CC#8: Elon Musk on the GOOD TIME Show (Ft. guest appearance from Vlad, CEO of Robinhood)
Elon talks Neuralink & Tesla, his typical day, cryptocurrency and randomly "interrogates" Vlad from Robinhood about the events that unfolded in the past week.
It started with Elon talking Neuralink. He mentioned they will have a video coming out in the next month or so showing some of the progress they’ve made. He mentioned they actually currently have a monkey with a Neuralink chip that is playing videogames, and “you can see he’s enjoying himself”. When the inspector came, she mentioned that it was the nicest monkey facility she had ever seen. Elon said “We went the extra mile for the monkies!”
The conversation then flowed into a topic that has been circulating in the past week after the Robinhood incident (more on this later): Bitcoin. In fact, Elon actually changed his Twitter bio to #bitcoin on Thursday. When asked about it, he said “I think bitcoin is a very good thing. I’m a supporter. I should’ve got in 8 years ago when my friends first advised me to. I literally had a close friend of mine make me a Bitcoin cake. What more could be done to persuade a person?!” Elon also recently tweeted about Dogecoin, a “meme-coin” known for the its funny Shiba Inu icon, so he was asked about that as well. Elon replied that he was just messing around “although it would be really funny if the most ironic thing that could happen—Dogecoin becoming the official, mainstream cryptocurrency that is used by the general public—actually became a reality.”
Shifting gears a bit, Sriram and Aarthi confessed that they own a Tesla Model S and asked Elon about the future of Tesla.. He said the current goal is to get Tesla to produce 20m EVs (Electric Vehicles) per year “There are about 2 billion cars on the road globally, and in order to make a real impact, we need to at least replace 1% of those per year with EVs. Our current limiting factor is that our suppliers are at production capacity. So we’re going to build our own factory to keep up with the demand.” The subsequent questions pertained to Elon’s work schedule. “What does a typical day look like for you?” asked Aarthi. Elon replied “I wake up and then I look through my texts and emails to see if theres any emergencies, and a lot of times there are. It’s like chores—you have to do your chores.” He said he’s having a limbic reaction to email—in other words, he doesn’t like email very much. He prefers to text and above all he prefers in-person meetings. He replies to anything urgent and then begins his daily meetings—mostly engineering and design related, but sometimes finance, sales and other things that are necessary. “There’s a lot of context switching—which isn’t necessarily good. I think focusing on one thing for an hour is more effective. It’s hard to keep switching back and forth between Tesla and SpaceX.
Sriram brought up that Marc Andreessen likes to leave empty space on his calendar to refresh and think creatively. He asked Elon if he does anything like this. “I don’t have a lot of open space - back to back meetings, it’s actually insane. I don’t recommend it. Sometimes I wonder how long I can keep this up for—it’s like my brain is being flooded with information. I don’t want my brain to explode. I was thinking at some point I should take a week off to clear my mind, maybe write a book of my experiences and some advice that might be helpful for others.”
The co-hosts were curious about the rumors of Elon sleeping on the floor in his Tesla factory. They asked if he still does this. “I only sleep on the floor of my factory if there’s some sort of emergency. Usually it'‘ll be in the open where people can see me, because seeing is believing. I ask people to go all out, and I can’t expect them to do it if I don’t. When they see that I’m willing to take that level of pain, they’ll do it too.”
Elon was asked about his thoughts on California and its current situation. To which he replied “I love california and have lived more than half my life here. I built my companies here. I actually came to silicon valley way back in 1992 to intern for an energy storage startup called Pinnacle Research. I actually tried to get a job at Netscape [in reference to Marc Andreessen’s internet company] —I sent in my resume. I tried hanging out in the lobby but I was too shy to speak with anyone, so I just started writing stuff for myself”
Marc, one of the world’s top VCs (a16z), replied “The next time you show up to one of my companies looking for an internship, you’re going to get the internship.”
This had gone a bit over time and as they were wrapping up, Elon asked if he could get Vlad Tenev, co-founder & CEO of Robinhood, to explain the events that unfolded in the past week. “Spill the beans; the people want to know the truth!” demanded Elon.
After introducing himself and briefly talking about Robinhood’s background, he began explaining. “I woke up at 3:30am on Thursday to an emergency. An SEC-registered clearinghouse raised our deposit requirement for equities by 10-fold due to the unprecedented purchasing volume on our platform. Initially they told us we needed to deposit $3b—we called and got them to lower it to $1.4B by proposing to them we would mark the stocks affected “sell only”. An hour before the market opened on Thursday, the clearinghouse called us letting us know we needed to deposit $700m before the market opened. We didn’t want to block buys and sells, because that would’ve been worse. People would’ve freaked out if they couldn’t sell their holdings.”
He elaborated “What’s not clear to a lot of people is that we are a participant in the financial system. This system involves a complex web of parties, and this is what allows our customers to buy and sell shares on our platform. There’s a rumor going around that Citadel, or other market makers, pressured us into doing this, and that’s just false. This was a clearinghouse decision, just based on the capital requirements.”
I will refrain from giving my opinion on the matter, but I did want to add a few additional pieces of information. This show (GOOD TIME), in a sense, is put on by a16z—partners Marc Andreessen and Steven Sinofsky are almost always present on the virtual stage. The firm, who was an early investor in Clubhouse, also invested in Robinhood during one of their recent raises. Additionally, it was both Elon Musk’s and Vlad Tenev’s first times using the clubhouse app, meaning it’s likely there was some planning behind the scenes for this to happen.
Regardless, this was an incredible session. I want to thank Sriram and Aarthi for the incredible job they’re doing with this show and I want to congratulate them on the success. I tried to join the room at 10:01pm PST, and there were already over 5800 people; the capacity for a room on clubhouse is 5000. I was not able to join, but fortunately, there were at least 2-3 other rooms streaming the interview. At least 2 of these were also full during the interview. And yes, a big part of that was because of Elon Musk, but the cohosts are still extraordinary.