Can Elon Musk save Tesla from himself?
So according to UCLA, Android, smartphone with the Snapdragon eight, four, five processor from Qualcomm have faster data speeds, AT and t. or t-mobil the non Android phones using Intel modems. That's basically over a million real world tests done in the second quarter of twenty eighteen. So you could see all the data for yourself at Qualcomm dot com slash vox today. Yeah. Tesla. Oh, Hello. We're good. Hello, welcome to another episode of the weeds on the vox media podcast network, Matthew yglesias, Kiewit chain, Costa n- Darah Lind and we are going to, I don't know, politics salena bit on break res- Wayne for storm. We don't really know what's happening with hurricanes and we wanted to talk about Yulon musk, an interesting character frequently in the news intersecting with a lot of important issues and seemingly melting down a little bit lately. Yeah. And it's funny because there is like the interesting news that was giftable and then there's the actual interesting news that was less giftable. So on September seventh, he smoked a blunt but did not inhale which I mean, what are we even doing here with Joe Rogan on his podcast, which then caused people to be immediately like, why is Elon Musk smoking marijuana on a podcast with Joe Rogan. But on that same day, Tesla's chief accounting officer quit after less than a month and blamed quote, unquote pub. Attention on the company and the pace of work. And so if you are an investor in tesla and the chief accounting officer says that there's too much attention on the company so he can't work there anymore. I personally would be filled with mild dismay, right? I mean, it's worth pointing out that as much fun as the internet has had with a gif of Elon Musk smoking, a blunt. The dynamic of this news story is what are the investors going to do? It's this weird Bank shot where a lot of concerns, frankly about v. wellbeing of Elon Musk as a human being as well as as a CEO are being refracted through the lens of well, no one saying it's our places the American public to save. You shouldn't be smoking a blunt on a podcast, but we're worried about what the investors will think. It's the same kind of thing that like you might hear from a white high school girl who likes non WI high school. Boy, it's like, oh, it's not that I'm a racist, but I'm worried about what. My parents will think that that's really deep. Let's. But it's important to talk about this because we're in this weird. We are in a position as a politics and policy podcast of talking about a star of the private sector whose news right now is kind of takes the shape of celebrity tabloid and like that's a weird dynamic, and it's worth pointing out that it's the way in which it's laundered is by talking about this as a story about tesla, this wildly successful electric car company rather than as a story about like is Elon Musk prepared for the celebrity of twenty-first-century life, which would separate question yes, but that's that's what I want to back east. You know, why is this guy and a set of companies that you might be interested in talking about the weeds? And it seems to me that that's because it almost gets his start working at pay pal on with Peter Thiel and a couple others. He's one of the founders of that company. He makes a lot of money off of it within what he's gone into since then is one company tesla that makes electric cars. Another company. That was involved in solar power that he's since merged with tesla than he has a company space x, which does space, stuff rockets. And he has also launched what purports to be a tunnel building company called the boring company. And he will sort of dash off various ideas that he's going to greatly improve the efficiency of American transportation networks that these boring company ideas. And he has also dabbled in the idea of the hyperloop, which is a kind of MagLev vacuum train. So what's interesting about all this? I mean, I think these companies exist on a stack of like Tesla's very real, like those cars are on the road it exists. His solar company is not necessarily like the only solar power company, but it also exists. It's out there. The batteries have complementarity with tesla. These are real products. SpaceX is more Nishi. But like also those rockets go up. Really. They've had several very public tests and while they've had some high profile failures, they've also had some like really interesting success. And then the the boring company in the hyperloop seem sort of made their vaporware. All right. But these are all companies that are dabbling in areas of policy concern. Right? So like space has traditionally been just like the government. Does it right building transportation systems is something you know if the hyperloop and the boring, if that's worked out, it would be like governments are saying because we will pay you these tunnels. That's what it is, and even tesla and the, you know, the solar staffer. Those are both areas in which, especially under the Obama administration, there was a really strong government interest in making there be a robust private sector. Right? Exactly. So electric cars powered by renewable energy would be the solution to a public policy problem. So. So if you believe climate change is real, for example, it's like not just of private concern, whether a promising electric car company melts down and his record hidden accounting frauds Ray. And I'd also like to, I think I've got two separate points. One. I think it's interesting that musk, a lot of other people in Silicon Valley. Keep doing things that when you drill down to brass tacks, oh, you're creating a bus or you're creating a train, and it's very interesting to see people back. No, no, we're told they're gonna reimagined transportation. I'm like, you're a reimagining of transportation appears to have taken place in like eighteen nineties New York. But also I think it's interesting that because of what musk does. And because I think our colleagues over at the verge including Elizabeth lopatto wrote a great piece, kind of explaining the difference between a apple CEO, Tim cook, and Elon Musk, and part of the point that she makes is that because tesla. Advertise, it's very dependent on Musk's, quote, unquote earned media. And so in order for it to establish the sentiment and the sentiment that tesla wants to create is of being it's named after Nikola tesla. Like the point of tesla is to be like futuristic and interesting visionary. Yeah, yeah. And I'm just gonna quote from the verge piece. The sentiment matters most customers instead follow sentiment lately, that sentiment has been great. Tesla's cars are being delivered with flaws. Customer service has been quote, unquote a nightmare. And just this week, tesla scaleback the colors is offering a for its model three. Oh, right. And there's also an embarrassing thing about tesla crashing itself. By backing out of garage using summoned feature. What's more tesla is about ten billion dollars in debt hasn't had a yearly profit and is as a mentioned earlier, losing a lot of senior talent, right? So I actually don't super agree that must contest. Law are the same thing as the kind of standard Silicon Valley like, oh, you've invented a bus. I think it's really. Useful to contrast musk with Travis Hellenic of Uber because Uber is kind of was the peak. We're going to make money by just disregarding laws and assuming that everything the public sector has done is totally wrong in screwed up, and we're just going to ignore it until like law enforcement literally forces us to pay attention to the status quo. It appears at this point in time that Uber's business muddled did not have a whole lot to offer beyond that. But what musk is doing is saying, okay, here are some problems that things like MagLev trains where the US really is lagging behind other countries, things like renewable energy powered cars, that a lot of people agree. It would be a really good thing if they existed, the government does not currently have the resources to make those things exist on its own, but is willing to give money to people who are trying to or like offer incentives to make those things more real. Let's step in and I think. This that is made musk himself. It's it's given him a cultural capital that even much more successful forward-facing CEO's like Mark Zuckerberg don't have where like he gets credit, not just for having these wacky ideas, but for grounding them in. Look, we're trying to bring humanity into the future, right? Like he, he ultimately wants everybody to survive on Mars. Yati Yata. There's like there's an actual vision here that's beyond just making money, but that I think is where the kind of personal stress on Ilan musk in the relationship between musk and the various companies he runs gets really fraught. Because the fundamental question to me looking at kind of the portfolio of your on Musk's holdings is like, what makes a company right? Is a company. A product tesla is pretty clearly built around. They have this product line that they're working on. That's great. Is it an audience that they're trying to serve, which is not something that Silicon Valley tends to really invest in is like a. Rand identity or is the company a person. A lot of the concern about whether musk is going to get dumped from tesla is grounded in this question of is tesla, successful idea if Elon Musk isn't running it anymore, that I think is something that we haven't seen in Silicon Valley a lot because it's so assumed that entrepreneurs are there companies, and it's really worth thinking about when we're now at a point where this person like as an individual is clearly doing a lot of things that are not directly related to his company and his company's product is struggling late. What do we make of the relationship between Elon Musk and the company here? And it's interesting because I think that that relationship is really critical because when Elon Musk does something like tweet on August seventh funding secured to go private at, you know, four hundred twenty dollars per share. There was some interest from the SEC about that, and a lot of people descended. Tesla's biggest investor Baillie Gifford spoke to the SEC about the go private plan and the asset manager, James Anderson said that musk needs help. And I mean that psychologically as much it's practically because in the eyes of viewers and I think that it's a fascinating thing and it's actually in a weird way kind of similar to, but also different from yet went Trump tweets, triple tweet something, and we'll be like, Trump tweeted the sink, but then the Trump administration will do something else like Trump's not very hard on Russia, the Trump administration pretty hard on Russia. That is not. How would it appears. It works with tesla because when Elon Musk tweet something or says something or accuses someone of being a pedophile with no evidence and continues to argue about it on Twitter, which like a normal person does that reflects on the tesla administration. There's no Nikki Haley of the tesla administration to be like. Hang on what we actually mean is this. And so there is something worthwhile on having the front person of your company, be someone that people wanna follow around the internet and people want to watch your interviews on YouTube. The personification of corporate entity is a useful thing. I think in sometimes for branding, however, Dan, it goes really, really wrong when that personification is based on a person who now is doing very strange things and then blaming it on Ambien. So let's take a break there and then I want to dig in a little bit to the specifics of the tesla financial situation. Yes. 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Slash trial hazy u. r. e. dot com. Slash trial. Thanks to Microsoft Azure for sponsoring this week's episode of the weeds and for supporting the vox media podcast network. One of the things to me that makes illness companies and Heslin particular appealing relative to the current world startups is that it we're living in a world where interest rates are very low. They have been low for a long time where the stock market valuations are very high. Were corporations have a lot of profitability. Right. And what's supposed to happen in that kind of capital friendly world is that you get business investment and then the investment creates jobs, and it drives productivity and drives the economy forward, but would so many companies are doing is they're either like Facebook and Google, and their work is immaterial, like literally immaterial. So if Facebook decides it wants to invest in something, it's like they buy a couple more desks. But like there's no, there's nothing there. There's no Facebook factory where they make social networks, right. Oh, you have apple, which does make physical products, but their profits are just so gargantuan and they do literally nothing. With right, they pay a huge dividend. They do big share buybacks. They have like one hundred billion dollars in the Bank, right? And tesla is the opposite of that, right? Like does a has a lot of revenue, but like building cars is challenging and it requires machines and like metal and whatever you make tires out of all the industries that Donald Trump is trying to reinvigorate numeric. Exactly. It's it's tangible, but that makes it risky right? It means that he can't just go to his venture capitalist one time, get some money and then go every time he has an apparent success like more people would like to buy our cars, but then that means you need to make more car, right? Quote, unquote doesn't scale right in sort of Silicon Valley jargon. And that means that investor community confidence in the company is critical, right? If people believe that in the future tesla will continue to grow. Oh, then it makes sense to invest in tesla and then tesla is able to keep building the factories that would allow it to grow. Right, but it can only grow if people think it will grow. So the public facing performance of its CEO matters like critically, right? Because I I know people I spoke to my friendly neighborhood tesla owner before this, and he was like, I wish he would just doing some reporting. I wish I wish he would just focus on making the cars. Right. And I think that's like a common like car guy sentiment right is like he should just chill out and like just work on like getting the repair centers running a little bit better. I mean, that's good advice relative to getting high end Joe Rogan's podcast. But like it literally doesn't work like he, the company needs a front person who creates confidence, ran the exhibits company and one way to avoid that would be to. Take the company private, right? That would be to be off the public markets and have a relatively small number of very well. Heeled investors just own the company, right? Who it's who it's much easier to persuade at any given time. I know what I'm doing because all you need to do is call up a few people rather than making all of these public face. Yeah, it's it's a meeting rather than like an ongoing performance. So the idea of trying to do that isn't totally crazy. But normally when companies go private, it's because their stock price is low relative to the fundamentals. Right? And then read too, it's like the public investor community is pessimistic about this company, but you only need to find a couple of rich people who believed that the public is to pessimistic and then they become the private owners, but doesn't actually isn't like that. Right. It stuff valuation. It's like roughly, is valuable as Ford as a company. Even though there are many more Ford trucks on the road than there are tesla. So it's like he would like the benefits of being private in like not needing to be constantly accountable to the CNBC you know, worl-. But actually he has done a very good job of the public performance of CEO at least until the past couple of months. So it doesn't really make a lot of sense. And then you really not supposed to lie about the financial situation of a publicly traded company and to say, I, it looks like he's going to get not into any major, major legal trouble with the SEC. But like if ding has not been secured for your move to take your company private you, but really not supposed to say that it has been and he does benefit a little bit. You know, sometimes Trump will tweet things and you'll be like if another politician had done that, geo, but like with Trump a little baked into the cake, musk has like said enough loopy stuff that people don't take it too seriously, but he. Puts them in this exquisitely delicate position where like just shutting up and doing your job is not an option now, but his efficacy as a like, I make you believe in this seems to be headed downhill. Something else that's important to note is that there is a board of directors that is supposed to kind of keep Elon Musk in check. The issue with tesla is that musk is the largest shareholder the chairman of the board, and obviously the most famous person involved with tesla. His brother is still a director, eight years after the company went public, even though his brother Kimball is a food entrepreneur, and in general, every effort by the board to try and do things like split the CEO in Sherman role and adopt proxy access, which would mean that shareholders could propose their own board candidates hasn't really worked and like there's been talk about appointing a chief operating officer that hasn't really worked, we'll win. It hasn't really work. Worked lake, the board has considered and rejected. Yes, because if the board were parent and Elon Musk were teenager, the board would be the kind of parent who says it's totally cool. If you drink at home as long as you don't drive afterwards, which is a type of parenting, but maybe not the ideal type of parenting for this particular example, I mean, or maybe it is because as Matt said, like tesla knows it as a public company, it's going to need an ongoing public performance. And like since musk is so closely tied to tesla as an identity, jettisoning musk would really raise questions about, okay, so like what are we investing in any way? But this is where I wanna talk about the head butting incident because in a world where Elon Musk Joe's head down and says, okay, I understand that tesla isn't really about me. It's about the car. I am not super confident that that world actually results in more cars getting on the road. You know, when we talk about the head ends at this was something that happened. A while back, but just kind of came out recently that must visited a factory and was observing cars rolling down the assembly line and got really upset at a safety sensor feature that stopped the assembly line when somebody got too close and it was like, you know, this is slowing down production. He was told, no, this is a safety issue. Can't you know there's going to be danger of someone's too close to it, and then must went and headbutted one of the cars on the assembly line to demonstrate that it wouldn't be a problem. If somebody ran into a car that was moving on the assembly line that like this safety issue was overblown, which is like, obviously both very eccentric thing for a human being to do and weird thing to do to one of your products, especially when you have production issues where supply meeting demand like, and also there would be risks to the car. There also win. Your product is known for having safety issues right sample with the summoned feature, which musk advertised in two thousand sixteen would allow you to be in New York and say, like. I would like my car to come to me and drive itself from Los Angeles and musk was like, it should work anywhere connected by land and not black by borders. This'll be great. This is a great idea. It has not been great and has resulted in so far like no major injuries or anything, but it hasn't worked quite as well as people have have ho. Do the reason I want to talk about the head butting incident is because like it's not just that the car is going through some weird safety issues or that musk is frustrated with the way that cars are going thinking about a safety problem with someone approaching a car on simply line is the car will run into someone. That's what happens to pedestrians. That's not what happens to workers workers on an assembly line or going to be literally physically engaging with the car in different ways. And it's, you know, it makes a certain amount of sense that ACO broadly construed is not going to be thinking, okay, what are the minutiae of how a worker is going. To be physically entangled with a car. What are like the the various positions that he could be an, but that's why larger and more complex companies have tiers of decision making where the CEO isn't the one, you know, setting the speed at which the assembly line runs. I think we've seen from a lot of startups that have grown quickly, certain reinventing the wheel on like mid-century bureaucratic capitalism where ultimately, they realized that a large complex company needs a certain amount of structure and all the decision-making can't be placed in the head. It's not clear that must himself understands that that's the stage at which is company exists, but it's not just even the internal structure. Wait, I think a lot of the Musk's story right is that there is a ruled view of Silicon Valley, the excels at right, which is the sort of greenfield thinking, right? So like the whole way of doing business there that has produced some really successful companies and some really important advance. Is like, what if instead of doing things the way people do things, we did things at totally different way. Right? And that can let you make some achievements that that you can't. Otherwise chief and tesla is itself an example of that, right? Because the way other companies have been looking at it was I have a car. This car burns a lot of gasoline. How can I make it burn less gasoline. Right. And so you get with that like you use lighter metal, so it becomes more fuel-efficient or you get the hybrid engine that Toyota has right. Which Preez is much more fuel-efficient than than a conventional car, but still those hybrid engines. They start going into bigger cars. They're not themselves per se, fuel vision. It doesn't get you to zero, right? Where's the tesla idea? It's very Silicon Valley is like, what? If we forgot how cars work? And we instead said, we're going to make a car that doesn't use any gasoline, and they succeeded, right? Like it's not a car that is affordable and is on a car that's. Flawless, but it's a car. That's really cool. Like people who are rich enough to buy one seemed to enjoy these calls. Right? And that is what you were not going to get with a conventional business approach. That's like, look at the cars we have and how do we make them better because it's not better rated. It's an it's an evolution of existing cars. It's like blue sky, and that's the same thing with headbutting of these Sembler line. But it's a different kind of question. Right? And so the question there is like, how do you run an assembly line? Right? And I think if you talk to the people who run the assembly lines for Volkswagen or for Toyota, they would say like, not that there is no room to improve assembly-line operations, but that the question of how should assembly line work has essentially been solved long ago. Right? And like there's a, there's a phrase and the Japanese management Kazin like continuous improvement. Right. And that's like that's the philosophy of like Japanese manufacturing company is the exact opposite? Right? Is just like. Every day, let's think, can we make this a little bit better than how it is before running onto the shop for being like, fuck you with these sensors. I'm gonna head, but the car is like the opposite of that, right. You what you're supposed to do right is like observe these thing, develop a critique, write a memo to your boss for like how you think it could be changed to be a little bit better and then they can evaluate it right. But he wants to reset the deck, not just on like, how do you design the engine, but unlike how does this run like is it actually important that the car is not collide with the workers? And it's even conceivable that on some level, he's correct, but it doesn't work right. Like there's a reason why these other companies are software companies fundamentally right? Because like sometimes Twitter just brakes yet. Right? Like slack was down for an hour the other day, but nobody dies. Right, right, right. When you have large obj-. Moving through the physical world for better or worse, like we treat them with a great deal more conservatism, right? And I, it's interesting because the thing that comes to mind when I think but the assembly line incident is Fordism, which is kind of the obviously the assembly line. I came from slaughterhouses, but Henry Ford's whole concept was one. Why don't we just have a process that works the same way every single time so that unskilled workers finish a product by adding just a little bit at each time. And then by the end time you get to the end of the assembly line, you heavy completed vehicle, which was a magical concept in the early twentieth century, but also came with that was like, oh, the workers should be paid enough to be able to afford the car. That's also part of Fordism it. It's interesting because I think that the notion of disruption has really been in some views like weirdly fetish is like, why don't we disrupt this market? And there are certain. Things that should be disrupted like how things work does not need to be held things work forever. However, there is a reason why you have to stay a certain distance away from vehicles moving down the simply line. There is a reason why in general one does not just make rapid decisions late at night on Twitter about the financial stability of one's company. And I feel as if this idea that things need to be disrupted simply for the purpose of disrupting them, not for fuel efficiency, not for doing more to stop climate change or help the environment, but just for the point of doing it, like there is something to be said about like, no, there are certain things, especially with vehicles that have probably the most direct impact on everyday life. There was a reason why these practices have been around for such a long time and they don't need to be disrupted. This is a critique that we are not the first people on the planet to make, although that doesn't mean. It's not true of this generation of tech entrepreneurs, and I think it's it's more even than the fetish station of disruptions, the finishes ation of knife, Tae right idea that someone who is an outsider who is not coming in with any. You know, insider bias door status quo bias or preconceptions is going to be able to find the most efficient way to something this is coming back to the Joe Rogan thing. This is why Elon Musk smoking a blunt and talking about, you know, if you think about it, the world is just a big ball of lava with a floating on top is such a perfect distillation because there's a really fine line between a blue sky idea and like dorm room stone or conversation. Right? And that line gets blurred when you think that it's actually better for someone who doesn't have as much exposure to the way things work now to come up with ideas for how things could work in future. But it's interesting we had no copy editors. Oh my God. Yeah. Yeah, right. We we used to. So for a while at vox for a short while articles. Would go up with no copy whatsoever. And then for for some amount of time, there was a pure copy at it system which meant that we were saving money by not having a fulltime copy editor, but also meant that a bunch of people who had been hired for our like writing skills were now being asked to do this thing that was related to, but crucially not the same as the thing we been hired to do. It is remarkable the degree to which writing an editing are two separate things. Right, right. And and and we had to do it in this very fast amount of time because we wanted to be getting these articles up on the internet almost as soon as they were written. So extremely close readers of vox dot com would have noticed that around November or December twenty fourteen. Suddenly we went from having articles with very poor copy two articles with consistently very good copy because we hired a fulltime copy editor who subsequently instituted process of you have to let us know when you are writing things, and then we will read them before they go up on the site. But the really interesting thing listening to kind of the contrast. Between what you were saying, Matt, and what Jane was saying that it's not like continuous improvement is Ellian to Silicon Valley as a culture. It's just it's called optimizing iterative there, right? Like it's not like there isn't a concept of measure everything. Look at the ways you can continue to like hack the processes to improve them. It's just that mindset is something that people tend to exercise in their own personal lives where professionally, there's still this vegetation of what Facebook famously said called move fast and break stuff like you don't have people moving fast. Well, you do have people moving fast and breaking stuff in their personal lives, but that's where you get the kind of concerns that people have now about musk, it's considered much more healthy to track your sleep patterns and make sure that you're getting the proper amount of sleepy tonight. But then when you have the car on the assembly line rather than tracking the car in the assembly line and making incremental improvements to it, you're questioning the concept. Does the car really need to stop at? All right. It's. Interesting because our colleagues over the verge made that comparison between Elon Musk end Tim cook and this past week, apple head hits, you know, hurry new iphone presentation, which as people who follow this world in any sort of way means that for about an hour earlier this week on Twitter, all people just kept saying was it's bigger, which got very confusing, but the verge made the comparison that the apple event he served as Heitmann for was almost a painfully controlled presentation, and that is a message being sent to investors and to the populace at large, like we are not moving fast and breaking stuff. We were moving at the exact pace. We should be based on the current regulations based on the rules based on the great deal of research we have done, we are going to introduce this product and then around this exact time. Next year we introduce another product and you will buy them and you will like them or you won't like them, but you probably will like them just get used to it. But I mean apple success now. Now as built on their sort of dependability with this like each year they come out with new phones, they find ways to like make something that's a little bit more expensive than the last thing. You know, they produce these things at scale and pace that like is mind boggling. And like is such a logistical challenge. The Tim cook conquers year after year, but the whole reason they're in a position to do this right? Is that one day when everybody felt they knew what a mobile phone should look like? They came up with a mobile phone that didn't look like that at all. Right. And it had like big flaws right when it first came out. I mean, I remember a lot of the reaction was this is amazing. This is super cool, but a lot of the reaction was this insanely expensive. Freddie was manned much more expensive than previous phones and typing a phone. The other thing was this weird lake. Why do they call it a phone when you can't make very good calls on it? Wait, the phone calls were bad. The typing experience was worse than on the. Blackberry physical keyboard, right? It was the a true example of like blue sky thinking, right. And of course, like the first one, it's not like that many people bought it right, but as it went on right, computer chips reliably improve over time, so became more and more compelling to have this pocket computer. Because at first it was like, here's a seven hundred dollar pocket computer and it sucks. But like each subsequent year, the computer got better and better and better. And it turned out that having a seven hundred dollars pocket computer is really, really compelling, like more so than having really good audio quality or like comfortable, thumbs una keyboard or something like that. But you know, successful companies for better or worse have all found these kind of moments. I mean in Apple's cases is because Steve Jobs died in Facebook's case. It's because they like brought on a more seasoned business executive to be zuckerberg's sorted number two. And then he learned more about running a business. From her. In Google's case, they swapped CEOs a few times. Yeah, kinda like tag teaming, but you know, it's it's become a sort of established pattern right that like companies need to innovate and then eventually have someone who's more like a professional rans, accompany person either take over or assist, or you know do something because there's there's just a big difference between like outlining a visionary idea and pushing people really hard to come up with a version one and like operating something that that works reliably forever and ever. I visit we need to take another break. Yes. And then we should probably get into this more. Yes. Everybody to Patel editor in chief of the verge. I host podcast every week called the verge Hass. My friends, Paul Miller, indeed, or bone. We've got a rotating cast of characters from our entire site, which is about technology, how it impacts culture and how that is all a big cycle that causes us to have a wide variety of feelings that you can listen to. Every Friday we've done over three hundred and six years since avert has been around, but you'll need to listen to one the latest one to get caught up on everything in tech news, virtuous is on apple, podcasts, Spotify, everywhere else. You listen to podcasts, check it out. So something I wanna bring up. That's interesting is you mentioned Steve Jobs, you mention of the past of these companies and something that is a unique challenge notes seems obvious is the fact that Elon Musk is operating in a world in which people will talk about what he does on Twitter and every well, where else is a challenge that Steve Jobs did not have the notion of, obviously, CEO's of companies being public figures is a long held tradition as is CEO's of companies being eccentric is a weird way to put it. But let's go with eccentric that that's the term were using. You know, Henry Ford managed to be both a genius and a rabid anti Semite, which was something you know, Henry Ford were around and like two thousand eight might have, you know, takes up are buying Fords problematic. Extremely, not convinced that these. Are in any way in conflict rather than an expression of the kind of perfectibility slash exclusionary -ness of middle-class progressivism in the early nineteen hundreds and boy, I would love to do a podcast this. Finally, my incredibly hot takes about Woodrow Wilson would find a place, but anyway, appreciate the more academic tone on the Friday weeds. It is an interesting challenge because we think of tesla is not operating in a vacuum. Tesla is biz well, yes, tesla is relying on our perceptions of. In fact, it's been mentioned that because tesla does not advertise Elon Musk is what they have that is, they're selling appoint what he says or does all this free media exactly. We're, we're a part of this. We are served thank you. Know Elon Musk should be writing us all tricks with fancy money. That's the entire point of free media seizing on it. But like this kind of raises the question of, if Matt, you know what you're saying is these are this is something that like companies have kind of had to discover on their own that like each CEO has had to face a moment where the board has gone. We're taking the keys from you or relate writing in agreement that you only get the keys under certain circumstances or something like that. But there's obviously short term incentive to let must be musk, like. There's both a who watches the watchmen problem here. And I think more specifically, there's an ongoing critique of the people who have the money, especially like early seed funders in Silicon Valley that they're going for a particular kind of Boy Genius who has demonstrated like fanatical devotion to a single idea and doesn't care about sleeping and doesn't care about social skills. And you know is an autodidact white boy and that kind of thing. And that one of the critiques that's been raised is that that limits the kind of product that you're likely to see is really visionary, but it also means you're not selecting for people who want to be the CEO's of largest average companies. You're selecting for people who are going to feel an insane amount of personal investment in every single thing that goes out under their name, which is why I think the kind of like stress exhaustion stuff that musk has cited. Usually we treat that as a euphemism for they're going through more serious personal issues, but it's. Rex me is not implausible that someone with that mindset would be freaking the hell out looking at how much they they're responsible for right now. But if you have this culture and it is important to make clear that this is not a rational economic decision, it's not like people have tested here. Exactly the kinds of people who give us the return on investment over, you know, lots and lots of data points and lots and lots of decades. It's okay. We had a couple of really big breakthroughs with this type of person, so we're going to continue investing in that it what point does that become a norm that is wrong because once you have companies that really scale and make a lot of money, you end up having to take the keys away from the very people who made you all that many, I feel like musk is living down to a slightly unfair caricature of a corporate founder, right? Like a lot of things. The narrative that like venture capitalists are excessively into like. Boy, Genius like Autodesk's has some basis in reality. But also if you look at the like most successful kind of corporate narratives ride, like Steve Jobs, like messed up, his company grew in his own personal finances and then had to like rebuild from scratch, like out in the wilderness to, again become an incredibly successful CEO Jeff Bezos I saw was talking in Washington last night and he was talking about how his daily routine is like that. It's really important to get eight hours of sleep every night and that people underrate that that it's important to like be well rested and make sharp correct decisions, right? Just take tons of extra time and how also he has breakfast with his kids every morning, and you know, that's just like very, very different from like if you watch Silicon Valley on HBO this, these guys in this crazy dorm room and stuff like that. Although it's also of course worth noting like visas has is not. Not only insanely rich, but his been insanely rich and insanely successful for like a definite. Absolutely. But I mean, it's you look at the people who have sort of most succeeded here and Tim cook, like talks all the time about like how it's really important to like not just go do crazy stuff, which I think is the most telling thing about the musk situation because like the boring company, the thing he's involved with it, I know most about is like mass transit. And the thing that's so crazy about the boring company is that this is situation like we just know that the United States of America is nowhere near the global frontier of tunnel built. Right? I don't know exactly why, but it is like demonstrably the case that the people who build municipal tunnels in Italy and Spain are doing so for like a tenth of the cost of the United States, right? And that in France and Germany, they're doing it for about half the cost and China as well. And this is a case where. Whether or not some pie in the sky tunnel thing you could ever pay off someday. There's just huge gains to be made by learning to copy the best practices that exists somewhere. And that means that there's just no particular reason for an American business person who has other things to do with his time to spend his time trying to blue-sky tunnel built right. Like sometimes in life, it's like good to think about doing things in a whole new way. But like when, you know for a fact that there is some much better way to do them that is already being done and that what could really be helpful would be for some diligent, careful people to like learn about that. Like let the diligent careful people do it right, and go do something else because there's this tough line to walk with like you have a vision for a new kind of car that seems successful, but also there's the logistical problem of building it like like that's hard man like. That's like, that's the hard stuff. So don't pile on like unrelated unnecessary, hard problems like that just seems crazy. And you just genuinely don't see anybody else acting like that, right. It's interesting, but I feel as if there's something to be said that that craziness and the fact that no one else is doing it is actually part of Elon Musk and therefore Tesla's appeal like their stock price has gone up somewhat over the last week or so. And there are many people who are big fans of this purely because we don't see it. You know, purely because you know, I've seen ten cook, speak, and you know, it's not riveting. But you know, it's the kind of thing that you're like, oh, you know, he runs a company, Elon Musk going on a podcast and smoking a blunt, and again, not inhaling like that's something you do not see. And I think that there is this notion that we have where something being different. Is interesting and it just, you know, that's just how people work. But I also think that that in itself, at this point, Elon Musk could not become Tim cook. That is not going to happen because part of what Elon Musk is best at is being Elon Musk. Then I think that that's an interesting challenge to be so inherently linked, not with just a company, but with a style of doing things that this is kind of baked in now and there's nothing really the board can do about it. There's nothing really people around him can do about it because it both works and doesn't work. And I think that that's a fascinating challenge. I am not an organizational sociologist, but I think that, oh, I mean, I'm not organizational sociologist, but I realized that this is in fact another ration- of the max paper thing that that Nike coming back to you on Friday weeds about charismatic, bureaucratic leadership, like it's not wholly implausible for an. Institution that is built around a charismatic leader to transition to bureaucratic leadership. It is a difficult problem and this is, you know, I know that there are people who have spent their careers working on this and who could probably talk about some trends of organizations that successfully make that leap. But it is very obvious that it requires a willingness to not be a as medical organization anymore, right? Like you need to have an understanding collectively that you want view organization to continue to persist after the person who started it. No longer is there or no longer exists or something like that, and that there's a certain amount of kind of conscious culture building that needs to happen and also a greater tolerance for the things that are going to make it less efficient for that person to get what they want because what they want is not what the company is there to serve anymore. I don't know that it is fully baked into the cake that tesla cannot survive without Elon Musk. I think that we have seen. Look, it would have been very easy for apple when it was rebuilt under, you know, the return of Steve Jobs to be a Steve Jobs Centric enterprise, maybe a little bit less easy because it had existed as a company without him before, but they're really work questions, went him cooked took over for jobs of lake weather. Apple could continue in the way it has and wilder questions about whether he's been as good. There hasn't been like, oh, apple is dead now because apple raised Steve Jobs. So it's possible, but it's difficult and it requires accepting that you're gonna piss off the person at the heart of the organization. I mean, like as reclined is not Elon Musk at all. One of the key differences between as rainy Lon musk is that when you guys started a website as RA was perfectly willing to not be the person making all the decisions. And like in fact, now is not editor in chief so that he doesn't have to make all the decisions about stuff and can like be interested in the idea. That he wants to do. We had to do things like build a copy desk, not physically that would be hilarious, but you know, institute procedures that made it harder to get everything up on the internet immediately, but that made it possible for the site to run no matter who was sitting at the editor in chief desk. I also I want to say something because I absolutely have to, and I'm aware that it's probably going to bring everyone mildly down, but there are two points I wanna make one is that when we talk about being a Boy Genius, it's worth noting that Elon Musk is forty, seven years old. I think that there is something to be said about how we talk about specifically men in tech pantley, white dudes, specifically white dudes, and it's very interesting how a forty seven year old man who tweets random things about, you know, setting stock price rounding up a stock price to four twenty because it's entertaining and making strange decisions and tweeting strange things. And again, accusing people of being pedophile. We treat that. It's kind of like, yeah, like boyish nature of Silicon Valley. When this man is again forty seven years old, and I also wanna make the point that you know the people have been talking a lot about the smoking, a blunt on podcast thing, and we just had. Shooting in Dallas of young man named Botham gene who was shot in his own home by police officer who is now claiming that she thought it was her apartment which, again is her claim and last night a FOX affiliate decided it would be a great idea. The publicized that there is a small amount of marijuana in his apartment, which one makes no difference to the fact that the young man was murdered by an off duty police officer who is again claiming that it was her apartment. It wasn't, but also this idea that Elon Musk smoking, a blunt on a podcast is like, oh, it's a concern for shareholders, but it's also like pretty entertaining. And let's look use it for gifts, but you know, for a young man was yet drug test their employees? Yes, yes. They guess their employees is and also, you know, this was grist for the mill for accusing essentially a dead man of perhaps being culpable in his own murder. But I just I think it's really important to say something about how in the specific way is how we talk about. In Moscow and how we talk about people who are not Elon Musk or non white people in general or not men. It's very different and bothersome, it is extremely weird. Getting back to what Matt was talking about earlier in terms of like companies that scale that we're talking about, someone who even in the most conservative analysis is responsible for the being of a lot of employees as if like it is just a celebrity thing, and there is no actual consequences for the actions. And this is just a show we're all watching. I think that it is healthier to talk about Elon Musk that way than to talk about Donald Trump that way. But there's a weird cognitive incidents in which Texas or simultaneously the people who are going to save the American economy and the thing that we should. We should all be teaching our children to code. We should be teaching them to think like entrepreneurs, you know, because that's the real leading edge and treating the people who actually do hold those roles as if they have no responsibility and just free to do what they like because they're. Talents are what is keeping me economy afloat, much more than their actual like work ethic or professional value or anything like that. That said. This is a function of the culture that has been built. I don't know that it actually does matter all that much if you on Musk's personally more Suber individual that says something about the extent to which people who are like Silicon Valley CEO's are swat in layers of privileged and forgiveness and resources that most human beings don't have, but I'm not sure if he'll on Musk's a person who's responsible for others who retreating if he isn't or feel on musk, actually isn't that responsible for others? Both of those are super weird. Indeed, as a bureaucratic rationalist could've note that we've got to wrap this one up here, but thanks for listening. Everybody check us out. Of course, in the weeds, Facebook group at check out the weeds newsletter, box dot com. Slash weeds, hyphen newsletter. Thanks to our engineer Griffin, Tanner, our producer bridgette Armstrong, and the woods will be back on Tuesday. Keeping up with your competition is important, but taking the lead with unmatched innovation. That's impressive. 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