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Elon Musk vs. Twitter Part II: Empire of Risk

How It Happened


Politics, News, History

4.84.6K Ratings

🗓️ 4 October 2022

⏱️ 29 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


How It Happened: Elon Musk vs. Twitter Part II: Empire of Risk explores how Musk's philosophy on risk brings people far beyond his consumers and employees into the experiments he runs. Axios reporters Joann Muller and Miriam Kramer draw on years of reporting on Tesla and SpaceX respectively to detail how risk fits into Musk's framework at these companies. The episode also features interviews with people who have known Musk for years, who have watched him across his career. The episode explores how Musk's risk tolerance has allowed him to innovate in ways no one else has — and the costs that come with that. Credits: This series was reported by the Axios newsroom including Erica Pandey, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, Dan Primack, Miriam Kramer, Joann Muller, Javier E. David, Jonathan Swan, Sara Fischer, Ina Fried and Hope King. Fact-checking by Jacob Knutson. Erica Pandey hosts. Amy Pedulla is reporter-producer. Naomi Shavin is senior producer. Scott Rosenberg and Alison Snyder are the series editors. Sara Kehaulani Goo is the Editor-in-Chief and executive producer. Mixing and sound design by Ben O'Brien. Music supervision by Alex Sugiura. Theme music and original score by Michael Hanf. Special thanks to Axios co-founders Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei and Roy Schwartz. Thanks to Zach Basu, Lucia Orejarena, Priyanka Vora, and Brian Westley.

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Hi, I'm Erica Pandy, host of this season of How It Happened.


If there's one word that describes how Elon Musk conducts himself as a leader, it's




He says it himself.


At anything which is significantly innovative is going to come with a significant risk of




The kind of groundbreaking futuristic innovation Musk has accomplished seems to demand an enormous


appetite for risk, or at least a very high tolerance for it.


I mean, if the outcome is exciting enough, then taking a big risk is worthwhile.


But Musk's evaluation of risk doesn't just have consequences for him, or even for his


investors. Because of the sheer scope of his influence in so many consequential spheres,


think transportation, space, telecommunications, when he takes a risk, he can also drag


others along for the ride.


His employees, his customers, and the people who interact with his products, willingly


or not.


This pattern has been to take the risk, take the leap, try the new thing, and learn from


failure to fix it.


He's done this with rocket launches, and with the rollout of Tesla's self-driving software.


In April, Musk said he was buying Twitter, and then tried to back out, setting up a legal


battle with the social platform.


If he loses and is forced to buy Twitter, Musk will be in control of the company.


It raises a question.


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