Monday, October 01, 2018

2001 The Smartest Guy in the Room

Hey, Smartest Guy in the Room...

You know who you are.  Except probably you aren’t.

There’s a trend among clergy, business leaders, government officials and academics who think that’s the whole of their job description.  Most of them are wrong.

Look at Elon Musk.  Maybe he’s a visionary, maybe he’s a genius.  But his expertise doesn’t extend into two areas dear to him: Manufacturing heavy objects and staying on the right side of the securities law.

Over the weekend, Musk settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission and agreed to pay $40 million of his company’s money for boasting on Twitter about a deal to take his Tesla automaker private with financing that -- as it turned out -- wasn’t there.  That sent the stock on a rollercoaster and it’s still rolling.  Technically he has to pay $20 million and the company another $20 million but it’s hard to find the border between the two if there is one.

Give him the benefit of the doubt. He just didn’t know. And since he runs Tesla out of his hat, he evidently didn’t check in with anyone in his circle who might have known.

Under the settlement, he'll have to pass the hat to someone who fills in as Tesla chairman for three years. But he remains the chief executive officer.

Then there’s the building heavy objects part.  The world of automobiles almost universally salutes the Tesla as a Great Leap Forward in car design, performance and environmental soundness.  That’s great news.  The other side of that coin: they can’t bang out enough cars to meet their pre-sales.  Pre-sales, not “expected demand.”

The Tesla 3 is about 50-grand.  That’s not big bucks in today’s automotive market. But you can get a perfectly fine car from almost any other maker for half that or less.

The thing about mass producing cars is this: the art and science was mastered more than a century ago. It’s no longer rocket science.  If the Big Two US automakers can do it standing on one foot, as can another half dozen manufacturers in the Far East and Europe. 

The smartest guy in the room can dream it up. But evidently, he can’t make it happen.  

History is littered with the carcasses of the smartest guys in the room who weren’t. Here’s hoping Musk learns some humility, not to go public with his stay-awake drugs and 140-hour work weeks.  Let’s hope he talks to a financial adviser before becoming the donald trump of heavy industry and living in a Twitter world.  And most of all, let’s hope he hires production people who can turn that high tech factory into something that can meet a production schedule.

One thing the Kavanaugh hearings helped us remember: The republicans are rioting and on a looting spree.  They are burning the storefronts, overturning the cars, and have the cops outmanned and outgunned.  

--When this blog began in October, 2005, the goal was to knock out a few hundred and take the least worst for a book. Since then books have become obsolescent and here we are in spitting distance of 13 years later and just past the 2000th entry. Who knew?

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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