Is It Possible to Replace Elon Musk as CEO of Tesla?

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In summary, Tesla is facing some major financial challenges, and some people are concerned about the company's future.
  • #106
OmCheeto said:
I concur with N.D.T's opinion:


Neil deGrasse Tyson: Elon Musk Is The Most Important Person Alive Today​

This is a surprisingly illogical and counter-factual argument from a scientist.

The counter-factual: "...not simply giving us the next app that will be awesome on our smartphone..." is downplaying/ignoring the smartphone itself.

The illogical: "thinking about...what forces need to be in play to take civilization into the next century." This is a future bias, in that essentially the future is always better. This is mostly true, but what he's ignoring is that it was as true in 1975 as it is true today. What it allows him to do is specule about a future that hasn't happened yet and judge Musk as if it has already happened. And maybe it will, but Tesla will need to become the largest car company in the world in order to justify even today's opinion of it (per its stock price as an objective measure and opinions like NDT's as a subjective measure). That will be tough since pretty much the only electric cars people are buying today are his. Overall, the market for high efficiency cars is shrinking, not growing and that's going to be tough for him to overcome. If Teslas become the next Priuses, that will be great, but it will fall way short of today's judgement.

Related: NDT also downplayed the other contenders by pointing out that Apple (Jobs) was in competition with Microsoft (Gates)...and lost! Jobs was the Digital Messiah, but he still needed Gates to bring PCs to everyone else who wasn't a believer (me, for example). That doesn't diminish Jobs's importance, it just demonstrates the importance of the computer revolution: it was far too big for one person. In order for Musk to become Jobs, he'll need his Gates to sell electric cars to the rest of us. -- Unless NDT really believes that in 20 years Tesla will be by far the largest car company on the planet, essentially a global monopoly?

One of the criticisms often said about Jobs or even Einstein is that they happened to be at the head of a wave, so if they haven't existed the wave would have moved through anyway. This is probably true, but IMO doesn't diminish their impact. For Tesla, what has enabled them to get where they are is the drop in lithium battery prices, which happened largely independent of Musk. If electric cars become mainstream, Musk will simply have been at the head of that wave, but a big wave it is.

...and the silliness of the "no need to fight a war [in space]" bit. Do I really need to address that? C'mon.

...and one more: "Elon Musk is deeply respected by everyone who works in his company..." - This just can't be true and smacks of propaganda. Sounds like something a certain head of state would say about himself (or have his spokesperson say about him).

I think that NDT believes the world needs a Digital Messiah, and that's fine for him. I'll remain agnostic for now.
 
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  • #107
...ehh, some of this is just due to the mess CNBC made by making the title not match the question.

The title under the video is:
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Elon Musk Is The Most Important Person Alive Today

The question he answers is:
Who is going to influence society the most in the long run: Zuckerberg, Jobs, Musk, or Bezos?

I'm not being glib by pointing out that Steve Jobs is dead, so his importance moving forward is diminishing. If one wants to argue that Musk is more important moving forward than the others because he hasn't finished making his mark yet, I'd probably agree (with a caveat to Bezos). But that's a very different question than the one NDT answered.

It also struck me that the others were all branches in the computer revolution. If it is believed that Musk could help launch other industries (like electric cars), then only Jobs (plus Gates) qualify to be on the list. Then we'd want to be comparing them to Ford, Wright(s), Carrier, etc. He's got a long, long way to go to get there.
 
  • #108
russ_watters said:
This is mostly true, but what he's ignoring is that it was as true in 1975 as it is true today.
And no one (?) really knows if the current main stream and direction in space exploration will remain in the future, or what exactly the future will bring. For example, back in the 60's and 70's more things were accomplished in "away from Earth orbit" space exploration than with the subsequent (80's, 90's and 00's) [promising at the time] Space Shuttle business, which was later abandoned in 2011 (if I am not mistaken). And all that (60's and 70's) at a time where e.g. "the year 2000" was being looked at as a possible remote futuristic symbol of breakthrough in space exploration and ovelall progress (including cars and futuristic vehicles). None of that happened, not even the pre-announced in early 90's "virtual reality (&holograms) breakthrough ("revolution")", probably because commercial and martket emphasis was given as a priority in computers, cell phones and the internet, all the others pending yet to follow ...
And we're already almost in the year 2019 ... and we're again back to rockets and no maned missions anywhere else yet, other than just orbit (although, however, great progress has been made in remote probed and robotic missions throughout our solar system and beyond! ... - Guess what! Due to computers, robotics and communications!).

So, I just hope that Elon's and SpaceX's work won't just be another "Space Shuttle story", and I say "Good Luck!:oldbiggrin::biggrin:" to all future predictions in that era etc., as I think that no one really knows or can predict the exact future, not even the ones who create it! ...
 
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  • #109
Stavros Kiri said:
And no one (?) really knows if the current main stream and direction in space exploration will remain in the future, or what exactly the future will bring.
His prediction that asteroid mining will end war on Earth and Musk will bring it to us...makes me wonder if NDT was getting high with Musk!
 
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  • #110
russ_watters said:
His prediction that asteroid mining will end war on Earth and Musk will bring it to us...makes me wonder if NDT was getting high with Musk!
Hahaha...
 
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  • #111
russ_watters said:
His prediction that asteroid mining will end war on Earth and Musk will bring it to us...makes me wonder if NDT was getting high with Musk!

Hahaha...
 
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  • #112
russ_watters said:
His prediction that asteroid mining will end war on Earth and Musk will bring it to us
He didn't make either prediction.
russ_watters said:
The illogical: "thinking about...what forces need to be in play to take civilization into the next century." This is a future bias, in that essentially the future is always better.
We know the future will be different because the current lifestyle is not sustainable. Will it be better, worse or just different? If we don't actively do something it will be worse: We will run out of various resources and the changing climate will make many places very unpleasant. Musk is trying to make the future better, or at least allow us to keep the current lifestyle but in a more sustainable way.

How would the world look like without Gates, Jobs, Bezos and Zuckerberg? We would still have personal computers with operating systems, smartphones, online shopping and big social networks - maybe a bit later, with a different company name, but it wouldn't have changed much. They all had competitors doing the same thing.

Before Tesla, electric cars were like the Prius: Small, slow, with a short electric range, bought by people who wanted to be eco-friendly or at least pretend to be. Tesla's Roadster was elegant, fast, with a high acceleration and with a long range: a sports car. Tesla showed electric cars can be interesting even if you don't care about the environment, and suddenly other car companies looked at more powerful electric cars as well. Where would we be without Tesla? There is a chance we would still have only Prius equivalents on the road, but it is hard to tell.

For SpaceX we don't have to guess, we have a long history to look at. How did the space market look before SpaceX? ULA had a monopoly on US government launches with cost+ contracts: They had a monetary incentive to make them as expensive as they could reasonably justify. Their rockets got nearly no contracts from elsewhere due to their price. Arianespace launched most heavy satellites to geostationary orbits and launched government satellites from European countries. India and Russia launched smaller commercial satellites and their own government satellites. China did their own thing. No one had a big incentive for making launches cheaper. Once in a while some new variants were introduced but overall the market was quite static. Without SpaceX we would still have the same situation.

SpaceX entered the market and offered one of the largest rockets, at a price of one of the smaller rockets. They quickly got many contracts, so many that they needed years of production ramp-up to keep up with all of them. This year they got 2/3 of all commercial contracts worldwide, and they also get several US government satellites. Now everyone else is trying to keep up. Ariane 6, Vulcan, Vega C, Soyuz-5, ... In addition, SpaceX demonstrated that rocket reusability can save money. Before them no one was planning to reuse rockets, now everyone is looking at it. ULA, Arianespace, the Chinese, the Russians, India - they are all developing partially reusable rockets. Reuse is a must if you want drastically lower launch costs.
SpaceX did one more thing: It showed that rocket start-ups can be successful. And suddenly we have them everywhere. Rocket Lab has the operational Electron rocket, Vector Space Systems did flight tests with its Vector-R already and plans an orbital launch next year, Virgin Orbit wants to launch LauncherOne next year after test flights of the carrier this year, Zero 2 Infinity plans to launch Bloostar next year after test flights of the balloon last year, Firefly Aerospace plans a launch of Alpha next year, LandSpace aims at 2020 for Zhuque-2 after a failed launch of a smaller Zhuque-1 this year, and so on (this is maybe half of the list of relevant start-ups). They all have the same goals: Make rockets cheaper, make rocket launches more frequent.

Three companies plan to install LEO satellite internet constellations - OneWeb, Boeing and SpaceX. They need more than 1000 satellites to make that work. With the old rockets and their production rates such a constellation wouldn't work. It is SpaceX and the development they started that make these constellations possible. The constellations can provide internet access for everyone in the world - over 3 billion people still don't have that option today. You know the impact internet access had for the first half of the world's population. Now imagine connecting the other half.

tl;dr:
Forget Musk's Mars ambitions, forget asteroid mining, forget the tunneling projects, forget Neuralink - although all four have the potential to be revolutionary on their own in the future - forget Tesla if you want. Truly global internet access will have a massive impact.

Edit: Missed Neuralink
 
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  • #113
mfb said:
He didn't make either prediction.We know the future will be different because the current lifestyle is not sustainable. Will it be better, worse or just different? If we don't actively do something it will be worse: ...
...
...SpaceX and the development they started that make these constellations possible. The constellations can provide internet access for everyone in the world - over 3 billion people still don't have that option today. You know the impact internet access had for the first half of the world's population. Now imagine connecting the other half.

tl;dr:
Forget Musk's Mars ambitions, forget asteroid mining, forget the tunneling projects - although all three have the potential to be revolutionary on their own - forget Tesla if you want. Truly global internet access will have a massive impact.
I think this is a very important post. I frankly encourage everyone that may find it long to read it carefuly. And the quoted link very important and interesting (I wasn't aware).
 
  • #114
mfb said:
He didn't make either prediction.
I assume you watched the video and know the passage I'm referring to? Please tell me how you interpreted it.
How would the world look like without Gates, Jobs, Bezos and Zuckerberg? We would still have personal computers with operating systems, smartphones, online shopping and big social networks - maybe a bit later, with a different company name, but it wouldn't have changed much. They all had competitors doing the same thing.
What you are not saying, but are implying is that it would look much the same. I agree.
Before Tesla, electric cars were like the Prius: Small, slow, with a short electric range, bought by people who wanted to be eco-friendly or at least pretend to be. Tesla's Roadster was elegant, fast, with a high acceleration and with a long range: a sports car. Tesla showed electric cars can be interesting even if you don't care about the environment, and suddenly other car companies looked at more powerful electric cars as well. Where would we be without Tesla? There is a chance we would still have only Prius equivalents on the road, but it is hard to tell.
Unlikely, given the shift in battery technology. That's why I consider him the Steve Jobs of electric cars. The revolution was happening, and he's at the front of the wave, telling everyone "Now!".

...caveat, though: When Steve Jobs told everyone 'Now it's time to buy [PCs, mp3 players, smart phones]', I bought one, but not from him. The fact that people aren't buying electric cars from anyone but him (for the most part) should worry him and his followers fans.
For SpaceX we don't have to guess, we have a long history to look at.
Unless that history includes profit, we don't have the most important part of it. Consider what Tesla would look like if we ignored its P/L sheet. It would look like a wild success instead of a company perpetually on the edge of going out of business. SpaceX is only 1 year older than Tesla. Investors will pour tens of billions of dollars into a company if they believe in the CEO/vision.

SpaceX certainly transformed the industry, but everything you said about their finances is speculation. For all you/I know, they could go bankrupt tomorrow. I suppose though if they go bankrupt their contribution to the industry would still be considered a positive thing.
over 3 billion people still don't have that option today. You know the impact internet access had for the first half of the world's population. Now imagine connecting the other half.
tl;dr:
Forget Musk's Mars ambitions, forget asteroid mining, forget the tunneling projects, forget Neuralink - although all four have the potential to be revolutionary on their own in the future - forget Tesla if you want. Truly global internet access will have a massive impact.
A billion of them will need electricity first. :rolleyes:

Frankly, no, I don't see this as being a particularly spectacular project. Considering that half the worlds' population lives on less than $2.50 a day, this strikes me as a silly out-of-touch 1st world charity misfire. The other 3 billion need water, food, roofs, electricity, basic sanitation, non-oppressive governments, etc. before internet access.

...that, of course, and global satellite based internet service has existed for 20 years. :rolleyes:
 
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  • #115
russ_watters said:
That will be tough since pretty much the only electric cars people are buying today are his.
Really?

(google google google)

Wow. I think everyone should have put up a tent.

2018.12.28.Tesla.EV.market.share.png

[https://insideevs.com/monthly-plug-in-sales-scorecard/]

I think I said about 10 years ago, that the Volt was the best transition car for the immediate future.
Perhaps the future is moving too fast, for me, and everyone running the old car companies.

hmmm... I wonder if people bad mouthed Henry, 100 years ago, for being ahead of the curve?
And if there were a bunch of people pissed off, because there'd be a lot of out of work horses?

2018.12.28.Ford.vs.Tesla.png
 

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  • #116
russ_watters said:
I assume you watched the video and know the passage I'm referring to?
Of course I watched a video I was commenting on. He made the predictions that (a) asteroid mining can prevent one reason for war (out of many) and that (b) Musk is working on cheaper access to space, something that might in the future lead to asteroid mining.
russ_watters said:
Unlikely, given the shift in battery technology.
Where were all the projects of the large car companies then? They are still far behind the relatively small start-up in terms of fast electric cars, despite much larger resources.
russ_watters said:
but everything you said about their finances is speculation
I didn't say anything about their finances. But let's change that. They have positive EBITDA - their operation makes profit. The overall company does not because they invest a lot in R&D, have to pay interest on loans and so on.
The fact that we talk about profit is a big change already. ULA had its profit guaranteed from the government: "No matter how much money you need to build the rocket, we'll pay it, and then give you X% bonus. Oh, and we'll also give you $1B/year in addition for other expenses you might have, independent of any launches." SpaceX offered the launches not just a little bit cheaper. It is a whole new price range because they can offer it that cheap, and ULA still needs more money. Here is a comparison.
russ_watters said:
For all you/I know, they could go bankrupt tomorrow.
They have no problem getting investors or loans. See the link above where they wanted $250M but could have gotten $750M.
Why do they get money so easily? Because investors are very happy with the company.
russ_watters said:
Frankly, no, I don't see this as being a particularly spectacular project.
If you disagree with all the experts, without being an expert yourself, I'll just ignore your opinion on that topic. It is just not worth further discussion.
 
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