Elon Musk has acknowledged exhaustion from overwork as he deals with the aftermath of a market-rattling tweet on taking Tesla private – a mess that worsened with reports that US regulators subpoenaed him over the statement.
"This past year has been the most difficult and painful year of my career," Musk told the New York Times in an interview on Thursday. "It was excruciating."
The paper said the swashbuckling CEO of the electric car company choked up at times during the interview as he talked about working endless hours trying to meet production deadlines, spending his 47th birthday in June – every hour of it – at work and almost missing his brother's wedding.
Of the physical toll his job is taking, he said: "It's not been great, actually. I've had friends come by who are really concerned."
Musk said he saw last week's tweet – which included an assurance that funding for going private was secured – as an attempt to be transparent.
The news sent Tesla shares soaring so much that trading was suspended in New York. It shocked investors, market analysts and reportedly even Tesla board members who did not see it coming.
While he acknowledged that no one read the post before he sent it, Musk said he did not regret it – "Why would I?" – and that he would not stop using Twitter.
In the interview Musk said board members had not complained to him.
But after it was initially published he did say through a spokesperson that there was in fact negative feedback, the Times said.
He said Antonio Gracias, Tesla's lead independent director, did contact him to discuss the Twitter post.
Musk said he had agreed not to tweet again about privatization deal unless he had discussed it with the board, the report said.
Tesla shares fell this week on reports by Fox Business and the Times that the US Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed Musk to talk about the tweet.
Normally such a major announcement – taking a huge company private – would be explained in detail beforehand to regulators.
He and other board members are preparing to meet with SEC officials as early as next week, the Times said.
Musk on Monday explained in a blog post that his much scrutinised statements about financing were based on his conversations with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund and other investors.
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