Proudly unconventional entrepreneur Elon Musk spent most of an online interview, streamed live Thursday night, pontificating and joking around with podcast host Joe Rogan, who showered him with adulation for his brilliance.
But headlines on Friday fixated on the few seconds of the interview that the Tesla chief spent smoking marijuana and sipping on Whiskey, the optics of which amplified an already bad headline day for his company.
The resignations of two senior executives, Tesla’s chief accounting officer, Dave Morton, and the firm’s head of HR, Gabrielle Toledano, were made public on Friday, adding to a long list of high profile departures from the firm.
Morton’s exit was revealed in a regulatory filing, in which he cited “the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company,” as reasons for leaving after less than a month on the job.
Toledano told Bloomberg she would not return to the firm after a leave of absence, following a similar decision made over the summer by Tesla’s head of vehicle programs, Doug Field.
While the signal sent by the string of resignations was more concrete evidence of disfunction, Musk’s decision to smoke pot on a live stream added fuel to swirling speculation that the executive’s erratic behavior in recent months was influenced by drug use.
Shares of Tesla fell as much as 10% amid the hazy cloud of headlines, marking yet another instance of the controversial Musk giving ammunition to his detractors in the interest of cultivating an offbeat public persona.