The rockets did not launch. Financing for Tesla’s startup was short-circuiting. And his marriage was on the rocks.
That is how Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk looks back on the time around 2008, calling it a “nightmare year,” according to Fox Business.
Tesla produced its first cars in 2008, a year marked by the Great Recession. As CNBC has noted, Musk recalled that at the time — when electric vehicles were far from mainstream — Tesla was marginalized as “making toys for rich people”
“Technically I was CEO from mid-2007, officially CEO in late-2008,” Musk said. “Man, that was a lot of drama. That was a nightmare year.”
SpaceX was having trouble getting off the ground — literally.
“Partway through that year, SpaceX had failed its third launch, and I only ever thought we had money for three launches. We were zero for three launches with SpaceX,” Musk said.
”I messed up the first three launches; the first three launches failed. Fortunately the fourth launch — that was the last money that we had — the fourth launch worked, or that would have been it for SpaceX. But fate liked us that day,” Musk said in 2017, according to ScienceAlert.
”We started with just a few people who didn’t really know how to make rockets. The reason I ended up being the chief engineer … was not because I wanted to, it’s because I couldn’t hire anyone. Nobody good would join,” he said.
In addition to the pressures of work, his home life was suffering.
“My marriage had fallen apart, so I’m getting divorced,” Musk said. “The Tesla financing round was falling apart, and we’re nowhere near production. And we have the Great Recession.”
“Good times,” he said. “Extremely brutal to say the least — the lowest of the lows.”
“Even as recently as early 2013, we were operating with maybe one to two weeks of money,” Musk said, according to Observer.
That was a crazy tough year. Tesla financing closed at 6pm Christmas Eve – last hour of the last day possible. Payroll would otherwise have bounced two days after Christmas.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2021
But 2008 turned around at the end.
“Fortunately, the fourth launch of SpaceX reached orbit,” Musk said. “If that fourth launch had failed, SpaceX would be dead, for sure. And then we closed the Tesla financing round on the last hour of the last day that it was possible, which was 6 p.m., Dec. 24, 2008. Crazy.”
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