Elon Musk and the New CEO


Qilai Shen

Elon Musk, CEO of Space X, was forced to step down as chief executive of Tesla amid controversy over a tweet.

Patrick Ales, Staff Writer

Large tech companies are becoming more than just a purveyor of goods and services, now an integral part of a society that is reliant on the daily use of technology. Brands like Amazon, Google and Tesla are at the forefront of innovation and, thus, serve as the face of American business. As the nature of these conglomerates evolves, so do the people that run them. Traditional CEOs tend to stay out of the public eye, as they are adverse to controversy and rarely make appearances outside of their company; people like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates come to mind. They are widely known because of the position they hold, rather than being known independently from their job. The late Steve Jobs brought about a different type of CEO, one that was recognizable for who he was in addition to what he did. Emerging from the very same mold, and pushing the boundaries with little regard, is Tesla and Space X CEO Elon Musk. Combining a $21 billion net worth with an active and often controversial Twitter account, Musk has been a central figure in the revolution of the tech industry and the CEO position. Not without its detractors, Musk’s persona in the business world has brought about the much-needed shift away from the prototypical executive.

“People like Elon Musk have involved the public more in his companies and I think this new trend in CEOs is beneficial for all parties,” junior Alejandra Cano said.

Questions have been raised about the professionalism of executives like Musk that are constantly in the public eye; just a few months ago, Musk was filmed doing drugs on a Youtube podcast. While it is possible to reprimand a private citizen for a perfectly legal act, Musk saw the stock of Tesla drop overnight, as well as seeing two executives resign shortly after the footage surfaced. At around the same time, Musk had tweeted that he planned to turn the publicly owned Tesla brand into a private company, having secured funding from various investors. This tweet sent the stock market into a frenzy, and prompted action from the SEC. Musk was removed as CEO of Tesla and fined for the deceiving tweet, after it was shown that his talks with investors were only preliminary.

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I think Elon Musk has crossed a few lines but this may just be due to the novelty of his public relations strategy.”

— senior Fresiano Correia

It is too early in Musk’s public image, as well as those CEOs taking the same path of fame, to say whether it is a good idea to live in the limelight while running some of the richest companies in the world. While Musk has taken a few hits in the stock market for his actions, his public presence can easily be credited for the much of success of his ventures. In a society increasingly dependent on technology and social media, connecting with potential shareholders on a regular basis may not be a bad idea. Whether or not this plan proves effective, to call Elon Musk’s approach to public relations unprofessional is a stretch. Change is rather inevitable in an industry based on innovation, and expecting those who lead the industry to stay static as everything changes around them is naive.