Elon Musk refused to publicly apologize for the ‘pedo guy’ comment he tweeted at the British diver who rescued young Thai soccer players trapped in a flooded cave because he was worried doing so would make him look cowardly, according to a new book.
Even as his company’s stock was dipping more than 3 percent amid his Twitter feud, the Tesla CEO even dared the diver, Vernon Unsworth, to take him to court, telling a BuzzFeed News reported in August 2018: ‘I f***ing hope he sues me.’
Musk emailed the comment to the reporter thinking that it was off the record, but the journalist, Ryan Mac, never agreed to the arrangement. The story and Musk’s quotes were published in full on September 4, 2018.
In late 2019, Musk testified that he was being insulting, not literally calling a British cave diver a pedophile when he lashed out on Twitter and ended up in a defamation lawsuit from the man who helped rescue a dozen boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thailand cave in 2018.
Elon Musk (left) refused to publicly apologize for the ‘pedo guy’ comment he tweeted at Vernon Unsworth (right), the British diver who rescued young Thai soccer players trapped in a flooded cave because he was worried doing so would make him look cowardly, according to a new book
The Tesla CEO told jurors that he called Vernon Unsworth 'pedo guy' because he was upset the spelunker had belittled his efforts to build a mini-submarine to transport the boys to safety.
When news of the trapped boys’ soccer team broke, Musk took an interest. On Twitter, he suggested the use of a mini-submarine that would ferry the boys to safety.
Musk even flew to the cave site and posted photos of himself there on Twitter. He left the mini-sub there for rescue workers to use in case they needed it.
He tweeted on July 9: 'Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids' soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be used in the future. Thailand is so beautiful.'
But by that time a rescue attempt was initiated and Musk's mini-sub wouldn't be needed.
The Tesla mogul wasn’t happy that the regional governor in Thailand said that the mini-sub wasn’t practical for use in a rescue mission.
The sub was never used and Unsworth called it nothing more than a 'PR stunt' and said Musk could stick the craft 'where it hurts.'
The comment enraged Musk, who went on a tweetstorm in which he said: ‘Sorry pedo guy. You really did ask for it.’
Musk’s aides and deputies pleaded with him to apologize and delete the tweet, which caused the value of the company to drop.
The stock price fell by some 3.5 percent, wiping $2billion off the company valuation.
But Musk feared that apologizing would make him look like a coward.
‘We need to stop panicking,’ Musk told his charges.
'My words were spoken in anger after Mr Unsworth said several untruths & suggested I engage in a sexual act with the mini-sub, which had been built as an act of kindness & according to specifications from the dive team leader,' Musk said in his apology.
'Nonetheless, his actions against me do not justify my actions against him, and for that I apologize to Mr Unsworth and to the companies I represent as leader. The fault is mine and mine alone. I am truly sorry if I offended anyone.'
Musk doubled down on his 'pedo guy' claim - reversing himself after the matter seemed to have been resolved after the apology.
In August 2018, the Tesla chief posted another Twitter tirade wondering why Unsworth didn't sue him.
'You don't think it's strange he hasn't sued me? He was offered free legal services,' Musk wrote, responding to a tweet from a former TechCrunch writer criticizing the 'pedo guy' remark.
The comment enraged Musk, who went on a tweetstorm in which he said: ‘Sorry pedo guy. You really did ask for it.’
In an email to a Buzzfeed reporter, Ryan Mac, seeking comment on the threat of a lawsuit by Unsworth’s lawyer, Musk wrote the journalist ‘should stop defending child rapists,’ followed by expletives.
Musk then explained to Mac why he thought Unsworth was actually a peodphile.
'[Unsworth is] an old, single white guy from England who’s been traveling to or living in Thailand for 30 to 40 years, mostly Pattaya Beach, until moving to Chiang Rai for a child bride who was about 12 years old at the time,' Musk wrote to Mac.
There was no truth to Musk's suggestion that Unsworth traveled to Thailand to find a child bride.
The diver was in Southeast Asia because that's where his Thai girlfriend was from. She was 40 years old at the time.
'There's only one reason people go to Pattaya Beach,' Musk wrote.
WHAT WAS ELON MUSK'S PLAN TO SAVE THE THAI CHILDREN TRAPPED IN FLOODED TUNNELS?
Twelve young footballers and their 25-year-old coach became trapped in a flooded cave system in Thailand on June 23, 2018.
Divers and other rescue worker worked frantically to come up with a plan to free the youngsters imprisoned in the Tham Luang Nang Non caves.
On July 6, almost two weeks later, billionaire Elon Musk shared suggestions for those working on the ground after receiving tweets requesting his input.
Elon Musk said his Boring Co, which digs tunnels for advanced transport systems, could feed a nylon tube into the submerged sections of the cave before inflating it 'like a bouncy castle' to create an underwater tunnel.
Musk also committed to sending top engineers from his Boring Co. and SpaceX companies to help free the trapped schoolchildren.
According to the Tesla CEO, rescuers could use electric pumps to remove water from flooded entrance of the cave network – eliminating one of the bodies of water those trapped would need to cross.
Nylon tubes measuring some 3ft (1m) in diameter could then be fed through the cave network to the flooded sections.
Battery packs and air pumps would be used to inflate the nylon tubes, submerged underwater. These tubes would provide an escape tunnel the children could crawl through to safety, Musk suggests.
However, Professor John Gunn from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham and chair of the cave research association, had reservations about details of the scheme.
He said: 'If you imagine a tunnel under London flooded, this this would be straight with a few bends.
'However, this is more like asking to thread a pipe through all the aisles of a supermarket, up the stairs, down the stairs and then back through the aisles and also in total darkness and underwater.
'You can see it is more complicated. If he was proposing the pipe is moved by divers then I think that’s a non-starter.'
'Chiang Rai is renowned for child sex trafficking. He may claim to know how to cave dive, but he wasn't on the cave dive rescue team and most of the actual dive team refused to hang out with him. I wonder why...'
Unsworth took Musk up on his suggestion, filing a $190million defamation lawsuit in 2018.
In a court filing, Musk asked the judge for a summary judgement and explained all the reasons why he thinks he is innocent of defamation.
He also tells how he hired private investigator James Howard after calling Unsworth 'pedo guy' on Twitter and says he paid him $50,000 to look into the Brit.
The first reason Musk gives is an apparent explanation of why he is not guilty of defamation is described as follows; 'Musk based his comments to BuzzFeed on what a private investigator said about Mr. Unsworth, both in written reports and by phone, based on an investigation he claimed to have undertaken in Thailand and England.
'The investigator reported that Mr. Unsworth was a fixture in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, a locale notorious for prostitution and child trafficking, that he had a taste for young Thai girls, that he w**re-mongered his way through the go-go bars of Thailand, that his only friends were his 'sexpat' peers, and that he married his Thai wife when she was a teenager, after starting a relationship when she was a young girl.'
There was no truth to Musk's suggestion that Unsworth traveled to Thailand to find a child bride. The diver was in Southeast Asia because that's where his Thai wife was from. She was 40 years old at the time. Unsworth is seen right with his wife, Woranan Ratrawiphukkun
In 2019, Unsworth filed a $190million defamation lawsuit against Musk. A jury found Musk was not liable for defamation. Musk and Unsworth are seen in the above court sketches during their testimony in Los Angeles federal court in December 2019
It then says he sent the claims to BuzzFeed, 'making clear it could not publish any of his statements because they were 'off the record'
'He believed they would further investigate rather than simply publish his well-founded concerns,' Musk's lawyer writes.
He says he had no way of knowing BuzzFeed would print his claims without further proof of them and that it's not his fault the media outlet did.
The motion goes on to say that while the private investigator's information was dud - it 'does not matter'.
'Musk had a constitutionally-sufficient basis to say what he said to BuzzFeed.
'Although it turns out that the investigator lacked solid evidence of Mr. Unsworth's behavior, that does not matter here,' it says.
A jury ruled that Musk was not liable for defamation.
Elon Musk chased Tesla manager while screaming foul-mouthed abuse at him for quitting, fired another exec for telling him the truth and ordered staff to text customers instead of phoning them to save time, new book claims
A new book has documented what the author claims to be Elon Musk's mercurial temper and recounts several episodes of rage that he flew into during stressful times as Tesla's CEO.
Reporter Tim Higgins adapted a section of his upcoming book Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century for the Wall Street Journal on Friday, describing the stressful period of September 2018.
At the time, Musk's job and the company's future was on the line, as Tesla raced to roll out the crucial Model 3 before the end of September, in order to record those sales for the quarter.
Musk had set the ambitious goal of delivering 100,000 Model 3s by the end of the quarter -- more cars than the company sold in the entire prior year -- and one anecdote recounts how he chewed out a manager who told him it was not realistic.
On a nightly conference call, a manager with years of experience overseeing supply chains for the Army National Guard told him that the company was on pace to deliver 80,000 cars for the quarter, and that his 100,000 goal was impossible.
Within days, Musk fired the manager, according to the book, telling other executives he was disappointed with her 'fundamental inability to perform.'
In the end, Tesla's deliveries reached 83,500 for the quarter, nearly exactly what the fired manager had predicted.
A new book has documented Elon Musk's mercurial temper and recounts several episodes of rage that he flew into during stressful times as Tesla's CEO
Musk has refuted many of the claims in the book, saying in a tweet: 'Higgins managed to make his book both false *and* boring.'
On another daily conference call described in the book, Musk reportedly took Las Vegas sales manager Cayle Hunter to task even as he announced scheduling a record 1,700 people to pick up their Model 3s in the coming days.
Musk ordered Hunter to double the number the next day, and threatened to fire him if he called a single customer, insisting that text messages were better.
Hunter panicked because the Las Vegas store did not have the hundreds of company cell phones needed to text thousands of customers, but pieced together a solution using software that allowed his team to text from their computers.
Just nine months into his job, with his wife and children only recently having relocated to join him in Las Vegas, Hunter was desperate at the thought of losing his job, and spurred his team into a frenzy of activity.
Often, they didn't even wait for a customer to respond to a text before putting them down for the assigned pickup time, warning buyers that they'd have to wait until the next quarter if they didn't make their designated appointment.
By the end of the day, Hunter's team had reached 5,000 appointments, and he fought back tears as he gathered them to thank them, not revealing that his job had been on the line.
The Tesla plant in Fremont, California is seen above. A new book makes surprising claims about Elon Musk, but he has panned it as 'false'
In another instance, the book claims that Musk flew into a rage when a manager put in notice that he was quitting the company.
Musk confronted the manager at the the Fremont delivery center, screaming profanities and berating the man.
'I don't want anyone here who is going to quit on me during a time as important as now,' Musk reportedly said.
Musk followed the manager into the parking lot, continuing the confrontation, according to the book.
The incident even resulted in a board investigation after rumors that Musk had physically shoved the man, though the board ultimately said there was no physical altercation, according to the book.
Another incident described in the book predates the pressure cooker weeks of September 2018.
According to a review in the Los Angeles Times, the book claims that Musk once demanded to be made the CEO of Apple during discussions of a potential Tesla buyout with Tim Cook -- though both Musk and Cook deny they have ever spoken.
In 2016, Apple CEO Cook had called Musk to propose acquiring the electric carmaker, which was struggling financially ahead of the unveiling of the Model 3, according to the book.
Musk expressed his interest in the idea but had one condition, telling Cook: 'I'm CEO.'
Cook at first thought Musk meant that he wanted to remain CEO of Tesla after the merger, and said that he was not opposed to the idea.
But when Musk clarified that he expected to take Cook's job as Apple CEO, Cook responded 'F*** you' and hung up, according to the new book.
Apple denies the conversation took place - and says, in fact, Cook has never even spoken to Musk.
Musk also refuted the report in a tweet, writing: 'Cook & I have never spoken or written to each other ever.'
'There was a point where I requested to meet with Cook to talk about Apple buying Tesla. There were no conditions of acquisition proposed whatsoever. He refused to meet. Tesla was worth about 6% of today's value,' added Musk.
The book claims that Musk once demanded Tim Cook (above) make him the CEO of Apple -- though both Musk and Cook deny they have ever spoken
Higgins, the reporter, fired back in a tweet of his own, writing: 'Musk was given plenty of opportunities to comment on this. He didn’t. This anecdote comes from Musk’s own account of the conversation, according to people who heard the retelling at the time.'
The book was apparently written without any cooperation from Musk. When given opportunities to comment, Higgins said Musk declined, except to tell the author: 'Most, but not all, of what you read in this book is nonsense.'
Many of the anecdotes revealed in the book highlight what the author suggests is Musk's mercurial temper.
In one case, a factory line worker at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California told Musk that he'd come up with a way to fix a car window's screeching sound by making an incision in the seal, according to the book.
Musk flew into a rage at manufacturing executive John Ensign, who was present, demanding to know why he hadn't come up with the solution.
'This is unacceptable that you had a person working in your factory that knows the solution and you don't even know that!' Musk reportedly said.
Musk fired Ensign, who actually had known about the proposed fix, but didn't want to embarrass the factory worker by revealing that engineers had already tried it, but found that it only worked temporarily.
According to the LA Times review, the book focuses more on the history of Tesla than Musk personally, highlighting the achievements of lesser known employees, many of whom departed after clashing with Musk.
Earlier this week, Tesla announced that its quarterly profit had surpassed $1billion for the first time, and the company is now valued at a staggering $680 billion.
The financial milestone announced on Monday extended a two-year run of prosperity that has erased questions about Tesla's long-term viability raised during its early years of losses and production problems.
Tesla now has cemented its position as the leader in the shift away from gas-combustion that is expected to make it even more profitable than during its most recent quarter.
Musk hold's the world's second largest personal fortune at $185 billion as of Thursday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
For all its recent success, Tesla's momentum could still be slowed by a persisting shortage of chips that have become vital parts in modern cars.
While other major automakers had to dramatically curtail production during the first half, Tesla so far has been able to secure an adequate supply of chips to churn out vehicles at the fastest rate in its history.
In the most recent quarter, Tesla delivered more than 206,000 vehicles within a three-month span for the first time in its history. It is also gearing up to add another sports utility vehicle, the Model Y, to its lineup later this year.