Elon Musk question

Does anyone else here think that TSLA might benefit from a new CEO? Is there any way a change in leadership could occur at the company? I’ve been thinking that the company is now entering a new phase that might require new leadership…and maybe Musk would prefer to focus on SpaceX?

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I wouldn’t invest in Tesla if Musk was no longer the CEO.

Andy

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Why do you think Musk isn’t up to it? (Apart from his trademark wackiness and random outbursts) :slight_smile:

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Exactly. I am not a Musk Fan boy but he has done some amazing things minus some of his wackiness. I can’t remember who said it on these boards but Musk could end up going off the deep end something like what happened to Howard Hughes. But that time isn’t yet.

Andy

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That seems like a pretty remote risk. I think a more plausible one is that he doesn’t devote enough time to his day job. Tesla and SpaceX are much vaster enterprises than they were even a few years ago (Tesla alone is more than double what it was in 2021). He’s added another full-sized large company to his plat in Twitter/X, and his plans for that company are also vastly larger in scope than what it was previously doing. OpenAI is in some ways rivalrous to Tesla’s operations, and is in arguably the fastest-moving/fastest-growing sector in the whole economy right now. To say nothing of Neuralink and Boring.

All four of those companies are large enough to warrant a full-time CEO. It will be hard for Musk to continue being in charge of all four (even if he doesn’t hold the title of CEO at all of them). And Musk can be…mercurial. If he decides that making progress at X or OpenAI is more consequential than shepherding a low-cost EV to production timely, perhaps that’s where he’ll spend his time.

No indication that this has been a problem for him or the companies to date. But if there’s a future problem, it’s probably that more than him going nuts.

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Which seems to be the route he’s indicating with the appointment of Tom Zhu as SVP Automotive.
What do you think of Zhu’s contribution so far?

Hopefully he will do likewise with the other units once they approach critical mass

As for Musk’s ‘mercurial’ character, methinks it’s part of any Genius package. Jobs was another exemplar.

It’s probably unrealistic to expect disruptive innovation without a generous dose of disruptive personal traits alongside

May we never run out of such mavericks :slight_smile:

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Why is that a remote risk?

Andy

Because most successful business-people don’t go off the deep end. We remember Howard Hughes because he’s an outlier, the archetype. The overwhelming majority of people who are successful business tycoons don’t end up end up storing their own urine and refusing to have their hair cut but once a year. He’s…kind of the only example? I’m hard-pressed to think of any other similar cases. It’s really uncommon for someone who has had a lifetime of business success go off the deep end as a middle-aged person.

Other than Hughes, can you think of many other examples?

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Nikola Tesla went crazy and died alone in his hotel room, kind of ironic no?

Andy

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Yeah - when he was about thirty years older than Musk is today. Once Musk (or anyone) gets past retirement age, then the odds of going off the deep end go up. But as successful businessman in his early 50’s? It’s a pretty remote event for Musk for a long while.

Again, Hughes is notable because of the singular nature of his “rich industrialist becomes crazy hermit” phase, not because that’s the norm.

I didn’t give a time frame. So now its only remote because he is younger but as he gets older it becomes much more likely? I am sure we can come up with many more genius’s who went crazy. Maybe Van Gogh?

Andy

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Nikola Tesla was ripped off and persecuted for decades before he went crazy.

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There’s lots of crazy people in the world. They almost never demonstrate the skills necessary to manage a large, complex company like Tesla or SpaceX. That’s why Hughes is such a notable figure. The sort of people who manage to rise to that level of business success do not commonly go crazy (subject to the caveat that all of us are vulnerable to senility or dementia in our latest years). Careers in art or other creative endeavors (especially ones that can be solo pursuits) can accommodate people that are far less “functional” even in their earlier years but still be successful. Running a business generally cannot. Again, which is why Hughes was so unusual.

So it’s hard to see Musk’s sanity - or his eccentricities - being a very serious risk any time soon. It’s just not the sort of thing that happens all that often in the business world, almost never to corporate leaders who have demonstrated the type of competency necessary to be a S&P 500 CEO.

Which is why I think a more significant risk (if risk there be) is that his plate has grown too full. Tesla’s grown exponentially. SpaceX has grown enormously. He’s added Twitter with an eye towards turning into whatever X will be. He’s added XAI (I think I mistakenly substituted OpenAI upthread). He’s still got roles at Neuralink and Boring (though not CEO). That’s a lot.

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The obvious parallel is with Henry Ford. Musk seems to be headed for a similar form of insanity in the social and political arena.

At SpaceX, Musk mostly does engineering things, leaving most of the operational decisions to Gwynne Shotwell. At Tesla, it would be a very good thing if he did something similar.

-IGU-

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Thanks for all these very interesting replies.

XMF-C: Well, I suppose your parenthetical comment is part of it…he really is extreme in some opinions.

But lately I have been thinking that his heart isn’t really in TSLA. You know what I think he really wants to be? A showman. A media mogul. I no longer believe science interests him, beyond science fiction of course.

I say with sincerity I think colonizing Mars or putting microchips in people’s heads has more to do with him being a sci-fi fan (I assume he is one) than having any real passion to create electric vehicles or cure disease. I could be wrong, but that’s what I believe.

I fantasize sometimes about TSLA being run by Tim Cook or Satya Nadella (if I have spelled that right, I hope).

Honestly, Musk should step down from TSLA and concentrate on SpaceX…or maybe just X. I think what he should do is lean into his “Saturday Night Live” side and take X and turn it into a media company: make the platform a source to create a film studio and make movies and TV shows and sell content to streamers and linear and put movies in theaters…use the data to market it all…and then use AI to create content and allow some of X users to create content with it too, such that a YouTube type platform is created whereby all this AI stuff competes for monetization.

As for SpaceX, it’s hard for me to hear him honestly believe out loud he can colonize Mars when that is never going to happen. He’ll never have the capital for that. Who would give it to him? Where is the ROI in it?

Yet, SpaceX is supposed to be involved with a Tom Cruise film partially lensed in space…hence I come back to showmanship.

I think TSLA has so much potential…and yes, even with Musk. I am long the stock. I am biased toward buying the pullback (haven’t yet as I am too busy buying the WBD pullback).

But…does Musk represent an opportunity cost?

Is there a better CEO for us?..

I don’t know…

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For all his many flaws, Musk provides the drive that has made Tesla what it is. The idea that Tesla could sustain that without him is an idea I find ludicrous.

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It’s hardly ludicrous. Apple survived Jobs’ death. Microsoft survived Gates’ departure. Ford made it (not without some difficulty) after Hank.

I don’t take that to mean that Tesla wouldn’t be hurt with his departure, but I think that would mostly be in the stock price, not the physical production of automobiles. (The integration of AI/FSS will continue apace either way.)

Ludicrous? Not really. Speed bump? For sure.

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Apple almost didn’t survive Jobs’ 1984 Super Bowl ad (going head to head with IBM). Jobs learned a lot after he was fired. Jobs II was much improved.

The Captain

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I agree, if survival were the measure of success, then yes, I agree Tesla would survive Musk’s departure. However with Musk Tesla will continue to excel.

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Shareholders and the board want Musk and should give him 25% and pay him for the work he has already done.

Any one else’s opinion is irrelevant.

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