The Industry

All the Other Wild Things Elon Musk Did This Week

He sold his possessions, went on Joe Rogan again, and possibly defied California’s stay-at-home orders.

A close-up shot of Elon Musk gesturing.
Elon Musk has had a weird week. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and musical artist Grimes welcomed their first child into the world, immediately upstaging every other eccentric celebrity baby christening by choosing the name X Æ A-12. It’s pronounced either “X ai Archangel” or “X ash Archangel,” depending on which parent you ask.

It was, to be fair, probably the wildest thing Elon Musk did all week. But he also did a bunch of other wild things you might have missed. Such as …

Selling His Houses

Last Friday, Musk went on another one of his signature Twitter tears, this time quoting verses from “The Star Spangled Banner,” quipping that Tesla’s stock price is “too high imo,” and promising to sell almost all of his physical possessions, including his houses. Tesla’s stock price abruptly fell by more than 9 percent shortly after he posted the threads. (Musk is technically supposed to get his tweets preapproved by an in-house lawyer according to the terms of an SEC settlement after he falsely announced on Twitter in 2018 that he’d secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 a share. Musk indicated to the Wall Street Journal that he hadn’t had these recent tweets vetted, though it’s unclear whether the SEC will try to enforce the settlement.)

Then, on Monday, Musk actually did put two of his multimillion-dollar Bel Air homes on the market. One of the houses is listed on Zillow for $30 million and covers more than 16,000 square feet. It has seven bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a gym, a pool, a two-story library, a lighted tennis court, a wine cellar, a theater, a fruit orchard, and a motor court with a five-car garage.

The other house, listed for $6.75 million, is 2,800 square feet and has five bedrooms and bathrooms, a pool, and a guest cottage. It used to be owned by Gene Wilder. During his Friday tweet storm, Musk said of selling this home, “It cannot be torn down or lose any its soul.”

When asked by a Twitter user whether he was selling the houses because he needs the cash or to protest what’s happening in the world right now, Musk replied: “Don’t need the cash. Devoting myself to Mars and Earth. Possession just weigh you down.” Musk still has multiple other homes in Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Appearing on The Joe Rogan Experience

Musk sat down for a two-hour interview for an episode of Joe Rogan’s popular podcast that was posted on Thursday. The last time Musk appeared on the show, he took a drag from a blunt Rogan offered him on air and sipped whiskey, which prompted NASA to conduct an extensive workplace safety investigation into SpaceX that partly focused on ensuring that there was no drug use at the company. (NASA did not release the findings from the investigation, but SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said they were “very positive.”)

Musk did not touch any substances this time around on the podcast, but it nevertheless was a fairly outlandish spectacle. With regard to selling the houses, Musk re-upped his old complaint that billionaire has become a derogatory term. “People say, ‘Hey, billionaire, you’ve got all this stuff,’ ” Musk explained. “Well, now I don’t have stuff. What are you going to do?” (Musk is still worth $38.9 billion, according to Bloomberg.)

Musk also expounded on his skepticism of the coronavirus crisis’s economic lockdowns. Musk has long downplayed the dangers of the pandemic—and even tweeted about chloroquine as a possible treatment before it became President Donald Trump’s preferred miracle cure—and bristled under California’s stay-at-home orders. During the interview, Musk told Rogan that the quarantine restrictions were unconstitutional and that none of Tesla’s 7,000 employees in China died from the illness, a claim he offered as evidence that coronavirus fears are overblown.

Reopening Tesla’s Fremont Factory

According to Bloomberg, Musk and Tesla North America HR head Valerie Capers Workman sent emails to staff this week notifying them that the company would be partially reopening its Fremont, California, plant on Friday with 30 percent of its normal workforce per shift. Yet Alameda County, where the city of Fremont is located, has extended shelter-in-place orders through at least the end of May. Musk tried to claim that Tesla was an essential business when the orders first went into effect in March, though Alameda’s health officer did not agree and said it would be dangerous for the plant to continue operations. It’s unclear whether the plant will actually be producing cars given the reduced head count. Analysts predict that car manufacturing won’t actually start until June.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom did say that the state would be allowing some manufacturing to resume in certain places, but the Bay Area has opted not to lift its orders yet. Newsom said that he would defer to local authorities to decide whether they wanted such operations to resume in their counties.