Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Cultural Disrupters

Change – particularly change that disrupts the status quo – doesn’t happen peacefully. No, it’s ugly, messy, and sometimes downright violent. And when there is large scale commerce involved, it’s going to get even uglier.

Enter Elon Musk.

Now here you have a guy who has decided to take on not one, not two, but three large scale industries at once: space travel (Space X), electric cars (Tesla), and solar energy (Solar City). I’m not even going to bring up high speed underground transport (the Boring Company) and his “brain/machine interface” (Neuralink). Make no mistake, these are all “real” companies working on technologies that will one day be ubiquitous.

For the sake of this post, let’s just focus on Tesla. In 2003 Elon decided to start a new car company focused exclusively on electric vehicles. It is now the first successful American car manufacturer since the establishment of the “big 3” in the early 20th century: Ford (1903), General Motors (1908), and Chrysler (1925).

But Elon wasn’t just interested in making a new car, no, he wanted to make a car that bypassed the petroleum industry completely. His car would be run on electricity. He was going to upend the paradigm of using the internal combustion engine (ICE) to power the vehicle, because he thought it would be good for the planet. WTF!! You mean here was a titan of industry who was motivated by something other than money? How dare you! Disrupter indeed…

Up to this point, Tesla has essentially been a car for the wealthy – which was part of his plan from the beginning. Now, however, he is in the critical process of rolling out the Model 3 – the first Tesla vehicle for the masses. In other words, up to this point, it was a niche market – now Tesla is entering into the business of mass marketing their vehicles, and it is making the “powers that be” very nervous.

Elon Musk is now looking more and more like a credible threat to both the petroleum AND automobile industries, and that my friend is the point at which lines are drawn and weapons come out.

Things are about to get rough.

In three days the third quarter of 2018 ends, and he will release sales numbers. It is expected that Tesla will outsell BMW in this time period, a significant first. The company is doing everything it can to deliver vehicles to meet this milestone, and it is learning how to do so as it goes along. These growing pains are rough, as would be expected for a new product.

So what happens today? The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sues Elon Musk for fraud. As if that wasn’t bad enough, if he’s found guilty, they have recommended he be barred from serving as either an officer or director of a publicly traded company. In other words, he will have to step down as CEO of his own company.

Hot enough for ya?

Now, Elon holds some responsibility for all of this – his own “eccentric” behavior set this particular chain of events in motion. However, one thing I have learned in life is this: if something seems highly coincidental, there is usually more to the story than meets the eye.

BTW, I have a personal interest in all this: in 2 days I am due to take ownership of my new Model 3. How does all this make me feel? Excited and unsettled.

I do, however, believe in this man and what he is trying to do. History has yet to be written as to whether he succeeds or not.

It’s going to be a very bumpy ride.