We either do this or we die

Monday, April 1st, 2024

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson Musk’s tolerance for stress is high, Walter Isaacson explains (in his biography of Elon), but 2008 almost pushed him past his limits:

Some Tesla executives and board members felt that the deposits should have been kept in escrow rather than tapped for operating expense, but Musk insisted, “We either do this or we die.”


Musk’s friend Bill Lee invested $2 million, Sergey Brin of Google invested $500,000, and even regular Tesla employees wrote checks. Musk borrowed personally to cover his expenses, which included paying $170,000 per month for his own divorce lawyers and (as California law requires of the wealthier spouse) those of Justine. “God bless Jeff Skoll, who gave Elon money to see him through,” Talulah says of Musk’s friend, who was the first president of eBay. Antonio Gracias also stepped up, loaning him $1 million. Even Talulah’s parents offered to help. “I was very upset and called Mommy and Daddy, and they said they would remortgage their house and try to help,” she recalls. That offer Musk declined.


Talulah watched in horror as, night after night, Musk had mumbling conversations with himself, sometimes flailing his arms and screaming. “I kept thinking he was going to have a heart attack,” she says. “He was having night terrors and just screaming in his sleep and clawing at me. It was horrendous. I was really scared, and he was just desperate.” Sometimes he would go to the bathroom and start vomiting. “It would go to his gut, and he would be screaming and retching,” she says. “I would stand by the toilet and hold his head.”


He gained a lot of weight, and then suddenly lost it all and more. His posture became hunched, and his toes stayed stiff when he walked.

Leave a Reply