No Toilet Paper Unless Critical: Musk, CFO to Approve "Literally" Every Expense


Tesla so badly needs cash that Musk will personally review and sign every tenth payment. The CFO will look at them all.

On May 13, in Tesla Can't Spare a Dime, the Wall Street Journal commented "Elon Musk’s electric-vehicle pioneer is running out of cash and out of time, even after a recent capital increase."

The full extent of that article became readily apparent on Friday in an Email that Elon Musk sent to all employees. MSN posted the Full Email to Employees.

Key Quotes

  • It is important to bear in mind that we lost $700 million in the first quarter this year, which is over $200 million per month.
  • Investors nonetheless were supportive of our efforts and agreed to give us $2.4 billion (our net proceeds) to show that we can be financially sustainable. That is a lot of money, but actually only gives us approximately ten months at the first-quarter burn rate to achieve breakeven.
  • Going forward, all expenses of any kind anywhere in the world, including parts, salary, travel expenses, rent, literally every payment that leaves our bank account must be reviewed, confirmed as critical and the top of every page of outgoing payments signed by our CFO.
  • I will personally review and sign every 10th page.

Musk's Time

Tesla is so desperate for cash that every part, salary, travel expense, "literally every payment", no matter how trivial, needs to be signed off by the CFO, with Musk reviewing every tenth Item.

How much time will CFO and Musk spend approving parts, salaries, pencils, and even toilet paper? Shouldn't salaries be set?

Taken literally, but that was Musk's word, no toilet paper will be approved unless it's critical. Presumably, Musk will sign off on every tenth roll.

By phrasing the memo the way he did, Musk shows how desperate Tesla is for cash despite a $2.4 billion cash infusion.

What about the prior lies? Didn't Musk pledge to make money every quarter going forward?

Instead of a profit, Musk is reviewing and approving office supplies including pencils, pens, and toilet paper, literally.

Unless its stamped "critical" there won't be any. That is how the memo actually reads.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (23)
No. 1-15

Sounds like you want to sneak expenses through on pages 1-9 because Musk is only going to read the 10th page! And maybe Musk could move his office to the bathroom so he can personally wipe everyone's arse with his left hand. That should save some money.


It seems like Musk is doing the right thing, albeit a little late. When your expenses are bringing the company down, you try to create a culture that every dollar is important. I think investors should be pleased with this new attitude. Employees less so.



Absolutely micromanagement on a grand scale. The memo should have been simple. Monitor all expenses and eliminate anything not absolutely critical. - something like that - perhaps offer rewards for ideas that eliminate the most - managers not eligible


I'd think history would bear out that (particularly for a "growth" company) that when the expense side of the income statement starts drawing more attention than the revenue side of I/S a company is in decline. Is it selling like "hot potatoes", or just burning your hands? Musk delcares "no s***"! (puns intended)