The last month in the life of Tesla and its mercurial chief executive can best be described as a bungee jump from a plane. No surprise, that we have a bull market in opinions about Elon Musk, his behavior, and his actions.
I don’t own Tesla shares. I have no desire to own them. Just as I don’t want to short them. Hell, I don’t even drive.
But you know what I dream of? Owning a self-driving electric car before I leave the planet. And the odds of that happening are way more likely if Tesla and Elon are around.
Despite all the negativity around Musk, let’s not forget that it was his unwavering belief and constant high-risk doubling down on both solar and electric vehicles that have helped bring about societal change and acceptance for both those technologies. Had it not been for Tesla, the matrix-driven production planners at GM, Mercedes and Porsche wouldn’t be shouting at the top of the lungs about their new electric vehicles.
The world at large likes and lives with the status quo. Why rock the boat, when you can sell and make money.
Tesla made it clear that people wanted this category of product called “electric vehicle.” In fact, Tesla made it cool for you to own an EV. They’re trying to do the same with solar, and SolarCity (bought by Tesla) helped make solar much more affordable.
Again, whether you are for or against these technologies, that is entirely up to you, but you can’t dismiss that had Tesla and Elon not been around, we wouldn’t have reshaped our expectations of cars or clean energy sources.
Before the iPhone came out, the world was very happy with the idea that the phone should have a keyboard. Or that we should not type on a piece of glass and instead use chiclet keyboards. In 10 years, the iPhone has redefined the idea of a phone, created fortunes and changed societal behavior.
It too had a maverick leader, with strong opinions and issues. The difference in the case of Apple — it had an operations-focused whiz, a very strong bench of executives, and a strong-ish board that wasn’t just rubber-stamping everything the leader wanted to do.
In the case of Tesla, what’s missing: gravitas, which is needed when you are a public company. It needs an independent board. It needs its own Tim Cook and it needs strong executives. Musk needs to figure out how to live with the same public markets that have turned him into IronMan for some and a village idiot for others.
I will have a check ready for my self-driving Tesla, no matter when it comes to market!
September 8, 2018, San Francisco