Photo: Mark Brake/Getty Images

Elon Musk, in his first interview since the tumult exploded around his plans to take Tesla private, tells the The New York Times that the past year "has been the most difficult and painful year of my career. It was excruciating."

Why it matters: Beyond providing a window onto Musk's state of mind, the Times' reporting provides updates into Tesla's inner workings and the take-private announcement that's under investigation by securities regulators.

A few takeaways . . .

  • One plan under consideration is to have another Musk company, SpaceX, help finance the take-private plan and take an ownership stake in Tesla.
  • Tesla board members and Musk could meet with Securities and Exchange Commission officials as soon as next week.
  • "Efforts are underway" to find a number 2 executive to ease pressure on Musk, the paper reports, citing sources briefed in the search.
  • However, Musk tells the paper that while the company approached Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg a couple years ago, he says that “to the best of my knowledge,” there is “no active search right now.”

Elsewhere, the piece provides some new details about Musk's August 7 Twitter claim that he had "funding secured" for the transaction, which sent Tesla's shares upward. Musk confirms that it was not seen or reviewed by anyone before he sent it.

  • It's a claim that Musk later acknowledged was a reference to interest from Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund but not a financing commitment, and is now reportedly under investigation by the SEC.

The big picture: Musk opens up about his emotional state and exhaustion during what has been a tumultuous time for Tesla as the company has raced to scale-up output of the Model 3 sedan, a car that's vital to its future but has been beset with production delays.

  • "At multiple points in an hourlong interview with The New York Times, he choked up, noting that he nearly missed his brother’s wedding this summer and spent his birthday holed up in Tesla’s offices as the company raced to meet elusive production targets on a crucial new model," they report.
  • Asked if the exhaustion was taking a toll on his physical health, Musk said: "It’s not been great, actually. I’ve had friends come by who are really concerned."
  • The Times, citing two people familiar with Tesla's board, report that "Some board members have expressed concern not only about Mr. Musk’s workload but also about his use of Ambien."
  • Musk himself said he uses Ambien to help sleep: “It is often a choice of no sleep or Ambiem."

Go deeper: The USA vs. Elon Musk; Musk's latest tweets are causing Tesla havoc

Go deeper

Updated 16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 20,014,574 — Total deaths: 734,755 — Total recoveries — 12,222,744Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11:30 p.m. ET: 5,089,416 — Total deaths: 163,425 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. Politics: Trump claims he would have not called for Obama to resign over 160,000 virus deathsHouse will not hold votes until Sept. 14 unless stimulus deal is reached.
  4. Business: Richer Americans are more comfortable eating out.
  5. Public health: 5 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — A dual coronavirus and flu threat is set to deliver a winter from hell.
  6. Sports: The cost of kids losing gym class — College football is on the brink.
  7. World: Europe's CDC recommends new restrictions amid "true resurgence in cases."
Updated 2 hours ago - World

Trump admin: Jimmy Lai's arrest marks Beijing's "latest violation" on Hong Kong

Media tycoon Jimmy Lai at the Next Digital offices in Hong Kong in June. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said in a statement Monday night the Trump administration is "deeply troubled" by the arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai on suspicion of "collusion with foreign powers."

Why it matters: The arrest Monday of the most prominent person under the new national security law that gives Beijing more powers over the former British colony comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and China.

A big hiring pledge from New York CEOs

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Leaders of more than two dozen of the New York City area's largest employers — including JPMorgan Chase, Ernst & Young, IBM, McKinsey & Company and Accenture — aim to hire 100,000 low-income residents and people of color by 2030 and will help prep them for tech jobs.

Why it matters: As the city's economy has boomed, many New Yorkers have been left behind — particularly during the pandemic. The hiring initiative marks an unusual pact among firms, some of them competitors, to address systemic unemployment.