I have argued that there is no mind on planet Earth more different than Donald Trump and Elon Musk's. However, Musk is a lovely operator and has always been – and it is clear that he has learned some things from the top executive.
Trump loves chaos. His latest salvo – a shameful threat of knocking down the entire US southern border with Mexico, thus destroying the relatively robust, yet fragile, rise in the economy, as his taxonomy provides – is a classic example. No one knows what the plan should be, including Trump, and he likes it that way.
Trump sucks confusion and dismay so everyone is talking about is … confusion and dismay. It is an unfortunate addiction because even though his degrees of approval are terrible by historical standards, his economy is strongest for decades, and he has been able to plunder on a broad campaign promise that has become a kind of invisible: recovering the nation from endless foreign Warrior.
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Don't confuse my positive perception of these issues with a positive opinion of Trump. But it would be pointless to ignore Trump's extension of the postcritical crisis, and if I can find a thing to admire about the guy, it is that even though he appears to be a military pump and a relationship, he is something of a pacifist deep. Or at least he realizes that stupid wars should not be fought on open time schedules.
From Trump to Tesla.
What about Musk and Tesla? Well, it would also be pointless to ignore the electric car manufacturer's monumental achievement: to create the first new American car brand for decades. Tesla's sales in the first quarter were twisting 110% from the same period last year, carmaker reported last week.
Tesla now produces and sells three vehicles, and it has come to dominate the growing electric car market in about five years. While their economic challenges ultimately make up for the company's mass market ambitions, it still has a viable life raft in its luxury business, with appealing profit margins to keep up with.
You won't necessarily know any of this because the Musk / Tesla chaos engine has been overdoing for more than a year now. I can forgive you if you have lost the many, many controversies of the musk, but we received a reminder this week when his latest dustup with the Security and Exchange Commission had a hearing before a New York judge (both sides were told not their "reasonable pants") "and come up with a deal they could live with).
Musk is extremely good at designing, constructing and serving as a cheerleader and top seller for electric cars. I've run everything Tesla has ever built, and the cars have all been good. It's a difficult trick to pull off, especially for a guy who is at his first car company.
Musk is bad on the tedious but necessary plow of automatic production (he dislikes it so much that he has actively tried to reinvent it for three years). His reaction is not to go back and ask for help. Rather, it is to double down on the chaos.
This does not always lead to #TOTALFAIL. Musk's dream of a massively automated assembly line for model 3 sedans ran into the same problem that all work on massive automation has in the automotive industry – it did not work – and then Tesla quickly threw a tent line at the factory parking lot. It wouldn't have been unknown to Henry Ford. And it was generally ridiculed.
But see, it worked well and helped Tesla deliver nearly 250,000 cars in 2018.
It is time for Elon to hire a COO.
It was a large, beautiful tent and Musk could have celebrated innovative innovation sets a little more. Instead, he went back to the nutty tweeting and dank memes and along the way performed a fairly low key disclosure of Tesla's next vehicle, the Model Y SUV.
He doesn't seem to have it in him to change, as much as Trump doesn't. And maybe he shouldn't. One must at the same time keep two ideas in his head about Musk: that he is a trader of chaos; and that he is up there with Henry Ford and Enzo Ferrari and the small number of crazy, complicated visionaries who have created car companies.
Allow me to throw in a third idea: Tesla would benefit from putting the overall chaos in the past while accepting that Musk will not renounce madness. This is already in progress. Scrappy car manufacturers with executives out there usually do not produce hundreds of thousands of cars annually.
General Motors, for example, is a strictly disciplined business that racked up over 650,000 vehicle sales in the first quarter. Even when GM has been in trouble – it went bankrupt in the financial crisis, after all – it's important character has never been chaotic.
The best way to speed up Tesla's maturation has already been discussed a lot: considered a chief executive who effectively drives the company while Musk changes nothing. It would have happened already if Tesla (and to his credit, Musk) wanted it. And in truth, Musk has a skilled, long-standing lieutenant in JB Straubel who has already assumed some of this responsibility.
Tesla can be of great benefit if Elon lays low for a few months.
I like to say that I am more comfortable with Tesla's chaos because I have seen the Elon Musk show for a decade and I have seen it before. It's not that difficult to put the chaos in a box and focus on the business, as I have already mentioned, has had the most robust sales growth for some automaker in the industry, and reaps the rewards as revenue increases dramatically every quarter. Car companies should have huge amounts of cash flows through their balances, and Tesla is increasingly not an exception.
Unfortunately, the business boom has intensified the chaos and increased efforts. It's a viable strategy here, and it's called "layin" low. "Does that mean that Musk pulled the Twitter handle? No, but that means he could at least consider giving his chaos lawin a couple of months off.
The business can actually force him to do this. The result is a lower result in the first quarter, after two consecutive quarters with solid margins, and the car manufacturer can even fluctuate with losses, which does not mean Tesla's thoughts, but that means that execution is more important than the picture. sake I hope Musk has found it.