The Washington Post published a piece today which clearly intends to be a hit piece on Elon Musk and Tesla. The headline gives a sense of the piece’s take: “Elon Musk moved to Texas and embraced celebrity. Can Tesla run on Autopilot?” But in the very first paragraph, the story undercuts the claim that Tesla is running on autopilot.
The chief executive of both electric car manufacturer Tesla and rocket company SpaceX bounces nearly daily on his private jet between locations — traveling to his longtime home in southern California, Tesla’s plant in the Bay Area, the site of a new factory in Austin, Texas and SpaceX’s launch facility on that state’s Gulf Coast.
Soon we get to what this story is really about, providing space to Musk’s critics.
Critics say the rigors of Musk’s personal schedule, and the seeming cult of personality that has developed around him, are beginning to show in the car company he runs…
In interviews with a dozen current and former Tesla employees, investors and analysts, critics pointed to a series of questionable business moves, and even outright missteps by Tesla, as a potential symptom of the outside demands on Musk.
One of Musk’s critics, cites the Cybertruck debut back in November 2019 as a sign of how things are going at Tesla. You may remember one of the truck’s windows broke during the event. Granted that was momentarily embarrassing for Musk but did that make the debut a failure? Not really. As of last July Tesla had received 650,000 preorders for the truck at $100 each. A lot of other car companies would kill for that kind of failure.
The story bounces awkwardly along between the vague concerns of the critics and the fact that Tesla had a very successful year in 2020, which seems to suggest things aren’t going too badly right now.
Musk’s impulsive leadership has worked to Tesla’s benefit so far. His bets have resulted in huge successes, vaulting Tesla from an upstart electric vehicle pioneer to the world’s most valuable automaker. The company delivered a record of nearly 500,000 vehicles in 2020 and has cannibalized prospective U.S. electric vehicle sales from practically every other automaker…
After hitting a near-term low of $177 per share in mid-2019, Tesla’s stock soared to a new high of more than $2,000 just over a year later, before the company implemented a 5-for-1 split late last summer. Tesla’s cash flow woes had abated and the company was posting consecutive quarters of profitability.
By the end of the piece, we’re back to the critics who are upset about Musk’s recent tweets about cryptocurrency. One unnamed employee said he was upset when another employee followed Musk’s lead and invested $70,000 worth of company stock in Bitcoin. He told his fellow employee, Musk “doesn’t care about you; he’ll ruin you.” Again, the specifics are vague but it might be a stretch to claim that an employee who had $70,000 of company stock on hand had been ruined by Elon Musk.
Perhaps sensing what kind of story this was going to be, Musk’s only response to the Post’s request for comment was: “Give my regards to your puppet master.”