Elon Musk's year of losing
Elon Musk's year-end balance sheet for 2022 is full of red ink.
Why it matters: The world's richest man has been an icon of technological success, but his moves this year — led by his purchase of Twitter — have slashed his financial bottom line and tarnished his personal capital.
Driving the news: Much of Elon Musk's wealth is tied up in Tesla stock, which is down roughly 50% from the start of the year.
The big picture: It's symbolic of a year when Musk soared in mindshare — as his array of businesses weathered stalls and setbacks.
State of play: Tesla shareholders fret that Musk has spread himself too thin as the owner-manager of a half dozen major enterprises.
- As Musk obsesses over Twitter, Tesla faces tons of new competition — and its market share has begun declining.
- Tesla finally shipped the first of its Semi trucks last week. In 2017, Musk promised the electric big rig would "blow your mind clear out of your skull." But many doubts remain.
At Twitter, Musk needs to boost revenue while operating with one-third of the staff.
- A much-touted subscription overhaul is on pause after a rush-job launch led to a train wreck of impersonation and fraud.
- Many advertisers, the company's main source of income, paused their buys as Musk took control.
- The company's payroll costs are down. But it has to pay roughly $1 billion in annual interest on the $13 billion debt the company took on as part of Musk's buyout.
Touring Musk's other enterprises:
- At SpaceX, the good outweighed the bad. His rockets set a launch record, and Falcon Heavy returned to the skies. But the company saw an unusual rise in dissent and workplace complaints.
- The Boring Company, a Musk startup that aims to build tunnels under U.S. cities to speed traffic, has completed just one project — a loop under the Las Vegas Convention Center. Boring has teased projects in L.A., Chicago, Maryland and Fort Lauderdale — but hasn't followed through with actual bids, The Wall Street Journal reported in a story headlined, "Musk’s Boring Company Ghosts Cities Across America."
- Musk's Neuralink is developing technology for human-computer interfaces directly implanted in human skulls. As is often the case for Musk projects, Neuralink has presented video demos — most recently last week — touting breakthroughs just around the corner.
Reality check: Musk's net worth of nearly $200 billion still places him at the pinnacle of the global plutocracy.
- Even if he had to zero out his Twitter investment, he'd be just fine.