Elon Musk is attracting attention these days as the owner of Twitter with a rabid leadership style.

He has drastically cut staff and drummed the rest of his employees into working "extremely hardcore" if they want to stay with the company.

Such tones are not alien to Tobias Duschl.

He knows her from his almost seven years at Tesla, the electric car manufacturer also managed by Musk.

Roland Lindner

Business correspondent in New York.

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He remembers constantly working under high pressure, with phases in which he felt "in an artificial flow state", completely fixated on his tasks.

“Sometimes for months I dialed into the first conferences at seven in the morning and wrote the last e-mails at eleven in the evening, regardless of anything around me,” he says.

It was always particularly extreme before the end of a quarter, with a view to being able to present good numbers to Wall Street.

Duschl describes a working atmosphere in which one could never feel safe.

"You're always under pressure to deliver, and if you don't deliver, it can be over quickly." Musk is not a boss from whom you can expect loyalty, employees are interchangeable for him.

At the same time, he sets the bar very high for himself and works with an energy that Duschl still finds impressive today.

"No one has as much stamina as he does."

After a few years with Musk, many managers have had enough

Like many other Tesla managers before and after him, the native German eventually saw himself at a point where he had had enough.

In 2018 he left the car manufacturer, on the one hand because the workload became too much for him in the long run, on the other hand because Tesla seemed too big to him and he wanted to work for a smaller company again.

Today, 40-year-old Duschl is CEO himself and runs Vinci, a start-up with which he intends to establish new business models for musicians and other cultural workers.

Compared to today, Tesla was a very different and much more tranquil company when Duschl joined in 2012.

At that time there was only one model, the sleek and also very expensive "Roadster" sports car, whose buyers included Hollywood stars and young billionaires in Silicon Valley. The "Model S" sedan, intended for a wider audience, came shortly after its entry .

Back then, Tesla was “like a big warehouse with a few hundred people and a lot of shouting,” says Duschl. Every time a Roadster was sold, a gong was ceremoniously struck and everyone applauded.

For him, Musk was just the "Big Boss" and not the super-rich star entrepreneur that he is today.

Duschl well remembers Musk's monosyllabic but benevolent reaction the first time he had to give a presentation in front of him, showing him the prototype sales and customer service software.

"Cool, good" was all Musk said.

But afterwards he had the feeling that he had made a positive impression on the boss, which he could build on.

The German had no idea of ​​Tesla's subsequent success

Duschl comes from Passau.

He studied economics in Munich and then did a doctorate in Zurich.

From there he went to the University of California at Berkeley near San Francisco.

This is where his connection to Tesla came about, and he brought some industry experience with him, having worked part-time at Munich-based carmaker BMW during his studies.

He says that when he got his start, he had no idea how successful Tesla would become.

He considered the company to be forward-looking, but also for a "suicide mission", as is usual with start-ups.

But even then, his colleagues believed that they could land a really big hit.

He recalls how the manager who hired him predicted that Tesla's stock price would one day reach multiples of what it was then.

That seemed ridiculous to him, but the price is now well above that forecast, taking stock splits into account and despite the recent downtrend.