Is it a global crash. Or can we just blame Elon?
I try not follow what Elon Musk is up to too closely, but this story did get me wondering.
Basically, he’s canning work-from-home at Tesla:
In a memo headlined “Remote work is no longer acceptble” [sic], Musk wrote that “anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers.”
In a reply to a Twitter follower asking for “additional comment to people who think coming into work is an antiquated concept”, Musk wrote: “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”
About 30% of US office workers are still working from home, according to Nick Bloom, a Stanford economics professor and co-founder of Working from Home Research Project.
It struck me as odd.
First, for a company that has literally built its fortunes on being all about ‘the future’, these seems pretty backward looking.
Second, the jobs market in America is still incredibly strong. The unemployment rate last week came in a just 3.6%.
Given we know that pretty much every worker wants at least some flexibility in their work life, and that tech workers are particularly fussy about this, it seems like a guaranteed way to have some of your best people walk off the job.
But then maybe that’s what Musk wants. Because we also learnt last week that he’s freezing hiring and reducing headcount by about 10%.
The leak came from an internal email sent to Tesla executives on Thursday, titled “pause all hiring worldwide”.
The world’s richest person has decided to cut 10 per cent of Tesla’s 100,000-strong workforce, apparently telling top executives at the company he has a “super bad feeling” about how the economy is tracking.
Yikes! Musk has a feeling? Oh no.
But what does that feeling tell you? Is it about the American and global economy in general, or about Tesla specifically?
Because Tesla has been struggling. It’s share price is down over 40% since the start of the year, as it fails to make inroads into China.
But while Tesla is cutting staff, other auto-makers are hiring, as President Biden was keen to point out:
US President Joe Biden shot back Friday at Mr Musk's comments about the US economy, rattling off a number of American companies who are growing.
“While Elon Musk is talking about that, Ford is increasing their investment overwhelmingly and I think Ford is increasing the investment in building new electric vehicles, 6,000 new employees — union employees I might add — in the Midwest,” Mr Biden responded.
“The former Chrysler Corporation, Stellantis, they're also making similar investments in electric vehicles. Intel's adding 20,000 new jobs making computer chips,” he added.
“So, you know, lots of luck on his trip to the moon,” Mr Biden said.
Lol. Imagine getting trolled by the POTUS. No wonder Musk feels like he’s the central character in his own comic book.
So look, the thing I take from this is that there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there. Tesla seems to typify it.
But a lot of the doom and gloom is company and bubble specific. Tech stocks like Tesla got massively over-bought as retail investors piled their government handouts to anything that sounded sexy and was run by somebody with a nice hair cut.
But the party couldn’t last.
But just because the balloons are popping on Elon Musk’s ballroom, doesn’t mean that things are going to be rough for the rest of us.
I think we’ll be ok.