In my line of work I read about the adventures of Elon Musk, from second hand sources, almost daily. Recently there has been some pressure applied to Mr. Musk, which should not be surprising.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I am a cheerleader for and defender of this man. And he is, after all, just a man. But he’s not like other people. He is the leading visionary of our time. He has the pitching skills of Al Gore, the instincts of Thomas Edison, the vision of Steve Jobs, and the heart of Nicola Tesla.
Elon Musk’s mission is to save the world. There are others with this kind of mission, but Musk and his companies have emerged as game-changing disruptors in five of the most important industries on earth, and the key contributing sectors to C02 and methane in our air.
In the personal transportation sector he pretty much invented the modern electric automobile and holds the leadership position in that business.
In addition, heavy trucking is being changed by the entry of Tesla into its market, with a highly creative Semi design.
In government transportation, his innovative rapid transit solution being built by The Boring Company has such excellent operating cost numbers that rides will be priced at just $1.
In construction, Tesla is jockeying to become the leader in the practice of building a roof that is also a power generation system. This will likely give SolarCity a head start, in another category, popularized first by a Musk company, and extremely forward looking.
All of Musk’s technologies are strategically brilliant, not only in their capabilities and advantages, but also in their relationship to the future.
SolarCity also offers the opportunity to penetrate deeply into retrofit project finance. The potential spinoffs in what is one of the best future construction sweet spots, are also worth noting.
SpaceX has annexed and is privatizing NASA, and has already invented the first recyclable spaceship. It can take off and land on land, and remain I think, more or less intact, during the process. This adventure may also permit SpaceX’s entry into other areas of the aerospace or airline business, another key, polluting transportation sector that is ripe for disruption.
I don’t fully understand the goal of colonizing Mars, although I admire the narrative. It demonstrate’s the significant measure of hope that inhabits Musk’s worldview (or universe-view).
But sticking with the strategic discussion, SpaceX also has a virtual monopoly on the personal space travel business, and a huge advantage in the satellite and global telecommunications businesses.
SpaceX also allows Musk to continue to surround himself with the very best scientific and engineering minds on the planet, and magnetically attracts powerful government and military brokers, academics, and big thinking gazillionairres. When the knives do come out, the assassins may not find it too easy to take down a well-connected operator like Musk. He’s got favours to call in.
In the business of power plants, Musk installed $50 million worth of batteries at an Australian station and reports that the utility will save about $100 million in the first year, due to the benefits of the storage solution. This is a remarkable value proposition. Every power operator in the world should be paying attention, and probably is.
The achievement with the power plant went a little underreported due to some noises coming out of Wall Street after Musk revealed his impatience with the big swinging dollar people. He threw his swagger around a bit when someone suggested he would miss the Australian deadline, too, betting the $50 million in revenue that he would deliver. Deliver he did, so I guess the swagger is earned.
THE REINVENTION OF THE AUTOMOBILE
And that’s a key point. The swagger is earned. There’s no one like Elon Musk. The latest reports are that he’s getting the deliveries under control (more than you can say for GM and the Bolt), and Tesla’s electric car business model looks like it will become a profitable Apple-style behemoth. –Always a step ahead, leading the market with the highest quality reputation, which will accommodate both margin and volume possibilities. The difference is that a Tesla 3 is priced at 50 times as much as an iPhone.
If he manages, in the challenging automobile manufacturing business, to pull off mass vehicle production, getting on top of deliveries, and maintaining Tesla leadership in the category, it will be an incredible feat. This is a complex consumer product, the second most expensive purchase made by an average person in his or her lifetime. The difficulties for automakers are legendary, including manufacturing glitches, recalls, supply chain challenges, sales and service organizations, advancing technology, regulations, global production, and international markets.
On top of jumping into one the world’s most complex and competitive businesses, he has introduced the most disruptive technological solutions ever attempted in that industry, and is already a sales leader. He is also further advancing robotics in manufacturing, and developing expertise with autonomous vehicles.
If Musk continues to succeed in most of these endeavours, which I am beginning to think he will do, he will combine unprecedented business victories, unparalleled industry disruptions and economic upheavals, and world-saving heroism of historic proportions, all into into one human life.
(Note to Elon: Hope you liked the story. I’ll look for the cheque in the mail 🙂