Tesla Inc. (TSLA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder Elon Musk has remained at the center of headlines over the recent weeks, sparking fear on the Street regarding his non-conventional behavior and doubts over his ability to run all of his highly ambitious companies at one time. While the Street erupts in criticism of Musk's actions, viewed as erratic and impulsive by his skeptics, a top executive at his rocket ship company SpaceX laments people focusing on “triviality” over fundamentals.
Shares of the electric vehicle industry pioneer tanked last week on the release of Musk's appearance on popular podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. During the nearly three-hour episode, the serial entrepreneur and engineer spoke on topics including the future of artificial intelligence (AI), a 3-D underground traffic system, electric airplanes, and broader topics on life and society, ending the interview with, "love is the answer." The main takeaway on Wall Street, however, was that Musk smoked weed with the comedian, sparking a wave of bearish reports and downgrades.
(See also: A Bad Week For Tesla Just Got Worse.)
'Look at the Work Elon's Companies Do and Focus on That'
Gwynn Shotwell, president and chief operating officer (COO) of SpaceX, where Musk is also CEO and chair, says the furor is overblown.
“He is as lucid and capable as he has ever been. I wish people would not focus on triviality,” Shotwell said after speaking at a satellite industry conference in Paris, as reported by Bloomberg. “Look at the work that Elon’s companies do and focus on that. Not on what he does” in his own time, she added.
The SpaceX executive indicated that there's "no chance" recent headlines surrounding Musk will impact the aerospace company's ability to win contracts and that there has been "no impact at all" on the degree of confidence in him on the part of the closely held company's backers.
The 47-year-old CEO has caused some waves with his Twitter account, promising to secure the "short burn of the century," accusing the British diver who saved a soccer team in Thailand from a cave of being a pedophile and tweeting without approval that Tesla had funding secured for a take-private acquisition when shares hit $420.
In light of the backlash against Musk, it's important to note the CEO's successful track record of beating the odds. While shares remain down 6.3% year-to-date (YTD) through Wednesday afternoon, the stock has skyrocketed over 1,600% since hitting the public markets in 2010 at an initial public offering (IPO) price of $17. While many doubted Musk's ability to launch an electric vehicle from the start, Tesla is now on track to hit production targets for its first mass-market vehicle, the Model 3 sedan, viewed as a key milestone for the firm as it competes against new EV market entrants.