Elon Musk
Elon Musk says he never wanted to be a CEO of Tesla or anything. Wikimedia Commons

Although he plays a pivotal role in his companies SpaceX and Tesla Inc., Elon Musk has never shied away from admitting that he likes focusing on product development and technology more than being a corporate leader.

It is no secret that Musk, who is recognised as one of the most influential figures in 21st-century business, is more passionate about innovation and technological advancement than corporate dominance.

Musk's career began when he founded a technology company called Zip2 Corp with his brother Kimbal Musk in the late 90s. However, the tech mogul wasn't appointed as the CEO of this company, which offered business directories and maps for newspapers.

He then went on to establish an online financial services and email payment company called X.com, which later evolved into PayPal Inc. In the early phase of his career, Musk faced multiple challenges in terms of leading the company.

During a 2020 episode of the "Third Row Tesla" podcast, Musk opened up about his initial reluctance to become CEO of Tesla. Despite admitting that he tried not to become CEO of Tesla, Musk said: "This is misinterpreted like I somehow don't love Tesla, which I do, it's just like trying not to go insane with work."

After test-driving the electric sports car Tzero in 2003, Musk decided to commercialise it in collaboration with automobile company AC Propulsion. However, an offer to team up with Tesla redirected his path.

In 2004, Musk invested in the (electric vehicle) EV maker. After a major internal strife regarding the decision to appoint a CEO, founder Martin Eberhard eventually took the helm.

Elon Musk initially struggled to lead Tesla, X.com

Tesla's early years under Eberhard's leadership were full of unpleasant things such as technical difficulties with prototypes and budget overruns. As a result, Eberhard decided to step down as the CEO of the company, Before Musk decided to lead the company in October 2008, several interim CEOs were appointed.

Musk, who was dedicated to Tesla's vision, spared no effort to navigate the company through its tumultuous period. It is safe to say he successfully demonstrated his skills as the company's chief executive. He recently even teased the arrival of new Tesla products.

Interestingly, the billionaire noted that he never wanted to be the CEO of X.com (now PayPal) while responding to a tweet that highlighted how he was replaced by a more experienced executive in 2000.

"This must have been very hard and painful," the tweet said. "I believe you were a victim of politics. Could you please shed more light into the event?"

In response, Musk said he never even wanted to be a CEO. "I just wanted to work on product/technology," Musk explained. "Running companies hurts my heart. But I don't see any other way to bring technology and design to fruition," he added.

After acquiring Twitter (now X) in 2022 for $44 billion (about £35 billion), Musk announced that Linda Yaccarino would be the new CEO of the social media platform in 2023. Musk said that Yaccarino will handle business operations, while he will deviate his focus to working on product design and new technology.