Early Partners Criticize Musk: Publicly Underestimating The Outbreak Should Apologize

Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, a global payment platform, has criticised the likes of former venture partner Elon Musk for helping more during the new coronavirus outbreak,media reported. Previously, these people had suspected the severity of the outbreak.

More than 160,000 confirmed cases in the United States have now killed more than 3,000 people from new coronary pneumonia.

Early Partners Criticize Musk: Publicly Underestimating The Outbreak Should Apologize

Picture: PayPal co-founder Max Levchin

“Anyone who underestimates the impact of this outbreak may be embarrassed by what they have said,” Levchen said in an interview on Monday, local time. “Levchen co-founded a company at the age of 23 and eventually became PayPal.

As chief executives of Tesla and SpaceX, Musk initially downplayed the serious impact of the new coronavirus outbreak. He called it “stupid” to panic about the virus and predicted that over-reaction would do more harm than the outbreak itself before starting to help by donating masks to hospital staff and buying ventilators.

Musk has said Tesla can help most by buying ventilators and helping to deliver more efficiently. Although he said he had held engineering discussions with ventilator maker Medtronic on March 21, it was unclear whether Tesla or SpaceX would play a role in making much-needed medical equipment.

“The spirit of Silicon Valley is real, and with good ideas, we know how to mobilize, motivate, break through barriers and make a difference,” said Levchen, who is now chief executive of the fintech company Affirm. In that sense, if Musk were going to build a ventilator, he would certainly build a lot, and the quality might be very good. “

The media said Musk, like the general public, could express his views on the new coronavirus outbreak in his way, but his views and orientation had greater influence. He can be held accountable for this, but he can also be irresponsible, it’s up to him.

Musk has said it would be “stupid.”

So what did Musk say before? How does it spark controversy?

Government officials around the world have warned of the potentially catastrophic effects of the virus, and U.S. governments are asking the public to reduce social activities to curb the spread of the virus, but Musk called it “stupid” to do so, tweeting to calm people.

Several counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, issued a “sanctuary order” on March 16th, taking the “city-blocking” measure. But on March 17th Musk ignored calls to close his Fremont plant in the region. It wasn’t until the afternoon of March 19 that Tesla announced that it would suspend production at the plant on March 23.

In the past, Musk’s false statements have caused him trouble, such as a 2018 tweet that he would privatize Tesla, sparking an FBI investigation. That said, Musk sent some unusual tweets during the current outbreak, and strangely, whether it was for himself or for the public.

Musk is a dazzling public figure. In addition to Tesla, he is the founder of SpaceX, and many consider him one of the most forward-looking tech figures of our time.

Because people respect him and heed his advice, what Musk says and does is important. If he ignores the dangers of the new coronavirus outbreak, others will follow suit. What’s more, he’s in charge of factories with thousands of people, and when it comes to putting employees to work from home and production must comply with epidemic prevention rules, he has taken a different approach from other tech executives: boycotts and disobedience.

Spreading and fatality rates are “exaggerated”

On March 6, he posted his first tweet about the new coronavirus, saying, “It’s stupid to panic about the coronavirus.” “

In early March, Americans were less worried about the outbreak, but there were plenty of signs that things were not good. A cruise ship moored near California has been found to have a passenger infection. The situation in Italy is becoming more and more serious, and there are growing concerns about the outbreak in Washington and other states. Many events and conferences around the world were cancelled.

Musk’s view at the time was similar to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, who thought the U.S. would be safe.

In a March 8 tweet, Musk further reiterated his position that the current response to the virus was “stupid” and that the spread and fatality of the coronavirus was “exaggerated” because the number of people tested was small. As for the cruise ship, he said there were “a lot of people on board, but there was a serious problem with a shortage of medical facilities.” “

On March 9th, when the U.S. stock market fell, he tweeted that the stock market “is a bit high anyway” and “should pull back.”

On March 10th, when the Coachella music festival was postponed, he advised not to postpone it. On the same day, he launched a poll on Twitter about whether Tesla should have an underground club, the Mega Rave Cave. The survey is said to have been agreed by many people.

On March 13, he told SpaceX employees that a car crash was more frightening than a coronavirus.

Ignoring the “in-place asylum order”

On March 16, Musk tweeted that the antimalarial drug chloroquine was considered a potential treatment for the new coronavirus.

At this point, Musk seems to be collecting information about the new corona virus and starting to think of the dangers of the outbreak, as state and county governments begin to force the closure of business units, the stock market plummets, and it is becoming increasingly clear that “social segregation” is becoming a new rule, and that it will be enforced for weeks, maybe months.

But until March 16th, Musk still believed panic was the real enemy and underestimated the horrors of the pandemic. His tweet that day insisted that “the danger of panic still far outweighs the dangers of coronaviruses”.

On March 17th, when companies across the U.S. enforced the rules for employees working from home, Tesla asked its Fremont, California, plant to keep it open, ignoring the government’s “in-place asylum order.”

“I’m very clear that if you feel a little uncomfortable, don’t feel obligated to work,” Musk said in a March 16 email to employees. Personally I will go to work, but that’s just me. If you want to stay at home for a reason, you can. “It’s a step up from the earlier e-mails he sent to employees.

Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant is not engaged in a “basic business” and must be shut down under the In-Place Asylum Order. Tesla finally announced on March 19that that it would temporarily close its car plant in Fremont, California, starting March 24, local time. At the same time, Tesla will suspend most operations at its solar cell plant in Buffalo, New York. Subsequently, the Nevada battery plant was closed for 14 days and cut 75 percent of its workforce.

But long ago, Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler announced that they would suspend production at their North American plants until at least the end of the month.

And Tesla isn’t completely shut down. During this period, Tesla plans to retrofit the production line for the Fremont plant to achieve better production capacity levels and increase Model Y production.

Production of medical ventilators

In the end, Musk felt he should do something about the outbreak. He tweeted on March 18 that Tesla would work with General Motors and Ford to produce medical ventilators, and said he was talking to New York Mayor Bill Des to build a ventilator if there was a shortage.

In the end he did what he wanted. On March 22nd the U.S. government announced that Tesla, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. would be “approved” to produce ventilators to help the U.S. alleviate a shortage of ventilators during the new corona pneumonia epidemic. Mr Musk then said the company would reopen its New York superplant “as soon as possible” to produce ventilators.

In addition, he has purchased 1,255 ventilators from China and has arranged to airlift them to Los Angeles to help treat local patients with new coronavirus pneumonia.

But employees at his two companies were not spared, with two Tesla employees who had been working from home for nearly two weeks infected with the new coronavirus, and a SpaceX employee and an outside health care worker diagnosed with the new coronavirus, and at least 12 people were asked to go home and quarantine.

Much of Tesla’s work is unlikely to be done at home compared to other Internet companies such as Google and Facebook. It may also be why Musk so wants the plant to start, downplaying the outbreak. But it’s not too late if he changes his course now and encourages his fans to do the same.