Eccentric billionaire, Start-Up giant and maverick businessman Elon Musk sipped whiskey and smoked marijuana during a 2 1/2-hour podcast with California comedian Joe Rogan that touched upon everything from flame throwers and artificial intelligence to the end of the universe.
“I’m not a regular smoker of weed,” the Tesla Inc. chief executive officer said late Thursday on the podcast, which was shown live on the internet. Musk, 47, took one drag from what Rogan described as a joint containing tobacco mixed with marijuana, which is legal in California.
A Tesla spokesperson in Germany wasn’t immediately available to comment. Shares of the carmaker fell 9% percent in trading before U.S. exchanges
The spot on one of the most popular podcasts in the U.S. marks Musk’s first appearance in a public forum since he stunned the financial world last month with his short-lived effort to take Tesla private. Just 17 days after tweeting that he had the funding and investor support secured to buy out some stockholders at $420 a share, the billionaire scrapped the idea without having made a formal proposal to the board.
Along the way, Musk drew a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission, which already had been scrutinizing the public pronouncements he’s made regarding manufacturing goals and sales targets. Tesla and its CEO are now also facing a litany of lawsuits claiming market manipulation, including one filed Thursday by Andrew Left, the founder of Citron Research and prominent short seller.
The episode also raised concern about Musk’s health. The chairman and CEO of both Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., among other companies, gave an emotional interview to the New York Times in which he said friends were worried about exhaustion. The newspaper said two people familiar with the electric-car maker’s board expressed concern about his workload and use of the prescription sleeping drug Ambien.
The bewildering incidents have played out during a critical period for Tesla. The Palo Alto, California-based company faces concerns about its limited cash balance, maturing debt and struggle to steadily build high volumes of the Model 3 sedan, the first electric vehicle that Musk has attempted to mass-manufacture.
Musk told Rogan that running Tesla is the hardest of his several endeavors. “It’s very difficult to keep a car company alive,” Musk said.
Musk is also the founder of the tunneling startup Boring Co., plus Neuralink, which is developing brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers. Neuralink may have something interesting to announce in a few months, Musk told Rogan.