This strikes me as one of the most balanced evaluations of Musk. The usual progressive assessment of him is that he never invented or engineered anything. That is true enough. However, Tesla and SpaceX differ from the usual Silicon Valley obsessions because they produce an actual physical product. Software has the unique characteristic that over the product is created the marginal cost of output is essentially zero. That's why there are so many software billionaires. SpaceX continues to thrive because it already has a "Tim Cook" in the form of Gin Shotwell. Also, Musk continues to push the development of they're next generation vehicles. Unfortunately, he's not devouring similar energy to Tesla. He is just busy extracting rents. His other current obsession is Culture Wars. His behavior is remeniscent of Henry Ford's after the mid 1920s.

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Why, thank you very much! Brad

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I've gotta disagree with the premise of the piece. Tesla had accelerated the development of electric cars by 2-3 years--a great boon to humanity. "Had:" past tense. Is there any reason to believe that Tesla will remain well ahead of its EV competitors in the future? If you replace Musk with a Tim Cook clone, Tesla would be far more likely to survive the next decade. But I doubt that Tesla's survival is all that significant any more. There is a lot of high-quality competition these days. What Tesla doesn't do, somebody else will do.

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"But I doubt that Tesla's survival is all that significant any more. "

That was my reaction. It's a battery company. It would probably be nice if they kept on making batteries, and somebody continues to design cars that use them.

But it wouldn't be a problem if they disappeared. Probably salutary in fact.

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"And for all the rest of America, and for the world, it matters very much that Tesla be run by a CEO focused on its being successful as a technology-generating carbon transition-forcing enterprise."


I agree with Ziggy. Musk is no longer needed. As for Tesla, he is causing problems for teh company by treating customers as guinea pig beta-testers in products that can kill you. Hence the recalls and investigation over his "full self driving" claims that are dangerous. He seems to be on track to enlarge the guinea pig population in China. His design for the CyberTruck makes the worst products of the big auto companies look good by comparison. Ford had its Pinto. Tesla seems intent on maintaining an expensive line of Pintos.

He did us a favor pushing the Tesla cars into the mainstream, overcoming the stigma of electric cars and far exceeding GM's EV1's capabilities. However, now that the market is cracked open, the traditional car manufacturers are building quality models without the SD component which is all we need to transition from ICE vehicles.

Note that Tesla includes the solar power company that seems to have largely disappeared from view. I no longer see ads for them, and what happened to the "PV shingles"?

He successfully beat established companies to build man-rated, reusable launchers, and capsule to deliver astronauts to teh space station. But so far Starship has not managed an orbital flight and there are some doubts about its value as a spaceship due to the number of launches needed to refuel it. Hopefully that will demosntrate success for the Artemis mission, but apart from the Mars Society boosterism, one hears less and less about using it as the basis to kick start a Mars colony. Reality bites!

As for his other ideas - Starlink, Neuralink, household robots....he over promises and under delivers. I wouldn't trust a "Musk-designed" robot or neuralink implant as being in any way safe. Musk doesn't seem to believe the rules apply to him, and that includes development and business practices.

If history is kind, he will be seen as a visonary, like Tesla, but not successful like Edison. If it is unkind, he will be seen as a huckster like Jay Gould. I think he will be seen as a very flawed man who sold dreams that he couldn't fulfill, but that others subsequently did.

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Sometimes it’s hard to tell a Tim Cook from a John Sculley

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Good piece. One caveat though - anyone like me invested in the S&P 500 or a lookalike is a de facto "long term investor" in Tesla, at something like the market weight.

I think your point is that you don't see long-term *active* investors, people who will speak truth to the board and CEO because they have money on the line and think they can influence the long term value. Part of that is a function of Musk's successes in 1) establishing an "l'etat c'est moi" personal identification with Tesla that gives him authority in public eye 2) establishing a compliant board as well as lots of voting stock 3) establishing a meme-stock type market valuation that would scare off any long-term active investor with ideas of how to maximize long-term value.

Only once TSLA plummets enough to present a potential value opportunity as a fix-up, and Musk's reputation is sufficiently bloodied, can someone step in and push for adults to take the wheel.

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Tesla needed to bring in seasoned auto industry professional to manage long-term product line planning and refresh cycles 5 years ago (2019) if not earlier. Doing so would have ended the fantasy that Tesla was magic that could grow forever, so Husk refused to do so, and instead embarked on the badly designed pickup truck fiasco. There is nothing new coming out of Tesla today, no new technology, and increasingly no management or leadership. Sane leadership at least.

IMHO Tesla is a dead dinosaur walking, and will collapse and/or be acquired by a "legacy" auto maker within 5 years. All due to Melon Husk's ego and unwillingness to acknowledge that his success was largely based on the work of others (something Steve Jobs, for all his jerkiness, understood and said).

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Of course my opinion of Musk is that of a tech visionary rather than that of a finance-oriented CEO. Should Tesla decide to sell off its car division, would Tesla still be Tesla? So in many respects, it seems that Tesla sells electric cars with a nice margin in order to fund his visions.

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Oh dear, maybe I bought a Studebaker..

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