Power

A list of Elon Musk’s terrible business ideas

Musk recently said he wants to invent a ranking system for journalists. It’s not his first bad idea.

Power

CANDY
BRICKS
FLAMETHROWERS
Power

A list of Elon Musk’s terrible business ideas

Musk recently said he wants to invent a ranking system for journalists. It’s not his first bad idea.

On Wednesday, Elon Musk said he was going to create a new website “where the public can rate the core truth of each article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.” He decided he’d call it Pravda, after the Soviet Union’s official government newspaper.

Musk, far from being a benevolent billionaire, didn’t come up with this idea to help fix an industry plagued by layoffs and low revenue — he did it because he was mad at journalists who have reported less-than-favorable news about Tesla, including the fact that its factory workers have been seriously injured on the job. (On Monday, Grimes, his new paramour, also jumped in to defend Tesla's labor practices, Tweeting that Musk's reported attempts to block workers from unionizing was "quite literally fake news.”)

But this was not the first time Musk has fired off a tweet about a new company he wants to start that may or may not come to fruition. Here is a non-exhaustive list of Musk’s extremely hairbrained business ideas, some of which he actually followed through with.

A candy company

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted about wanting to start a candy company, an idea he said he was “super super serious” about. Maybe this has something to do with his recent realization that “the plot of Willy Wonka,” a movie in which several children die, “is really messed up.” It seems like this idea is just the result of a very public disagreement with fellow billionaire Warren Buffett, though.

A humor website

Musk is not very good at jokes, but in March, The Daily Beast reported that he poached several staffers from The Onion to launch a humor site called Thud! “It’s pretty obvious that comedy is the next frontier after electric vehicles, space exploration, and brain-computer interfaces,” Musk told the site. “Don’t know how anyone’s not seeing this.” Nothing appears to have come of Thud! yet.

Public transportation

In March, he tweeted about creating an “urban loop system” with “1000’s of small stations the size of a single parking space that take you close to your destination & blend seamlessly into the fabric of the city.” This is also called a bus. I guess it’s different from a bus because he wants it to go underground? That is called a subway.

Dirt bricks

Since Musk is already building a super-fast underground train, he needs something to do with all the dirt he digs up. So he suggested turning that dirt into bricks, and using those bricks, to, uh, build low-income apartments to solve the Los Angeles housing crisis? Compressed earth bricks are already a thing, but architects say they’re more or less useless in a dense city like LA.

A flamethrower

This is real. He already made this. It is a flamethrower, except its name is “Not a flamethrower.” The fire extinguisher is sold separately.

Pravda

According to Musk, no one respects the media anymore because of “the holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie.” His solution? Pravda. Honestly, Pravda is just a reinvented form of Peter Daou’s short-lived website, Verrit, which claimed to combat fake news by posting pro-Democratic infographics and quotes. Verrit launched in September 2017 and was put "on hiatus” so Daou could work on his book. (Daou, for his part, basically said Musk can have Verrit if he wants to fund it.)

Maybe sit this one out, Elon.


Musk, after all, is a very rich man, and like most very rich men, he is probably surrounded by an army of sycophants who tell him he can do anything he puts his mind to. To which I say: Elon Musk, you are very smart, and you should disrupt the higher education system by paying my student loans. Thank you.

Hey you! We want to know what you think about The Outline (and you can win some cool swag too). We know you love to answer questions, so take our 5 minute survey.