Elon Musk wanted The Onion; he got Thud

Elon Musk never required him to make money. That made the meeting Cole Bolton had last December particularly hard: after working together for more than a year and receiving more than $2 million in funding from Musk to build an ambitious, offbeat satire startup, Musk’s chief of staff, Sam Teller, sat Bolton down to say that Musk was backing out and cutting off funding. That meant Bolton’s startup, Thud, would have to launch, find an audience, and figure out a way to make money before what little remained of Musk’s funding ran out. He had about six months.

Musk had initially presented the Thud team with a dream deal. Two former leaders of The Onion, Bolton and Ben Berkley, would be given free rein to create the kind of ambitious satirical…

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