By Carlo Versano

Cheddar named Elon Musk 2018's Class Clown ー but he may have also earned a second title: Biggest Bully.

That's the portrait of Musk presented in an extensive new article in Wired by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg, who spent months reporting on the turbulent year at Tesla ($TSLA) as the company raced to meet its own production goals on the Model 3.

The Model 3 troubles were well known ー Musk himself called the process of getting 5,000 cars made a week "production hell" ー but Duhigg's reporting sheds new light on the mercurial Musk's state of mind, and raises questions about the rapid pace of change in Silicon Valley ー and how that pace is affecting the employees who sign on to "change the world."

In an interview on Cheddar Tuesday, Duhigg said he sought to answer a basic question in his story: "What is going on inside this company?"

What he found: a pressure-cooker environment of activity that reached near-untenable levels over two years ー in which all decisions stemmed from the CEO, who created a workplace where employees were warned to not walk past his desk, lest they get fired.

That high-stress environment was to blame for the spate of high-profile exits at the company, Duhigg said. "That has a real effect on the culture of a place."

Executives like Musk were long a part of Silicon Valley's lore ー the "lonely genius," as Duhigg put it ー wunderkinds who projected an image that they were single-handedly responsible for the success or failure of a venture.

In truth, Duhigg said, thriving tech firms run much like successful law firms, manufacturing plants, or government offices: with hospitable conditions and leaders who prize collaboration, stability, and teamwork.

Put another way, Tesla's mission may be to change the world, but it still needs to abide by the laws of gravity.

For Musk, his rising fame became a complicating factor in his stewardship of Tesla. With more attention paid to his public persona ー from his dating life to tweeting himself into legal troubles ー it became harder for his lieutenants to have honest conversations about problems at the company. Musk was becoming a larger-than-life character, and that's intimidating for employees, Duhigg said. With fewer voices to counsel him and the stress of the Model 3 timeline weighing, Musk became vulnerable, made missteps ー like his public spat with one of the Thai cave rescuers and a tweet that cost him $20 million in SEC fines ー and developed an increasingly volatile temper on the gigafactory floor.

Tesla said in a statement to WIRED that Musk "cares very deeply about the people who work at his companies" and that many of the anecdotes about his temper were "over dramatized."

Having finished his reporting, Duhigg said he was left with a new question about a trade-off in technology. Do start-ups and established companies seeking to work on challenges like climate change, artificial intelligence, and other life-altering issues owe it to their employees to build a balanced and nurturing workplace environment? Or are harsh conditions and long hours just the cost of doing business when you're trying to build a better world?

As for Tesla, the company will end the year having hit its Model 3 production goal, and the stock has rebounded from its October lows. But when it comes to Musk and Tesla, the future is an open road, Duhigg said.

"Anyone who tells you they know what's going to happen doesn't have any idea what they're talking about."

For full interview click here.