Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been pulling all-nighters at the Tesla factory lately, sometimes sleeping on a conference room couch or on the floor, in order to catch up with car production targets. When YouTube video blogger and Tesla fan Ben Sullins caught wind of Musk's uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, he started a tongue-in-cheek fundraising campaign to get the billionaire a new, comfy couch.
"The idea was that he should have a decent place to sleep when he's pulling all-nighters," Sullins tells CNBC Make It.
Online fans raised over $9,000 in less than a week, and twice that amount ended up going to a good cause: Musk thanked Sullins for the new couch and matched the funds from his foundation, bringing the total donation to charity to more than $18,000.
Sullins, a full-time YouTube content producer and data scientist, says that he started the campaign on April 16 as a joke: "I thought zero people would donate."
He shared it on his YouTube channel "Teslanomics," while vlogging about Musk's April 13 "CBS This Morning" interview with host Gayle King. There, Musk told King about the company's setbacks and his reaction to the pressure.
"I'm definitely under stress, so if I seem like I'm not under stress, then I'm gonna be clear, I'm definitely under stress," Musk told King. "When things get really intense, I don't have time to go home and shower and change, so I just sleep here."
This wasn't the first time Musk had admitted to staying at the factory overnight. "My desk is at the end of the production line," Musk said during a Tesla earnings call in 2016. "I have a sleeping bag in a conference room next to the production line that I use quite frequently."
Between $7,609 in donations from 591 people on the GoFundMe site and an additional $1,500 donation collected by the Tesla Club Sweden (neither group is affiliated with Tesla), Sullins collected a total of $9,109 in less than a week. Then online furniture company Wayfair offered to donate a new couch, and donors voted to pay the money forward to the U.K.-based renewable energy organization Renewable World.