Visualizing The Many Failures Of Elon Musk

Tyler Durden's picture

Elon Musk is having a rough week.

After confessing to investors and Tesla’s customers that the company had only managed to build 260 of the 1,500 Model 3 Sedans that it had promised to deliver by the end of the third quarter, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Tesla had not yet finished building the Model 3 assembly line at its Fremont, Calif, factory. Instead, factory employees have been assembling cars by hand – a highly unusual method. As one source who spoke to WSJ confirmed: “that’s not how mass production vehicles are made.”

In a tweet published just before the storm, Musk said that the Tesla semi unveil had been pushed back until November as the company diverts resources to the Model 3 and to Puerto Rico, a transparent attempt to cover his flank should the company’s “production bottlenecks” persist for longer than anticipated.

Despite effectively being caught concealing material information from investors, Musk will in all likelihood soldier on from this latest scandal, bolstered by credulous investors (and generous government subsidies). Even if Tesla continues to miss increasingly ambitious production targets that have proven to be little more than a sop to investors, Musk – already one of Silicon Valley’s most durable figures – will continue to burnish his credibility as a “tech visionary” as he mesmerizes investors with his high-minded monologues about colonizing Mars.    

But you’ve got to give the man credit – he’s overcome a not-insignificant amount of adversity during his career. Like Travis Kalanick, he’s been fired as CEO of a company he founded. He’s also survived near fatal illnesses, and famously married – and divorced – the same woman twice.

In a colorful series of infographics, MarketWatch traces the tragedies and obstacles that have befallen Musk in career spanning more than two decades.

In 2000, Musk almost died after contracting malaria while traveling to Brazil and South Africa, prompting the famous quip “Vacation will kill you.”

He’s overseen not one, but three, failed rocket launches at SpaceX.

In December 2008, both Tesla and SpaceX were on the verge of bankruptcy.

Some other more recent setbacks for Musk have included an unexpected downgrade by Morgan Stanley, and Consumer Reports lowering its ratings on Tesla’s Model S and Model X.

Of course, Musk isn’t the only tech CEO who’s faced adversity. Steve Jobs was famously ousted from Apple in 1985 and later said of that time that he was a “very public failure.”

But even when his company caught up in another scandal, we imagine Elon – shielded by the fact that Tesla shares are trading north of $350 - has developed an appreciation for taking the long view.

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curbjob's picture

Great article by ExxonMobil, err I mean ZeroHedge.

youarelost's picture

He is a great businessman. I mean sucking off the tits of the American people for funding.  He and hist communist supporting buddies can really fuck off

Bes's picture


fuck musk!

give'em hell

sucking off the tits of the american people is

Wall Street's and the MIC's job

good thing we have a president who is standing up to both....



yomutti2's picture

Yeah, Musk has had some embarrassing failures. That's what happens when you are in the process of accomplishing great and difficult things.


Most people understand that. But the Russian mouthpieces all want to smear him beccause Spacex is going to kill the Russian launch business.

Ha ha ha... suck on that, Russians.


Quantum Bunk's picture

lol Russia continues to dominate the space industry with the most commerical contracts.

SpaceX is a company designed to harvest tax credits and sell stock.

Leave the real work up to the Russians. You fucking joker.

Saucy-Jack's picture

His only successful rocket landings are just cgi reversed filming of take offs.

SpaceX is a joke.

MEFOBILLS's picture

Reusing the rocket = economic advantage.  Sorry, but that logic is about as stark as it gets.  Other launch operators should be very worried.

garypaul's picture

O.K. I'll bite. So tell us Mr. Stark, what is the economic advantage? Can you list the cost of firing a rocket vs. reusing it? Do you have any numbers to back your comment?

D503's picture

The sole beauty of Musk's bullshit is that the child who tries to tell the investors that they have no clothes on requires a PE stamp and a master's from an Abet Accredited school. Once the child points out the lack of clothes with 10,000 pages of astm data and multiply nested related rates problems, they've already invested another 100 billion in solar powered hoverboards with self tying laces. 

What's the economic advantage to "reusing rockets?" Shorting Spacex.

Laowei Gweilo's picture


guy tries to make stuff in america




guy makes cars by hand


D503's picture

Plenty is "Made in American..." prisons. By hand, at that.

Utopia Planitia's picture

If you wish to choose to invest your money in Musky Scent then nobody is stopping you.  Apparently you fail to acknowledge that everyone who pays Federal taxes is being FORCED to support him, whether they want to or not. As a result of his POLITICAL connections. He is simply robbing the treasury (with the aid of demonrats) to fulfill his dreams.

If you want to worship him nobody is stopping you from doing that either.  But you don't get to FORCE me to join you.

If his ideas are that great would't the private money come rolling after him?  I still don't hear you offering up yours...

garypaul's picture

Did you ever consider that Musk was just pissed at the Russians for refusing he swore he'd get revenge by building his own space program...but it doesn't really work that way?

Godwhacker's picture

Kinda makes you wonder what would’ve happened if Al and Tiipper lost a close election to a musician instead of a Texas oilman. More PMRC, less NRDC?

VD's picture

Musk should just go all in that other ponzi and offer crypt0-coins. at least the junky tesla cars are real though, sorta, kinda...

Freddie's picture

Assembling Model 3's by hand? 

I have a relative who works for arguably the most profitable vehicle car company and at their biggest plant.  Mass production of cars is serious and complex shit.

The model 3 is a $50 k car not a $35K car.  You cannot hand assemble a car you are already losing $15 K a unit or so on.  Insanity.

Musk is alsdo a douhebag for wrecking a McLaren F1, one of the most amazing cars ever made.  It has a BMW V-12.


LyLo's picture

“that’s not how mass production vehicles are made.”

Am I the only one just dying of laughter?  This line is pure gold here, people!

a Smudge by any other name's picture

Musk: Disruptive!

Montoya: You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

kellys_eye's picture

Would be fun to see a timeline of all the taxpayer subsidies he's been in receipt of.......

jcaz's picture

Guessing he prolly blew the Netscape interview when he started babbling about going to Mars someday-

But now he's a "visionary"


bluskyes's picture

Is that the same as hallucinations?

wise cracker's picture

Um yeah, failure is an integral part of ambition, especially extreme ambition. 

Arrest Hillary's picture

We don't re-use condoms .... why would we re-use rockets .... we need disposable launch vehicles .... like the Russian kerosene machine .... we don't re-use tampons ?

moorewasthebestbond's picture

Too much suckling on .gov titties for Musk!

WorldWidePleb's picture

And how many attempted rocket launches have you cunts overseen? You can count the Fourth of July in the total if you want?

07564111's picture

I guess you're sucking on something other than .gov titties ?

Can I takes a guess at what ;)

WorldWidePleb's picture

I guess you spend a good deal of your time imagining men sucking on things.

jcaz's picture

Naw, you gotta admit that he gave you an EPIC burn, dude....

Now move your tongue a lil faster... That's it......

WorldWidePleb's picture

Epic burn would be a suitable description for Musk’s rocketry. That comment? Not so much.

NickPeeMe's picture

And yet some how he is a billionaire. I will never stop failing.

jcaz's picture

....Failing to your knees......

Milton Keynes's picture

I hate to play fanboy but SpaceX has made a number of successful launches.



MEFOBILLS's picture

Even if not a fanboy, ZH is an economic website. 

 Elon says 75% of the cost of the rocket is the booster stage. Merlin engines cost about $1m each. Total cost is around $65m including launch costs.

garypaul's picture

Your numbers are bunk.

The space shuttle had two booster rockets attached to the launch vehicle. NASA just discarded them because it wasn't worth re-working them. And wasn't the space shuttle itself really just a reusable rocket? So what innovation has Musk done here?

D503's picture

The innovation was clearly paying engineers 15% less on average, hiring out H1b's whenever possible, convincing undergrads to hand over their data for free, convincing the US government to hand over all of NASA's research, and completely fabricating the truth so investors would btfd. Musk could promise his sycophants they were getting a blow job and they would cum in their pants on the spot.

jcaz's picture

You lost your point when you said "Elon says......"-

Wake the fuck up.  

JoeTurner's picture

Musk is the king of tax skimming

Storm-Clouds's picture

The dead don’t care.....

Either does Musk.

For that matter either did P.T. Barnum...aka “there is a sucker born every minute.”

The USA taxpayers are suckers as are the Musk bond holders.

The Musk protection team will down vote the truth.

But the dead don’t care.....

Goldilocks's picture

Tesla: #winning

Elon Musk: "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

Ben Tornilloed's picture

In the oil & gas exploration bidness, we say if you haven't drilled a dry hole, you haven't taken enough risk.

I Write Code's picture

He provides more free entertainment than the entire remaining Hollywood film industry.

SerfsUp's picture

Failure would be all fine as part of being an entrepreneur.  The problem is he's failing with taxpayer $$ and running these unprofitable companies with taxpayer $$.  The reason Tesla has such a high share value is because his company has limited downside due to taxpayer subsidy.  He effectively runs a Chinese communist style state-owned enterprise. 

JuliaS's picture

Indeed. Too much focus on rocket crashes also. Russians have denied him the purchase of rockets? Well, under what circumstances exactly? Russians don't care as long as the money is there. If they said no, that means the offer didn't match expectations.

And how many rocket launches went fine on the first try? Germany kept crashing V1 series rockets one after another before they finally got them to fly and even then, the hit ratio was laughable. Russians - when they tried beating us to the moon were experimenting with different propulsion designs - many small engines instead of 5 big ones. Those things kept exploding one after another up until the point where the entire program had to shut down. The cost of one such crash would equal to all of musk's failures combined if this was done in America. And how many people did SpaceX crashes kill?

Russians had hundreds of casualties. Yuri Gagarin represented the first successful trip into outer space, but it was actually the 4th try. One preceding crash killed the cosmonaut because the landing system of the capsule malfunctioned. A crash before that one had the rocked fall back near the launch center, killing 125 people.

What about our own Shuttle program?

I completely agree - failure is unavoidable and it is part of running a business. As long as you don't make the same mistake twice - you're probably doing it right.

But when you use taxpayers to cover up for your mistakes - then it's a whole different story.

As I always say - Musk often gets compared to Tony Stark and I agree. They're both fictional billionaires.

honestann's picture

Interesting information about Elon.

However, it does seem a bit one-sided, no?

Such utterly one-sided reporting is highly disingenuous.

I'm not an Elon Musk fan, but I'm even less a fan of propaganda.

What's this doing on ZH, anyway?

Cutter's picture

Agree.  If you list his failures, you must list his successes.  Overcame a difficult childhood.  Made himself rich, beyond imagination, from nothing.  Helped create an incredible company in Paypal.  Started an incredibly inovative rocket company that has done things not even governments accomplished.  And Tesla's are amazing machines, even if the company is not worth its current valuation.

And most importantly, the guy is an idealist, who wants to make the world a better place.  He is a unique personality, but despite his riches he hasn't lost his idealism.

He has plenty of faults, don't we all, but you have to admire his tenacity, drive, and idealism.