So Tesla will stay a public company. But for how long will Elon Musk stay on as the all-powerful CEO?
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Surely, not much longer.
The man is exhausted. He's running Tesla, Space-X and The Boring Company. One person can't do all of that, and Musk's behavior proves the point. He needs help. Executive help. He needs a chief operating officer. He can stay on as founding visionary, but he can't run a cutting edge car company that is losing money, and can't yet bring production up to speed.
August has been a terrible month for Musk. Out of the blue he tweeted about taking a $60 billion company private. That got him into a legal mess. And everyone was asking what on earth he was doing. The stock tumbled. Musk looked foolish. Worse, he looked unbalanced. And when he was interviewed by The New York Times, he revealed his emotional turmoil. It was a laughing, crying roller coaster of an interview. Not the kind of thing investors want to see in the man who is in charge of their money.
Musk owns about 20% of the company, so he's got plenty of influence. He's not going to walk away, and he can't be forced out. But the board can lay down the law. And reading the tea leaves, that’s what’s very likely to happen: They will let Musk keep the visionary role. Somebody else brought in to make cars: That’s job one for Tesla. Produce the Model 3. Trying to do that has driven Musk into an emotional frenzy. Again, that’s not what you want to see in a car company chief!
This is a turning point – it’s the point where the dynamic, inspired founder, the thinker, makes way for the doer, someone capable of putting the vision into practice.
There must be something in the water in America: In the last 30 years, this country has produced Steve Jobs, the all-conquering Apple. Jeff Bezos, the behemoth known as Amazon. Mark Zuckerberg, the juggernaut Facebook. And now Elon Musk. OK, Tesla isn't quite up there with the giants just yet, but if Musk gets out of the way, who knows what Tesla could achieve.