Australian Economy

Australian Billionaire Scott Farquhar Faces Off With Elon Musk Over Tesla’s Work From Office Threat


Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ultimatum for employees to return to the office for at least 40 hours per week—or else—started a Twitter spat with Atlassian’s billionaire CEO Scott Farquhar, who said Tesla’s directive was “like something out of the 1950s” and suggested he would be happy for Tesla employees to apply to his remote-friendly company.

Key Facts

Musk sent an email to Tesla executive staffers this week that anyone who wishes to work remotely must work from the office “for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours a week,” or they must depart the company.

Responding to a tweet asking for comment on people who think working from an office is an “antiquated concept,” Musk replied, “They should pretend to work somewhere else.”

Farquhar commented on Musk’s order in a series of tweets, writing that remote work at Atlassian has been “key for our continued growth,” adding that Atlassian is aiming to have 25,000 employees by 2026 and asking if any Tesla employees are interested.

Musk replied to Farquhar’s tweets, saying: “The above set of tweets illustrate why recessions serve a vital economic cleansing function.”

Farquhar tweeted Atlassian, which has a $50 billion market cap, was founded 20 years ago, “in a recession,” but that the company was just getting started.

The careers page on Atlassian’s website now has a banner that reads: “Welcome Tesla friends, we’re Atlassian and we work from anywhere. Apply now.”

What To Watch For

Twitter has a permanent remote work policy—but if Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of the company goes through, it could change. In a since deleted tweet, Musk floated the idea of converting Twitter’s San Francisco office into a “homeless shelter since no one shows up anyway.”

Key Background

Tesla’s factory in Shanghai has been impacted by the recent Covid lockdowns, forcing numerous shutdowns and dealing a blow to Musk’s production goals. Musk has still praised Tesla’s factory workers in China, saying last month they are willing to work long hours and sometimes, not even leave the factory—while blasting American workers as “trying to avoid going to work at all.” Musk sent an email to Tesla executives on Thursday ordering a hiring freeze, writing that he wants to lay off about 10% of the company workforce because he has a “super bad feeling” about the economy, according to an internal email obtained by Reuters. Tesla’s shares fell 6.3% Friday morning. Atlassian, a software company based in Australia, has worked with Musk’s companies Tesla and SpaceX.

Big Number

$233.7 billion. That’s Musk’s net worth, according to Forbesreal-time wealth tracker, making him the richest person in the world. Farquhar is Australia’s fourth-richest person with a net worth of $12.4 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.

Further Reading

Musk Says Tesla Staff Can ‘Pretend To Work Somewhere Else’ Following Leaked Emails Ending Remote Work (Forbes)

Elon Musk Reportedly Wants To Lay Off 10% Of Tesla’s Workforce As He Frets About The Economy (Forbes)

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