A business “scholar” with limited empathy, according to his brother Kimbal


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Elon Musk runs two of the world’s most innovative and valuable tech companies, but you might not want to be his assistant.

The CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, 50, is a business “scholar”, but his “gift is not empathy with people,” said his brother and longtime business partner Kimbal Musk. Time Magazine earlier this month.

The scientist’s assertion is hard to deny. In Elon Musk’s opinion, Tesla and SpaceX were much more likely to fail than to succeed when they first launched in the early 2000s. Yet Tesla’s market value was $ 1.1 trillion on Monday, and SpaceX was recently valued at $ 100.3 billion in October – helping the tech mogul consolidate his status as the richest person in the world, with a net worth of $ 274 billion, according to Bloomberg.

But that largesse doesn’t seem to extend to his interpersonal skills, a claim repeatedly echoed in recent years by friends, foes and Musk himself.

“I reinvented electric cars and send people to Mars in a rocket,” the billionaire said in May during accommodation NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”. “Did you think I would be a cool, normal guy too?” “

In 2015, author and journalist Ashlee Vance published a 400-page biography of Musk – and Recount Vice that Musk has “the strangest type of empathy.”

“He doesn’t have a lot of interpersonal empathy, but he does have a lot of empathy for humanity,” Vance said. “I think he has a completely different set of emotions than the average person.”

Research shows that empathetic bosses can make most employees feel much more productive and engaged. In one survey published by the New York-based workplace non-profit Catalyst earlier this year, 61% of those polled with “highly empathetic senior leaders” said they constantly felt innovative at work, compared to just 13% of other respondents.

Similarly, 76% of people who reported having a caring boss said they felt “often or always engaged” at work, compared to only 32% of those with “less empathetic” bosses.

Musk seems to fall into the latter category. For years, he has said that space exploration and travel are essential to the survival of humanity and that electric vehicles can help fight climate change. But some employees and ex-employees say they are forced to endure toxic and damaging workplaces to work on these world-changing projects.

After Musk was named Time’s Person of the Year earlier this month, former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak wrote an op-ed for the online publication Lioness alleging that she had been sexually harassed during her tenure and that Musk helped create the work atmosphere that caused it.

“Elon makes promises he doesn’t hold himself accountable for, constantly moves the goal post, unnecessarily takes resources away from people who work themselves on the verge of burnout, and then sends threatening messages to remind them that their efforts will never be enough. ”Kosak wrote.

After the editorial was published, four more former SpaceX employees reported separate stories of workplace harassment at The Verge.

Similar allegations exist at Tesla, where production assistant Jessica Barraza sued his employer last month on “rampant sexual harassment” and “nightmarish conditions” at the company’s Fremont, California plant. Six other women have since filed similar lawsuits, many of them directly blaming Musk for Tesla’s corporate culture, according to at the Washington Post.

Neither SpaceX nor Tesla immediately responded to CNBC’s Make It request for comment.

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