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Recode Daily: The truth about Les Moonves; inside Elon Musk’s brain

Plus, Steve Bannon may be a “wandering plague ship,” but Kara Swisher would still interview him; software developers are more valuable to companies than money; “my life flashed before my eyes.”

Screenshot of Tesla CEO Elon Musk on the Joe Rogan podcast smoking a blunt. The caption reads, “Elon Musk seen smoking weed, drinking whiskey on podcast.”
Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Screenshot / The Joe Rogan Experience / YouTube

Les Moonves was not a good CEO. Even before the sexual abuse allegations, it was clear the CBS chief was failing everyone except himself, says Joe Nocera, who finds the evidence in the transcript from the company’s Aug. 2 second-quarter conference call. Moonves had convinced the CBS board — and most of Wall Street — that “he was irreplaceable, that he was worth every penny of his $60 million-plus annual compensation, and that his obsession with earnings-per-share was the right way to run a media company at this time of immense disruption. But it’s not.” The WSJ finds more people with bad things to say about Moonves: “He is the most vengeful vindictive man in a vengeful vindictive town.” [Joe Nocera / Bloomberg]

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Elon Musk’s brain isn’t like yours. A new book about “serial breakthrough innovators” finds that a lot of them are “low self-monitors” — meaning they don’t monitor their persona or the way they present themselves very carefully, which is relevant to their ability to generate unusual ideas and to persist in the face of criticism. With all that in mind, here are some thoughts about what the phrase “off the record” means to the likes of Musk. [Justin Fox / Bloomberg]

Steve Bannon may be a “hopelessly unmade bed of a man” and a “wandering plague ship,” but Kara Swisher says she would interview him, and other journalists should talk to him. Writing about Bannon’s recent disinvitation to the New Yorker Festival, Swisher agrees with a quote by filmmaker Errol Morris (who has interviewed Bannon): “The first job of journalism is to investigate. It shouldn’t be pundits in a room saying things that they all agree with.” [Kara Swisher / The New York Times]

Uber hired Rebecca Messina to serve as its first global chief marketing officer. A longtime Coca-Cola marketing executive, Messina was most recently the head of marketing at liquor giant Beam Suntory. And Snap’s No. 2 executive, chief strategy officer Imran Khan, is leaving the company to start his own investment fund focused on helping startups grow, which he will finance initially with his own capital. [Suzanne Vranica / The Wall Street Journal]

Software developers are now more valuable to companies than money. And too many companies are misusing their most important resource, with too many developers tied up in projects designed to prop up legacy systems and bad software, at a cost of $300 billion a year — $85 billion just dealing with bad code. [Will Gaybrick / CNBC]

Teens are hooked on social media — a new study shows that almost 90 percent of American teens now have their own smartphones, and some 70 percent use social media multiple times per day. And they seem aware of the negative consequences of too much social media use. Meanwhile, Facebook remains the dominant source of news for U.S. adults, with two-thirds getting their news from social media — which doesn’t mean they expect it to be accurate. [Rani Molla / Recode]

Some YouTube stars are heading for burnout, chronic fatigue and depression. “Human brains really aren’t designed to be interacting with hundreds of people every day,” says one full-time YouTuber who worked 20-hour days on his rise to 90,000 subscribers, always conscious that missing a day’s upload could cause his videos to tumble down the search rankings. Many YouTubers have believed that they are loved most by their audience when they project a chirpy, grateful image. But what happens when the mask slips? [Simon Parkin / The Guardian]

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My life flashed before my eyes.

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