10 Intriguing Facts About Elon Musk


He's a Hard Worker — and a Demanding Boss

International Astronautical Congress, Elon Musk
Musk speaks at the International Astronautical Congress in 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. He detailed the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved in order to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars. Mark Brake/Getty Images

By 2012, Musk's net worth exceeded $1 billion for the first time. These days, that number is well above $20 billion, and likely to go higher. But Musk doesn't parade around with enormous expensive personal purchases like yachts. Instead, he buries himself at the office, and he expects the same dedication from his employees, a fact that sometimes leads to controversy.

In Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, he recounts a story about a longtime assistant who asked for a raise. Musk told her to take two weeks off during which time he would do her job and see how critical she really was to the team. When she returned, he told her he didn't need her again. She was offered another position, but left the company instead, no doubt insulted [source: Business Insider].

At Tesla, allegations of unfair low pay for workers, as well as unsafe working conditions, and mandatory overtime, have surfaced in recent years. Musk has refuted these allegations time and again [source: Lumb].

Workers at some Tesla facilities have attempted to unionize. So far, they've repeatedly come up short on signatures necessary to complete the unionization process. In the meantime, Musk's public comments essentially indicate that unions are a backward concept that merely solidify a caste system. He took to Twitter to claim that unions wrecked the "once great U.S auto industry" [source: Coren].

Some Tesla workers supporting unionization have reported intimidation tactics meant to keep them from organizing. And the kerfuffle about mandatory overtime is loud enough that California authorities began investigating the allegations of unsafe conditions in 2018. Only time will tell whether these kinds of business challenges will steer any of Musk's tech ventures into the ditch [source: The Independent].