Elon Musk: 'I May Not Be Tesla's CEO Forever'

Nov 22, 2014 10:20 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma


Elon Musk never fails to be a hot topic in the technology industry and beyond. In a recent interview, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX gave a glimpse of his five-year plan--which may include stepping down as chief executive of the electric automaker.

Musk plans to stay Tesla's CEO for at least three or four more years as the company launches the upcoming Model 3 and builds a lithium-ion "gigafactory" in Nevada, AutoBlog.com reported via the German outlet Auto Bild. But once those projects are completed, all bets are off.

"I will never leave Tesla forever, but I may not be CEO forever," Musk told Auto Bild. "Nobody should be CEO forever."

So what does Musk look for when he's hiring? "Evidence of exceptional ability" and "a track record of exceptional achievement" rank higher in importance than a college degree, he told Auto Bild.

"If you look at, say, people like Bill Gates or Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, these guys didn't graduate from college, but if you had a chance to hire them, of course that would be a good idea."

The interview is an unusually personal look into Musk, with the Tesla executive talking about his tendency to over-caffeinate and his sleep schedule (he rises early around 7 a.m., but usually doesn't get to bed until after 1 a.m.).

When asked how much of himself he puts into his Tesla and SpaceX ventures, Musk said, "I certainly have a strong influence, but there are many people at the companies."

Tesla just passed a workforce of 10,000 people, while SpaceX has 4,000 employees, he said.

"It is a big team effort from a lot of talented people."

Musk could have been CEO of Tesla Motors "from day one," he told Auto Bild, but he "tried really hard not to." Initially, he thought he would put around 20 to 30 percent of his time into the electric car company.

"Tesla ended up being much more," he said.

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