Matt Levine would like you to know that Elon Musk does not actually ruin all of his vacations. Sure, he was at Sesame Place, the theme park just outside Philadelphia, with his kids when Musk announced his Twitter bid, and then stayed up until midnight that night to get his newsletter, Money Stuff, out. But that was kind of fun! “My life has not been ruined by having to write about Elon Musk on Saturdays,” the former mergers and acquisitions lawyer told me. And in M&A, everything happens on the weekend.
“He’s a very smart guy who is very much not a lawyer, and that is very fruitful.”
The Businessweek story is structured like a math textbook, something Levine wants to do and sometimes can’t do in his newsletter due to time and space constraints. “If you read an upper-level math textbook, it starts from the dumbest thing, like, ‘This is what a number is,’” he says. “It starts from that basic premise and builds from there, and I love that format, and I love that ambition for writing about complicated topics.” Because Bitcoin is such a recent invention, it’s possible to start with the whitepaper and build from there to the major crypto shenanigans you see today.
Levine insists the interruptions weren’t a big deal. He delights in Musk, actually! “He’s a very smart guy who is very much not a lawyer, and that is very fruitful,” Levine says. “He wants things to work in an engineer-y way, and he butts up against things that run in a lawyer-y way.” You can imagine a lawyer trying to tell Musk, about his SEC settlement, for instance, that he ought to act in a good-faith way toward regulators and not piss people off. And you can also imagine Musk saying, “I don’t mind pissing people off — I just want to know exactly what will get me sent to jail for contempt.”
I asked Levine how he gets it all done. “I type really fast!” Levine says. (He also says that if he were to take more time to write, he’d use fewer words.)
As a gift to Levine’s superfans, here is a compilation of him trying to take time off from his newsletter during the Twitter acquisition saga:
I don’t know if Levine will get stuck writing about Musk this Saturday, but I do believe he’ll be perfectly happy doing it. Levine seems fond of Musk.
“Elon does some shit every day, and that’s how I get the newsletter done,” Levine says. “I love the shtick I do, ‘Elon keeps ruining my life.’ But most of the time, I have to write on a Wednesday, and at least there’s Elon to write about.”