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    • Ryan Grove

      The S.E.C. is seeking to bar Tesla CEO Elon Musk from running any public company over his infamous "funding secured" tweet:

      Let's say they succeed, and Elon is forced to step down as CEO of Tesla. Can Tesla survive without him at the helm?

      Is there a scenario where Elon might remain at the company, perhaps working in an engineering or R&D role, while someone else runs it? Can someone else run Tesla better than Elon can if he leaves? Or are we potentially looking at a scenario like when Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985, leading to a long downward slide for the company that didn't end until he returned?

    • It feels to me that Elon Musk very much is Tesla. His own personal engineering and design decisions can be seen in the final product. That's probably rare for most CEOs of large companies. For good or bad, his personality and the way he operates is the culture of Tesla. In the end I'm sure that Tesla can survive, but something won't be the same.

      Tesla's future aside, I'm actually worried what this may do to Elon's mental health. In the recent Joe Rogan interview, there was a moment when Joe asked Elon what the world would be like if there were more people like him. Elon's response was:

      I don't think you'd necessarily want to be me. I don't think people would like it that much. It's very hard to turn it off. It might sound great to turn it on, but what if you can't turn it off?

      The look of Elon's face was one of a very tired man. Not sleepy, but almost tired of all the crap that is slung his way.

      The world still needs Elon, so I hope this doesn't stop him.

    • It feels to me that Elon Musk very much is Tesla. His own personal engineering and design decisions can be seen in the final product. That's probably rare for most CEOs of large companies. For good or bad, his personality and the way he operates is the culture of Tesla. In the end I'm sure that Tesla can survive, but something won't be the same.

      It's really hard to pin down how much of what's good about Tesla is Elon and how much of what's bad about Tesla is Elon.

      Elon seems to have a lot of bold ideas, and he has good taste in both engineering and design, but Tesla also benefits greatly from people like CTO J.B. Straubel, Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen, and Director of AI Andrej Karpathy. What's not clear is how much of Tesla's magic comes from them and others at Tesla vs. from Elon himself.

      My guess is that the biggest things Elon contributes to Tesla are optimism and sheer stubborn confidence (for better or worse), and that without him Tesla might be more boring and a bit slower and less likely to make bold bets, but could still be a great company.

      But that would depend on being able to replace Elon with a good CEO who understands Tesla's strengths and still has some taste. If his replacement is a Tim Cook, that could be great for Tesla. If it's a John Sculley, Tesla could be in for a very rough time.

    • What's not clear is how much of Tesla's magic comes from them and others at Tesla vs. from Elon himself.

      Yeah. It always amazes me how Elon can legitimately talk about the physics problems they face and the details of their mechanical/electrical engineering solutions. He makes it so convincing that he's the guy solving the problems. I guess that's part of the illusion that makes him such a great leader and makes it seem like he is Tesla.

      To continue the comparisons with Apple, this feels at lot like Steve Jobs and his direct reports like Jony Ive.

    • Let's say they succeed, and Elon is forced to step down as CEO of Tesla. Can Tesla survive without him at the helm?

      I would hope so but the stock price will be punished. What really needs to happen is Elon to leave for 6-8 weeks on an extended vacation from TSLA, SpaceX and whatever else he is involved in. Clearly the Model 3 push has left him exhausted and making silly mistakes on Twitter.

    • Wow. According to the Wall Street Journal, Elon and his lawyers were on the verge of agreeing to a settlement with the SEC when they suddenly backed out, leading the SEC to file suit.

      The SEC had crafted a settlement with Mr. Musk—approved by the agency’s commissioners—that it was preparing to file Thursday morning when Mr. Musk’s lawyers called to tell the SEC lawyers in San Francisco that they were no longer interested in proceeding with the agreement, according to people familiar with the matter. After the phone call, the SEC rushed to pull together the complaint that it subsequently filed, the people said.

      That's either incredibly gutsy or incredibly stupid. What were they thinking?

    • I am more skeptical than the average person when it comes to this guy. I think Musk is a grandmaster salesman, perhaps the greatest alive today. I also think this debacle with the SEC is within, not without, his normal behavior pattern. I am considering buying Tesla stock.

    • I guess the SEC didn't have much sense of humor about Elon's 420 reference to the price, being a cannabis culture reference. 😬 But that's part of what we love about Elon, no?

      For awhile I got obsessed with Walt Disney and had to read all the books and see all the documentaries about him. He lived life a little like Elon back in the day—restless, possessed with doing new, creative things, not financially responsible, exhausted and brittle to the point his doc ordered him to take a 3-week vacation. He fought with his brother and business partner Roy over first going into movies and then some crazy amusement park idea.

      I wish the brutal reality of business wasn't so harsh on people like Elon because it's hard to imagine anyone else being as fascinating and innovative as him. Tim Cook seems to be doing great at Apple, but we all miss Steve terribly.

    • There's an inflection point where the entrepeneur has to get out of the way and make way for real management. Entrepeneurs are hunters, which is great for getting started, but at some point, someone has to come in and start actually managing day to day process and expectations. Mr. Musk is there and the best thing he can do is get out of the way. His current issue with the SEC will not end well for him, in my humble opinion.

    • kbasa, this topic has always fascinated me because there is so much at stake. How do you explain the times someone like Jeff Bezos refuses to step aside when investors are calling for his head, and then he becomes so incredibly successful? Or when they successfully get someone like Pierre Omidyar to step aside at eBay and it goes the way of companies like HP and IBM when the founders are gone—losing the spark?

    • Well, we have an agreement now and I guess it could be worse. He has to step down as chairman but can remain CEO, and they have to pay a $20 million fine. I don't know whether to cry or be relieved.

    You've been invited!