Why do people work for Musk?

Wednesday, September 20th, 2023

Why do people work for Musk?, Scott Alexander asks:

The book paints a pretty grim picture of working at a Musk company. Employees get handed near-impossible problems, chewed out or fired if they fail, and barely thanked at all if they succeed. Work weeks are 90+ hours. Vance says Elon sent an angry email to a marketing guy who missed an event because his wife was giving birth, telling him to “figure out where your priorities are” (Elon denies this). So why do thousands of people, including the very best and brightest who could get jobs anywhere, work for him?

The cliche answer — that they believe in the mission — is mostly true. But many employees also talked about their past jobs at Boeing or GM or wherever. They would have some cool idea, and tell it to their boss, and their boss would say they weren’t in the cool idea business and were already getting plenty of government contracts. If they pushed, they would get told to file it with the Vice President of Employee Feedback, who might hold a meeting to determine a process to summon an exploratory committee to add it to the queue of things to consider for the 2030 version of the product.

Meanwhile, if someone told Elon about a cool idea, he would think about it for fifteen seconds, give them a million dollars, and tell them to have it ready within a month — no, two weeks! — no, three days! For some people, the increased freedom and the feeling of getting to reach their full potential was worth the cost.


  1. Bomag says:

    Sort of maps why people are attracted to a frontier; why they flee communism for capitalism.

    But society grinds on spreading communism, and erasing frontiers. Hmmm…

  2. Bob Sykes says:

    Why did people work for Steve Jobs? He was a jerk. But he was also a visionary and demanded the absolute best.

  3. Jim says:

    Musk will go to HELL for convincing Porsche to ice combustion engines in favor of fucking batteries and electric motors, but it can’t be denied that he lives and breathes the supreme tyranny of Ancient Greece.

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