Skip to content

Elon Musk’s Biographer Reveals Lack Of Empathy And ‘Demon Mode’

Walter Isaacson's upcoming biography sheds light on Musk's complex personality and fierce determination.

Elon Musk’s biographer says the world’s richest person lacks empathy and even has what he referred to as a “demon mode.”

What To Know: Walter Isaacson has followed Musk closely over the last three years, writing the Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO’s biography. One of his biggest takeaways during that time is that the eccentric billionaire lacks empathy and has a fierce side that he called “demon mode.”

“I’m more impressed with him as an engineer. I think that he does not have a fingertip feel for, you know, empathy, emotions,” Isaacson said Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Isaacson’s comments don’t come as a complete surprise. It’s been reported that Musk has a direct communication style and that you don’t always know what to expect from the billionaire. 

In an Insider report from the beginning of the year, one of the founding employees of SpaceX Jim Cantrell recalled his time spent working alongside Musk. 

“Working with Elon was like working with two different people: the good Elon and the bad Elon, and you never knew which you were going to get,” Cantrell said.

Isaacson told CNBC that a lot of Musk’s faults make him who he is. He is a driven individual and it’s not just about money for him. He’s also impulsive and he will tweet anything that’s in his head, he added. 

Electric car maker Tesla CEO Elon Musk meets with French Minister for the Economy and Finances on the sidelines of the 6th edition of the “Choose France” Summit at the Chateau de Versailles, outside Paris on May 15, 2023. Since 2018, the Choose France Summit seeks to promote France’s economic attractiveness and encourage international investment across the country and brings together hundreds of leaders from the largest multinational corporations. PHOTO BY LUDOVIC MARIN/GETTY IMAGES   

“When you get up very close to a person, as I have for the past three years with him, you understand that person, you understand the motivations. And there are a lot of faults and he has a demon mode that is destructive,” Isaacson said. 

“The question when you write a biography though, is how do you take the dark threads and realize that you can’t just pull them out? He wouldn’t be who he is without both demon mode and his drive.” 

Isaacson’s biography on Musk is set to be released in September. 


Produced in association with Benzinga

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners