization are related to the cutting of RE.

    As for WFH, I adore it! As a Technical Writer – I can get a lot done without the cubicle farm chatter and impromptu meetings. Oh, and my office mates are a bunch of catty beings. Thankfully, it’s because they are cats! Can’t say the same for an office.

  54. Michael Engel says:

    1) The EPA shut down five refineries exceeding benzene emission…
    2) Ilan is cutting overhead while gas prices at the pump are rising.
    Mendocino CA gas station charge $10/ gallon.
    3) $10 are not good enough to pay for CA regulations, higher oil prices, higher wages, higher taxes, fees and penalties…soon there will be no gas stations in CA.
    4)

  55. SoCalBeachDude says:

    I would suggest that Maye’s boy focus on doing some work somewhere anywhere rather than being a crazed social gadfly who does nothing.

    DM: Elon Musk asks why ‘leaking’ DOJ won’t spill Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s client list and says it’s ‘odd’ officials remain silent on billionaire pedophile and his madam

    Musk shared a meme of ‘Things I’ll never see in my life,’ showing pictures of a dragon, a dinosaur, a unicorn, and text reading ‘The Epstein/Maxwell client list.’

  56. The Music Man says:

    Musk’s real genius is getting state and federal governments to give him billions of dollars and implement regulations to favor his company at the expense of his competitors and consumers. All through the magic thinking that a few one-hundredths of one percent change in the composition of the earth’s atmosphere warms the planet. All this while convincing stupid people with money that they’re helping Mother Earth by spending $50k+ on a 2-ton compact car whose purchase price and operating costs are subsidized by tax payers.

  57. phleep says:

    Deel is a US unicorn that enables firms to hire and pay remote contractors and employees in more than 150 markets globally. Coming soon to a niche near you.

  58. SoCalBeachDude says:

    There is a nice VW 2021 Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport that is kind of cute and has 8 more days to run on BAT and has now reached $4,000,000 on bid this morning, but it is unlikely any bid that low will meet reserve.

  59. ft says:

    Work From Home is a misnomer being used to describe Work At Home. There is a difference.

    • SoCalBeachDude says:

      What is the difference?

      • ft says:

        The difference is where the work takes place. Wolf Richter works at home. When I was a field service engineer taking care of equipment scattered around Silicon Valley for a company based on the east coast, I worked from home.

      • Gomp says:

        At least you have a vowel in the acronym.
        Wah! Wah! Wah!

  60. SoCalBeachDude says:

    Inflation divide: The wealthy splurge, the poorest pull back…

  61. SoCalBeachDude says:

    Tesla would run a lot better if it stopped attempting to be so vertically integrated and started decentralizing to offload tasks from the corporate management such as delivering and servicing vehicles. It desperately needs to establish a competent franchised dealer network which would take care of a lot of that and have the wonderful side benefit of complying with state laws on distribution and dealers.

  62. SoCalBeachDude says:

    Elon Musk Loses His Cool…

    Tesla’s CEO, the richest man in the world, is not used to having his accomplishments questioned. Few people contest that Elon Musk has become the most influential CEO in the world. That influence extends beyond the automotive and space spheres, where two of the companies he leads — Tesla (TSLA) – Get Tesla Inc Report and SpaceX — are the leaders or among them. The billionaire’s tweets and decisions also have a significant impact on the cryptocurrency industry.

    Musk is one of the influencers of dogecoin, one of the most important digital currencies in terms of market value — $11.6 billion, according to data firm CoinGecko. Dogecoin features the image of the shiba inu dog as its logo and namesake. It’s considered the first of the so-called meme coins, which are inspired by a meme or have some humorous characteristic. It was created by software engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, who’d said they’d decided to create a payment system as a joke. The coin was supposed to make fun of the wild speculation in cryptocurrencies.

    Now, despite the billionaire’s support for dogecoin, Palmer has just launched virulent attacks against Musk, in particular denying him his standing as a visionary. In a recent interview, Palmer says he had written a bot, which is a script to automatically detect crypto scams on Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter, Inc. Report. He says he gave it to the site’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey, to his team as well as to other crypto influencers. Musk, of course, has proposed to buy the microblogging provider.

    “Elon [Musk] reached out to me to get hold of that script and it became apparent very quickly that he didn’t understand coding as well as he made out,” Palmer told the Australian website crickey.com. “He asked, ‘How do I run this Python script?'” Palmer continued: “After I gave him the script, I wasn’t a fan of him.” “He’s a grifter. He sells a vision in hopes that he can one day deliver what he’s promising, but he doesn’t know that. He’s just really good at pretending he knows. That’s very evident with the Tesla full-self-driving promise.” That’s a reference to the EV producer’s oft-postponed production of a fully autonomous car.

    The virulence of Palmer’s criticisms of Musk is rare. He called the world’s richest man a “grifter” several times…

    https://www.thestreet.com/investing/cryptocurrency/elon-musk-loses-his-cool

  63. otishertz says:

    Will someone please make the flim flam man go away? No one really wants to go to Mars in a space prison with limited rations or travel in a 600 km one way vacuum pipe {not a loop} beyond the speed of sound – or get on a reusable vertical liftoff rocket plane to go half the way across the world in a half an hour plus ferry time – or make $30k per year renting your tesla out as a self driving taxi. Solar roofs? Solar roads? Anyone, Beuller?

    I’m amazed how many are still starstruck by this modern toupee’d PT Barnum. It says something about our education system. So much of musk is completely ridiculous and you don’t need a big science background to figure it out.

    • SoCalBeachDude says:

      Musk vastly outdoes PT Barnum, and is the world’s most bogus, absurd, and scammy conman history has ever seen. He’s truly one of a kind who has bilked more money out of the US government than any person in the history of the world.

  64. Marc D. says:

    I’m surprised by all the vitriol towards Musk and downplaying of his accomplishments in here. If it was so easy to do everything he’s done, how come nobody else has?

  65. Brock says:

    Elon’s “Super Bad feeling” was a playful reference to the movie Superbad . He made the post on McLovin Day – the birthdate on the fake driver’s license of that character in the movie. He’s playing a joke on all of us.

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