This in response to a column by FT alphaville: https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2018/05/25/1527220800000/Elon-Musk-plays-to-human-fantasy–and-the-world-plays-along/
Dan, you’re an investment specialist, maybe in your work culture, idealism is always to be met with scorn and snake oil platitudes. Your investors wouldn’t invest in telephony, in lightbulbs, in flying machines, not in internet companies or any other new technology because their only interest is to make money conservatively. While the inventors in the cave made fire, painted on walls, invoked spirits and designed wheels, the ancestors of investors sat there cracking jokes, humanity doesn’t recall their achievements.
What sets many tech investors apart is that they don’t buy into the company, they buy into the vision. They share Musk’s visions and believe he is the right person to achieve them. That’s a historical pattern that has proven itself often especially in automotive. Tech investors may bolt if they hold a lot of Tesla and the price plummets but in doing so they also have to overcome an inhibition that an investor merely looking for returns does not have: Tesla is part of their dream.
Why not Musk? Who else has brought the price of bringing cargo into orbit down fourfold within a few years? If you witnessed the Falcon Heavy launch you’ll realize that having a bunch of engineers examine technologies from a first principles perspective pays off. SpaceX has disrupted the space industry permanently and on a fundamental level. There’s good reason to believe that Musk will do the same in automotive because where others hold a few of the elements, he is well underway to provide them all.
Musk doesn’t claim to have invented anything, Ford also didn’t need to invent the automobile or the assembly line in order to perfect the process of car manufacturing. Musk doesn’t call himself an inventor but an engineer, not having discovered rockets does not disqualify any of the great technological achievements of SpaceX.
Maybe some analysts would do well to go on a camping tour, drink a few beers, smoke some pot, visit a sweat lodge, talk to their mom on the phone or do a burning man. Just to sufficiently get out of their comfort zone to get a bit of perspective from beyond the confines of the usual preaching to the choir?