Interview with Elon Musk
At the Qatar Economic Forum, the world’s richest man, the general director of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, spoke about a number of interesting issues.
During the video, he answered questions from Bloomberg editor-in-chief John Micklethwait and discussed such topical topics as: economic expectations, potential competitors, the issue of the acquisition of Twitter, Tesla’s plans and cryptocurrencies.
Here is the full version of the interview:
John Micklethwait: Now we have before us a man who is in many ways the world’s most successful capitalist. Currently, the media has to deal with three Elon Musk: one is an investor who is interested in buying the company Twitter; the second is the head and director of Tesla and SpaceX; And the third is Elon Musk as a figure with political power. Before we talk about all three of them, let’s start by discussing Twitter. My question is: What is the current status of the $44 billion deal? If we look at the attitude of the stock market, we will see that a large number of investors think that the deal will not happen. This economic forum is also attended by Qatari investors who are among your supporters, what would you say to them?
Elon Musk: First of all, thank you for the invitation, it is a great honor for me to speak at this event.
As for the Twitter issue, I am limited by the terms of my contract and US law to speak publicly and openly on this topic, so I can only share a limited amount of information. In this case, too, I must be very careful not to get involved in another lawsuit for commenting.
John Micklethwait: Did Twitter give you the information you asked for?
Elon Musk: So far, several issues remain unresolved. One of them, which probably you all already have information about, is bots and so-called Regarding the number of fake accounts. According to Twitter, the number of such accounts in the system is less than 5%, which I think is not true. We are still waiting for a response from Twitter in this regard, and I believe this is a matter of utmost importance.
Another issue to be discussed concerns the company’s financial obligations. In addition, it is also necessary to consider what the shareholders of the company will decide and whether they will support the sale of shares or not. I think these are the three main issues that will need to be resolved in order to successfully complete the transaction.
John Micklethwait: How about the general economic situation, do you factor that into your decision making? As you mentioned earlier, you have a “very bad feeling” about the economy – do you still hold that position? As you know, President Joe Biden recently said that recession is not inevitable. What do you think about the economic situation?
Elon Musk: I think at some point a recession is inevitable. Are you wondering if a recession is coming in the short term? – Yes, so it is. Obviously, this is not a necessary condition, but there is a greater chance that it will happen and a recession will develop. What do you think?
John Micklethwait: I agree with you, I also think there’s a good chance that… Let me ask one more question about Twitter. You currently command one of the largest and fastest growing investors in China. You yourself have repeatedly mentioned that almost a third of your sales come from China. And now you are buying the social network Twitter, which is a kind of public forum and fulfills the function of protecting the freedom of speech and expression. Historically, China has not been very enthusiastic about protecting freedom of speech. Do you think that running these two businesses at the same time will interfere with each other and you will face problems with China by buying Twitter?
Elon Musk: Twitter does not operate in China. I don’t think the Chinese government will try to interfere with America’s freedom of speech. I have a similar question for you – is Bloomberg under pressure from China? I don’t think that will be a problem.
John Micklethwait: In terms of free speech, you’ve said that you’re going to further increase the standards of freedom of expression on Twitter and loosen existing censorship and restrictions. Do you think there is a limit to who should be able to use Twitter?
Elon Musk: My goal is to make Twitter as free and inclusive as possible. It must be attractive and comfortable for the public.
Ideally, the number of Twitter users should cover 80% of the population of North America and possibly even half of the world. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to make Twitter attractive, obviously if users feel uncomfortable or offended, they will stop using Twitter.
In my opinion, there is a big difference between freedom of speech and accessibility. For example, in America, anyone can go out to Times Square and shout, although it will annoy a lot of people, but you still have the right to do so. In principle, you have the right to say anything, except for the phrase – “it’s a robbery” – this will probably cause you problems. However, in this case, no matter how strange or contradictory you say, it is not necessary for this information to be provided to the whole country and reported to the world.
I think, in general, Twitter’s approach should be this: people should be able to say whatever they want, but there should be limits on who can see it – and those limits should be determined by the individual preferences of Twitter users. If you want to see and read everything – Twitter will give you that; But if you don’t want to see, for example, offensive comments, then you won’t. Ultimately, our goal is to make Twitter as enjoyable, useful and fun a platform as possible for the majority of the population.
John Micklethwait: It sounds like you want to be involved in the company, do you plan to become the CEO of Twitter and run the social network alongside Tesla and SpaceX?
Elon Musk: I lead the product, that’s what I do in my companies. Whether I will have the title of CEO or not, it does not matter much to me, the main thing for me is the product and the technology.
John Micklethwait: I want to touch on the Tesla issue as well. It is clear that you have changed the auto industry significantly. The issue of competitors is very interesting to me. Where do you think the strongest competition will come from – traditional carmakers or, for example, new Chinese companies? As you know, a few days ago a report prepared by analysts was published, where it is predicted that Tesla will be overtaken by the German Volkswagen in the near future – do you agree with this opinion?
Elon Musk: As far as I know, this forecast was prepared by your Bloomberg team.
John Micklethwait: Yes, it is, and do you agree with it?
Elon Musk: No, I can’t really agree with that prediction.
John Micklethwait: Do you see Volkswagen, General Motors and similar traditional companies as competitors or do you see more of a threat from Chinese companies? In your opinion, where is the strongest competition in the electric vehicle sector?
Elon Musk: I have to admit that I admire Chinese companies. I think they are extremely competitive, driven and intelligent. I predict that in the future we will have a huge wave of Chinese products that will cover the whole world. In principle, this is already the case, as you know, almost all iPhones are made in China by Apple’s contractors. I think that in the future we will see the biggest wave of products exported from China.
John Micklethwait: Do they have an advantage in making electric cars?
Elon Musk: You could say they have. As such, from Tesla’s perspective, I would say that we don’t think much about our competitors. Our main challenges are mostly related to the production process and materials. The constraints we face are not directly caused by competitors, but by the supply chain.
Anyone who has wanted to buy a Tesla knows that the demand for our electric cars is extremely high, which is why it is necessary to stand in line for a long time. I would like to underline that this is not happening on purpose, we are trying our best to increase production capacity, and that is why I want to tell you that our main concern is not competition. We need to address supply chain issues and build new factories, and it is important to address challenges in the battery manufacturing process – both direct manufacturing and mineral extraction and processing.
John Micklethwait: Last week, you once again uploaded one of those pro-crypto-currency posts. As you can see, there is real bloodshed in the crypto exchange, what do you think is happening and do you still think that people should invest in crypto assets?
Elon Musk: I never said that people should invest in crypto assets. In the case of me, Tesla, and SpaceX, we bought a certain amount of Bitcoin, which is only a small part of our portfolio, and it does not matter much. Also, Tesla and SpaceX accept Dogecoin cryptocurrency for some of their products, and I plan to support Dogecoin in some way because many not-so-rich people have asked me to buy it and support it – and I will.