Tesla Point Man Danger Heightened By Elon Musk’s Twitter Research

Elon Musk appears to be making amends for his failed attempt to take Tesla private years ago. Twitter lets her try her luck once again, this time with the social media platform. Although the “funding obtained” for this acquisition remains a mystery, he managed to persuade Twitter’s board of directors to accept a $ 44 billion offer which, if accepted, will be one of the largest. leveraged buyouts of history.

“Although Mr. Musk spends a lot of time with Tesla and is very active in our management, he does not devote all of his time and attention to Tesla,” the company warns in quarterly filings. Musk also runs SpaceX and is involved with tunneling firm Boring Company and machine-brain interface developer Neuralink. The fireworks of the past few weeks around Twitter again underscore the value investors place on Musk’s part-time role and how invested he is in the company — figuratively and literally.

This raises questions with huge implications, from who will install Musk to lead Twitter, to how will he attempt to monetize a platform that depends on advertising. What I wonder, though, is what will all of this mean for Tesla? The electric carmaker has long been clear about its heavy reliance on its “technoking” and its CEO. Musk has claimed the tongue-in-cheek title for just over a year and has been CEO since 2008, a period longer than the top bosses of any US, German and Japanese automaker. But he also never focused entirely on Tesla.

Tesla’s stock plunged 12% on Tuesday, apparently on lingering concerns that Musk would have to sell a substantial portion of the 172.6 million shares he owns to cover nearly half of Twitter’s funding. We already know that he takes substantial margin lending risk. There is also the fear that Musk, 50, is too thin a man. This anxiety is based in part on traditions that Musk himself has maintained, often via tweet. He’s written over the years about sleeping only a few hours and spending nights at the Tesla factory.

At SpaceX, Musk has a capable and clear No. 2 in Gwynne Shotwell, chairman of the rocket company and a director on the board. At Tesla, it’s not so obvious who’s second in command. The company appoints only three executives to its leadership team: Musk, CFO Zachary Kirkhorn, and Drew Baglino, who is effectively CTO.

Tesla is, of course, executed to a much higher standard than it was during its time in “production hell.” Walter Isaacson, who is working on an authorized biography of Musk, vouched for his subject’s ability to juggle running multiple businesses on Tuesday: Musk’s skills aren’t limited to multitasking. He has demonstrated an ability to focus on the problems of his various businesses and enjoys solving complex engineering problems.

Kirkhorn has been something of a prodigy since taking over as chief financial officer in 2019, and he and Baglino have played increasingly public roles over the past two years on earnings calls and at events like the battery day. But Musk didn’t elaborate on how comfortable he was handing over the keys to someone else. In fact, it has sometimes given shareholders cause for alarm.

“If Tesla investors knew the extent of all the things I do at Tesla, they would be very concerned,” Musk told New York Times columnist Kara Swisher in September 2020. “Not because I want to, but it’s just, OK, I need to do this, I need to do this. I can’t find anyone to do this.’ was trying hard not to be the CEO of Tesla, but I had to or he would die.”

Musk’s willingness to sue Twitter reflects how better Tesla is today than it has been in the past. But if I was a Tesla shareholder, I’d be on the phone with Investor Relations asking for a lot more clarity on his succession plans.

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  • Tesla Point Man Danger Heightened By Elon Musk’s Twitter Research
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Brandon D. James