Twitter, Tesla, Neuralink, SpaceX: The Week That Ran on Elon Musk Time
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Twitter, Tesla, Neuralink, SpaceX: The Week That Ran on Elon Musk Time

Propensity for ambitious, fuzzy deadlines is now on display at the social-media platform

Mon, Dec 5, 2022 9:09amGrey Clock 4 min

The past week offered a dizzying display of Elon Musk’s multitasking range.

In the space of a few days, he showed off a monkey typing using a brain chip from his Neuralink startup, delivered an all-electric semitrailer from Tesla Inc., planned rocket launches at SpaceX and personally got involved in a high-profile account suspension at Twitter Inc., among much other activity.

It all highlighted an aspect common to Mr. Musk’s ventures, what some closer observers call “Elon Standard Time.”

That somewhat-joking, somewhat-on-the-nose shorthand refers to Mr. Musk’s habit of promising a new product or feature in the near term, which ends up being pushed off to a fuzzy future date—weeks, months or even years later.

Supporters say it is an example of how the world’s richest man motivates his teams to accomplish tasks that might have seemed impossible—such as landing rockets with SpaceX or building Tesla into a profitable electric-car giant.

Mr. Musk, who didn’t respond to a request for comment, in the past attributed his missed deadlines to the same optimism that enables him to take on daunting tasks.

The latest delay happened Friday. Mr. Musk had set that as the tentative date for the relaunch of a beefed-up version of the company’s Twitter Blue subscription service, an effort that could make the platform less reliant on advertising dollars, but as of late Saturday the rollout hadn’t happened.

It was the third scheduling lapse for Twitter Blue since Mr. Musk completed his Twitter acquisition in late October. Advertisers were told by Twitter employees that the relaunch could come this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

Twitter didn’t respond to a request for comment about the subscription service and the deadlines.

Mr. Musk is racing to remake the social-media company as what he calls Twitter 2.0. As part of that, he cut half the workforce, and many other employees left on their own when offered a choice between severance and “long hours at high intensity.” Advertisers are pulling back in the midst of concern about the platform’s content-moderation strategies and the general pace of change, as Twitter faces losses.

This past week was a stark example of all the plates Mr. Musk now has spinning. At Twitter, he also battled with the tech colossus Apple Inc. and personally announced the suspension of Kanye West’s account after the rapper and designer posted an anti-Semitic image.

At Tesla, Mr. Musk came through on one of his big promises with the delivery of the electric truck—albeit three years after he initially said it would arrive.

“Sorry for the delay,” Mr. Musk told a crowd gathered Thursday night for the Semi delivery at Tesla’s factory outside Reno, Nev. “The sheer amount of drama between…five years ago and now is insane. A lot has happened in the world, but here we are, and it is real.”

The night before the Semi celebration, Mr. Musk held an event in Fremont, Calif., for Neuralink to show off the work of his brain-computer company with a video of “telepathic typing” from a monkey that had a Neuralink implant. In 2019, Mr. Musk predicted that the company could begin human testing as soon as 2020. On Thursday, he said it should now be six months away.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., as Mr. Musk’s rocket company is formally known, had more routine delays, postponing a launch planned for this past Thursday using one of its Falcon 9 rockets after conducting additional inspections of the booster and reviewing data, according to a tweet. SpaceX didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The company said Tuesday on Twitter that it conducted another major engine test for Starship, the rocket system it has been developing. While Mr. Musk has discussed possible dates for the first-ever Starship orbital flight, the company hasn’t attempted such a mission yet.

Delays in rocket-development programs aren’t uncommon, and Mr. Musk has made several predictions that have come and gone for his space ambitions.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, has said delays are worth it to ensure that technical goals are met. “We have achieved everything we have wanted to—never in the timeline,” Ms. Shotwell said earlier this year at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “We fail on timeline, but that feels like the right fail to make, as opposed to not achieving what you’re trying to achieve.”

Maikel Mertens, a Tesla owner in the Netherlands, created a parody website in 2019——which makes light of how Mr. Musk’s timelines tend to stretch. He has dubbed his website the “Elon Time Converter,” which jokingly promises to calculate “the time drift between the Elon timezone…and the universal timezone.” A user enters a promised time, and the website cheekily pops out what it might mean. Six months, for example, might be two years.

Some people aren’t laughing. Tesla faced litigation over bullish statements that Mr. Musk made about increasing Model 3 car production only to see months of delays and headaches. Tesla denied wrongdoing, and the lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge, who noted that Mr. Musk had qualified his projections. “Federal securities laws do not punish companies for failing to achieve their targets,” the judge wrote.

In 2018, a Tesla shareholder at the company’s annual meeting asked Mr. Musk about deadlines. “As a long-term investor, I hate to say this, but I feel like my trust in Tesla’s timelines sort of eroded a little bit with the Model 3 ramp,” the man said. “So should I keep discounting things on Elon time or…have you learned anything about this?”

“I do have…an issue with time,” Mr. Musk responded. He said his younger brother, Kimbal Musk, would have to be creative with him as children to catch the bus, telling him it was earlier than it actually was.

Mr. Musk chalked it up to his being a naturally optimistic person, added that he probably wouldn’t have pursued the seemingly impossible effort of breaking into the worlds of car-making and rocket-launching if he were any other way.

“I kind of say when I think it can occur, but then I’m typically optimistic about these things,” he said. “Like it pretty much always happens but not exactly on the time frame.”

—Patience Haggin, Micah Maidenberg and Alexa Corse contributed to this article.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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The Embarrassment of Having to Explain Your ‘Monster’ Diamond Ring

Couples find that lab-grown diamonds make it cheaper to get engaged or upgrade to a bigger ring. But there are rocky moments.

Mon, Dec 11, 2023 4 min

Wedding planner Sterling Boulet has some advice for brides-to-be regarding lab-grown diamonds, which cost a fraction of the natural ones.

“If you’re trying to get your man to propose, they’ll propose faster if you offer this as an option,” says Boulet, of Raleigh, N.C. Recently, she adds, a friend’s fiancé “thanked me the next three times I saw him” for telling him about the cheaper lab-made option.

Man-made diamonds are catching on, despite some lingering stigma. This year was the first time that sales of lab-made and natural mined loose diamonds, primarily used as center stones in engagement rings, were split evenly, according to data from Tenoris, a jewellery and diamond trend-analytics company.

The rise of lab-made stones, however, is bringing up quirks alongside the perks. Now that blingier engagement rings—above two or three carats—are more affordable, more people are dealing with the peculiarities of wearing rather large rocks.

An engagement ring made with a lab-grown diamond at Ada Diamonds in New York City. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Esther Hare, a 5-foot-11-inch former triathlete, sought out a 4.5-carat lab-made oval-shaped diamond to fit her larger hands as a part of her vow renewal in Hawaii last year. It was a far cry from the half-carat ring her husband proposed with more than 25 years ago and the 1.5-carat upgrade they purchased 10 years ago. Hare, 50, who lives in San Jose, Calif., and works in high tech, chose a $40,000 lab-made diamond because “it’s nuts” to have to spend $100,000 on a natural stone. “It had to be big—that was my vision,” she says.

But the size of the ring has made it less practical at times. She doesn’t wear it for athletic training and swaps in her wedding band instead. And she is careful to leave it at home when traveling. “A lot of times I won’t take it on vacation because it’s just a monster,” she says.

The average retail price for a one-carat lab-made loose diamond decreased to $1,426 this year from $3,039 in 2020, according to the Tenoris data. Similar-sized loose natural diamonds cost $5,426 this year, compared with $4,943 in 2020.

Lab-made diamonds have essentially the same chemical makeup as natural ones, and look the same, unless viewed through sophisticated equipment that gauges the characteristics of emitted light.

At Ritani, an online jewellery retailer, lab-made diamond sales make up about 70% of the diamonds sold, up from roughly 30% two years ago, says Juliet Gomes, head of customer service at the company, based in White Plains, N.Y.

Ritani sometimes records videos of the lab-diamonds pinging when exposed to a “diamond tester,” a tool that judges authenticity, to show customers that the man-made rocks behave the same as natural ones. We definitely have some deep conversations with them,” Gomes says.

Not all gem dealers are rolling with these stones.

Philadelphia jeweller Steven Singer only stocks the natural stuff in his store and is planning a February campaign to give about 1,000 one-carat lab-made diamonds away free to prove they are “worthless.” Anyone can sign up online and get one in the mail; even shipping is free. “I’m not selling Frankensteins that were built in a lab,” Singer says.

Some brides are turned off by the larger bling now allowed by the lower prices.When her now-husband proposed with a two-carat lab-grown engagement ring, Tiffany Buchert, 40, was excited about the prospect of marriage—but not about the size of the diamond, which she says struck her as “costume jewellery-ish.”

“I said yes in the moment, of course, I didn’t want it to be weird,” says the physician assistant from West Chester, Pa.

But within weeks, she says, she fessed up, telling her fiancé: “I think I hate this ring.”

The couple returned it and then bought a one-carat natural diamond for more than double the price.

Couples find that lab-grown diamonds have made it more affordable to get engaged. PHOTO: CAM POLLACK/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

When Boulet, the wedding planner in Raleigh, got engaged herself, she was over the moon when her fiancé proposed with a 2.3 carat lab-made diamond ring. “It’s very shiny, we were almost worried it was too shiny and was going to look fake,” she says.

It doesn’t, which presents another issue—looking like someone who really shelled out for jewellery. Boulet will occasionally volunteer that her diamond ring came from a lab.

“I don’t want people to think I’m putting on airs, or trying to be flashier than I am,” she says.

For Daniel Teoh, a 36-year-old software engineer outside of Detroit, buying a cheaper lab-made diamond for his fiancée meant extra room in his $30,000 ring budget.

Instead of a bigger ring, he got her something they could both enjoy. During a walk while on an annual ski trip to South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Teoh popped the question and handed his now-wife a handmade wooden box that included a 2.5-carat lab-made diamond ring—and a car key.

She put on the ring, celebrated with both of their sisters and a friend, who was the unofficial photographer of the happy event, and then they drove back to the house. There, she saw a 1965 Mustang GT coupe in Wimbledon white with red stripes and a bow on top.

Looking back, Teoh says, it was still the diamond that made the big first impression.

“It wasn’t until like 15 minutes later she was like ‘so, what’s with this key?’” he adds.


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