Elon Musk is 'a jerk' and 'not caring' – but shares some traits with Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, his biographer says

Elon Musk is 'a jerk' and 'not caring' – but shares some traits with Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, his biographer says
Elon Musk in Washington DC this month.Nathan Howard/Getty Images
  • Elon Musk is a "jerk," his biographer Walter Isaacson told Quartz.
  • He also drew comparisons between Musk, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos' "hardcore" leadership styles.

Elon Musk is a "jerk" because he's "not empathetic" and "not caring", according to his biographer Walter Isaacson.

The writer, whose book was published this week, seemed to suggest that those qualities were not necessarily bad for business leaders.

Isaacson told Quartz that "caring and emotional" executives could hold back a company because "they aren't going to fire people, they aren't going to be tough, they aren't going to be rough."

The author compared Musk with Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos and said they'd also taken a "hardcore" approach to running Microsoft and Amazon.

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Gates has admitted he was "overly intense" and had a "narrow view" of working styles in the early days of Microsoft. In an interview with an AI chatbot alongside UK prime minister Rishi Sunak in February, the billionaire said he "didn't believe in weekends" or taking a vacation back then.

"I don't necessarily admire it, but it is part and parcel of what they were able to do, and it was because they kept the success of the enterprise in view, as opposed to the friendliness and sweetness to the people in front of them," Isaacson told Quartz.


The biographer, who followed Musk for two years, told CNBC in July he "does not have a fingertip feel" for emotions.

He doubled down on his reading of the X owner in an interview with the Financial Times this week by saying Musk's takeover of Twitter was "insane".

"Musk doesn't have empathy and so Twitter was not a good fit for him," he told the newspaper.

Elon Musk didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.