Elon Musk ‘really angry’ if employees weren’t still working at 9 p.m.

Elon Musk would wander the halls of the first tech startup he launched in the 1990s and get “really angry” if his employees weren’t still in their cubicles working at 9 p.m., according to one of his former staffers.

Jim Ambras, who worked as a vice president under Musk when the mogul ran the now-defunct software company Zip2, told a BBC News documentary that his boss’s face would “turn red” when he realized that the “entire company” wasn’t in the office at that hour.

Ambras was interviewed by the BBC for its series “The Elon Musk Story,” which was cited by Insider. The first episode of the series aired in the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

Ambras told the British TV network that Musk would spend his evening hours “looking to see who was sitting at their cubes, and there weren’t many people sitting at their cubes — it was 9 p.m.”

“And his face turned red, he was really angry that the entire company wasn’t there in the office at 9 o’clock at night,” Ambras said.

Musk and his brother, Kimbal, founded Zip2 in 1995. The company provided online city guide software to newspapers.

In 1999, the Musk brothers sold the firm to Compaq for $37 million, according to Musk biographer Ashlee Vance, who wrote “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” in 2015.

Jim Ambras, who worked as a vice president for Zip2, made the revelation to the BBC.

The BBC also interviewed former Zip2 systems engineer Branden Spikes, who recalled that Musk would often work late and sleep under his desk.

Spikes also referred to Musk as an “unusual fellow” and a “know-it-all” who thought he knew “just about everything about everything.”

The anecdotes relayed by Ambras and Spikes are consistent with reports that the hard-charging Musk has demanded that employees of his electric car maker, Tesla, return to the workplace.

Last month, CNBC cited company sources within Tesla as saying that Musk and his senior management staff were collecting badge swipe information to ensure employees complied with his edict to work a minimum of 40 hours per week at the Fremont, Calif., facility.

Musk, the world’s richest man whose portfolio includes Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, Neuralink, and perhaps Twitter, has also been a vocal critic of remote work, which came into vogue due to coronavirus lockdown measures that forced offices to close.

In June, Musk told employees of Twitter that it is “much better if you are on location physically.”

Musk and Twitter are in the process of negotiating a $44 billion acquisition — averting a court case initiated by the social media company after the mogul attempted to back out of an earlier buyout agreement.

Zip2 was a Palo Alto-based software startup founded by Musk and his brother, Kimbal.
Zip2 was a Palo Alto-based software startup founded by Musk and his brother Kimbal.
Wayback Machine

The BBC documentary delves into Musk’s life. Musk left South Africa at the age of 17 and relocated to Canada. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a bachelor in physics and economics in 1995.

The year after Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq, he used money from the sale to co-found X.com, an online bank that eventually merged with Confinity.

The newly created entity was renamed PayPal, which was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

That same year, Musk founded SpaceX, the space exploration company.

In 2004, Musk joined Tesla as chairman of the board before eventually becoming CEO in 2008.

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