Tag: Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s Bizarre Twitter Marketing Strategy

Nickolas Roberson | United States

Elon Musk is quite a curious and peculiar individual. The man has 120-hour work weeks and sleeps in his factories for days at a time, and he has also been seen insulting an analyst during a Tesla earnings call. Musk also appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast, discussed his companies and smoked a blunt, and has been accusing the British diver, Vernon Unsworth, who helped save 12 members of a junior Thai soccer team trapped in a cave, of pedophilia; the investor and business magnate is constantly stirring up a storm. Yet there is one thing that is the most peculiar of them all: his Twitter account.

The utilization of Twitter by CEOs of major corporations is usually very limited; their posts and tweets are low in frequency and presence, yet high in rectitude. The Twitter account of Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon is a prime example of this, with his postings consisting of the political support, history, and news concerning Amazon.

These corporate executives have surrounded themselves with and have had their lives consumed with the professionalism that runs rampant in corporate culture, with its pressed suits and ties, firm handshakes, and lack of personalization. They refuse to relax, unwind, and have some fun in their lives. However, Elon Musk appears to be breaking the mold of this, with postings such as this:

That’s right, one of the brightest minds of this century, the CEO of multiple, billion-dollar corporations, and the man pushing humanity to the stars is asking his 23 million followers for memes. A meme, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc. that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.” They’re the iconic Grumpy Cat, the mocking Spongebob, and the “nothing but respect for MY president” phrases that are posted and flood all of our social media accounts.  Yet this meme Tweet is not the first, and most certainly not the last, bizarre Tweet that Musk has shared with the world. There are others such as this, where he compared major social media sights to popular video games:

Or when Musk confessed his love and passion for anime, and that he owns a Wolverine chibi:

… after which he was quickly locked out of his Twitter account:

There was even a string of Tweets where Musk talked about his presumed past life of being a sponge:

Social media plays a major role in everyone’s lives; in the year 2005, only 5 percent of Americans used a form of social media, but that figure increased to 69 percent by the year 2011.  Thus, by posting memes and bizarre Tweets in general, Musk is marketing himself and his companies to the individuals who are entranced by “meme culture.” He is marketing especially towards Generation Z, who are young adults and teenagers born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Of people who are between the ages of 18 and 29, 88 percent of them use social media; these forms of social media include, but are certainly not limited to, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.

These individuals utilize social media differently than past generations, spending much more time on it than any other generation and by using it mainly for entertainment, rather than connecting with friends. Vibrant pictures and videos garner the attention of these young people, especially memes, with nearly every teenager today being absolutely absorbed by and addicted to memes. This addiction was confirmed back in 2016 when Google Trends discovered that “memes” surpassed “Jesus” in the number of searches on Google platforms. That’s right, the central figure of the largest religion in the entirety of this Earth, with 2.4 billion religious followers, was deemed less searchable than funny and absurd images on the Internet by the tech junkies of the world.  

Thus, by marketing his Twitter toward this “meme culture,” Musk is also gaining the attention of these young people, allowing his companies to create a customer base which will last for years to come. His absurd tweets begging for memes and discussing the Precambrian era aren’t instances of insanity as suggested by his stockholders and major figures in politics and media, but are a strategic plan to further the longevity of his businesses: Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, and the plethora of other ventures that the billionaire has started.

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Privatizing Mass Transit Could Solve the Global Gas Crisis

By Indri Schaelicke | United States

With oil and gas supplies dwindling, it is more imperative than ever that we cut back fuel consumption. For years, experts have been encouraging the populace to find ways to scale back. Easy ways to achieve this include carpooling, keeping vehicles up to standards that maximize fuel efficiency, walking, biking, and using mass transit. Public transportation infrastructure has greatly improved since the dawn of the concept. However, like any publicly funded program, public transportation suffers from several major issues.

Economic Flaws of Government Agencies

A flaw inherent to government agencies is that they have no incentive to turn a profit. These programs will continue to exist no matter how profitable they are. Hence, they have no reason to innovate and provide better, more appealing products. In the first three months of 2018 alone, the US Postal Service reported a $1.3 billion loss. A private business could not afford to experience such losses without going bankrupt, but the USPS has been doing this for years now.

In the years between 2001 and 2015, the USPS posted a loss in 11 of them. The Post Office has not been profitable since 2006, when it had a $900 million surplus. By comparison, UPS, a private mail delivery company, has posted a profit in excess of at least a billion dollars in 12 of 14 years since 2005. The company profited by $382 Million in 2007, and $807 Million in 2012. UPS attracts many more customers and makes a much greater profit because the goods and services it offers are more desirable to consumers.

Private companies must offer a desirable, in-demand product in order to make a profit and stay in business. A famous example of a company going bankrupt due to their products becoming obsolete is Blockbuster. The beloved movie rental store was run out of business because of the changing movie rental market. Customers were no longer interested in checking out a movie from a store, but rather, in on-demand streaming services. Blockbuster did not offer this, so its customers took their business elsewhere. As a result, companies like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon took off.

The Oil Crisis and Private Mass Transit

Current estimates say that the world could run out of oil by 2052. In addition, gas supplies will likely run on empty by 2060. In order to extend this timeframe so that we can find more reserves, we must drastically cut back on the amount we are using as a whole. Admittedly, automobile technology is making great strides every day, which will boost fuel efficiency and eliminate waste. However, this may not be enough. Experts have already been encouraging the widespread use of mass transit, a step in the right direction.

If the widespread adoption of mass transit is to be most effective, the industry must be privatized. Mass transit companies’ privatization would encourage the development of new, more efficient technologies as businesses seek to cut down on costs and offer better goods and services to consumers.

A prime example of the success privatizing mass transit could see is Elon Musk’s Boring Company tunnel in Los Angeles. Seeking a solution to the notoriously bad LA traffic, Musk has begun the construction of an underground tunnel, in which specialized vehicles will shuttle cars and people on a two-mile journey. By operating the venture in the private sector, Musk’s venture will avoid the ball and chain of the government bureaucracy. On the contrary, it can harness its profit incentive to drive innovation and provide the best services it can.

Failing Public Transportation

When governments run unpopular businesses, there is little to no chance for innovation. Since the foundation of Amtrak in 1970, the passenger railroad company has never generated a profit. The company has no incentive to survive the competitive transportation market, as it knows it will continue to receive government funding every year. A private company, however, could never afford to take losses for 48 straight years. It instead would need to innovate and create better services to attract customers. Mass transit must be privatized in order to promote innovation and bring costs down for consumers.

If the world is able to use privatized transit systems more than conventional automobiles, global gas and oil consumption will slow down, and the lifetime of our existing reserves will increase. This is crucial, as renewable energy resources are yet to be reliable and mainstream. Further development must go into renewable energy, and private mass transit will ensure that oil and gas do not run out before then.

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Tesla Lights Itself on Fire

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Tesla and Elon have had a rough time as of late.

Musk’s little trick to impress his girlfriend was not pleasing to the SEC. Neither was his subsequent appearance on Rogan, in which he decided to smoke marijuana on what essentially amounted to national television. After these events and a concern over Saudi Arabian tomfoolery, the SEC went ahead and sued Elon Musk.

According to the SEC report, Tesla stated that “it intended to use Musk’s Twitter account as a means of announcing material information to the public about Tesla and its products and services and has encouraged investors to review the information about Tesla published by Musk via his Twitter account.”

Clearly, they hit right on the money.

The 420 Tweet caused Tesla’s stock price to go up by 11%, but the SEC suit directly counteracted this performance. Musk’s Twitter antics reportedly “caused significant confusion and disruption in the market for Tesla’s stock and resulting harm to investors.”

Elon was understandably unhappy with the suit. The suit left him “deeply saddened and disappointed.” He moreover stated that he has “always taken action in the best interests of truth, transparency, and investors. Integrity is the most important value in [his] life and the facts will show I never compromised this in any way.”

The settlement resulted in Musk having to pay $20 million and an end to his position as chairman of his company’s board. He will, however, be able to seek re-election in 3 years and remains as the CEO, but the settlement is a blow to Musk nonetheless.

Dark Predictions for Tesla

Tesla has not been doing well either. Jeff Reeves of Market Watch made clear that he thinks Tesla has tough times ahead. This comes amidst declines in stock prices and trouble producing favorable news about the Model 3.

More recently, Business Insider echoed this sentiment. They made abundantly clear that people should not listen to anybody who doesn’t think Tesla’s stock price is “ridiculous”. They also explained that the debate surrounding the company was merely “between short-sellers who don’t understand its business and a new class of tech bulls who … don’t understand its business.”

Conversely, things may be looking up for Tesla and Musk, especially when it comes to the Model 3. Last quarter, the vehicle managed to be the 19th top selling car in the United States. This provides an interesting disruption to the status quo of leading cars. It also allows us to question if Tesla actually is in the downward tailspin we all perceive.

Between July and October, Tesla managed to sell 56,065 Model 3’s, securing the number 19 spot. Wired explains that this is the moment that the company moves beyond its niche. Tesla’s sales and production are up, and it was the fourth best-selling luxury car last quarter. The company seems to be on an upward trajectory.

It is unclear if Tesla will be able to turn this momentum into sustainability. As production of the Model 3 rises, so does the cost. Whether or not Tesla is able to lower prices and keep sales up is unknown. But the ship may be turning around.

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It is the Best of Times, it is the Worst of Times

“This illustration depicts NASA’s exoplanet hunter, the Kepler space telescope. The agency announced on Oct. 30, 2018, that Kepler has run out of fuel and is being retired within its current and safe orbit, away from Earth. Kepler leaves a legacy of more than 2,600 exoplanet discoveries.” Credits: NASA/Wendy Stenzel.

Craig Axford | United States

 We live in an age of discovery far beyond any other our species has experienced so far, yet we hardly seem to even notice. We live in an era of staggering loss, but we seem paralyzed by the immensity of the problem. Had Charles Dickens foreseen the early 21st century, he may very well have reconsidered his opening line in A Tale of Two Cities.

Over this past week, two news stories drove home the point that we’re living in an extraordinary time. The first broke on October 29th. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced the results of a report indicating that between 1970 and 2014, global wildlife populations had declined by a staggering 60%. Even if their estimates are off by half, a 30% decline over such a relatively brief period would still be alarming.

The second story, coming just one day after the first, was NASA’s announcement that its Kepler space telescope had run out of fuel and would no longer be continuing its stunningly successful search for exoplanets. NASA’s Kepler had discovered more than 2,600 planets orbiting other worlds during its lifetime, further dislocating humanity from its perceived place at the center of the universe. By revealing “that 20 to 50 percent of the stars visible in the night sky are likely to have small, possibly rocky, planets similar in size to Earth, and located within the habitable zone of their parent stars”, NASA’s Kepler seems to support those convinced that we are unlikely to be the only place in the universe where life has emerged.

The tension these two stories represent stirs something deep within me, and not just because they arrived within 24 hours of each other. Because of their coincidental relationship to my own personal arrival on this planet, they each, in their own way, reflect the seemingly conflicting currents of history that have become increasingly evident with age.

 I was born just one month before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the Moon. I also entered this world just a few months before the WWF’s baseline year of 1970. So the 60% decline in wildlife populations and the nearly 28,000% increase in the number of known planets discovered during my lifetime is jarring, to say the least.

 As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m not fond of adopting either optimism or pessimism as default outlooks. Going through life either perpetually cheerful or gloomy seems like avoiding confronting the world on its own terms, even if an often unconscious one. Even terrible news for us is good news for somebody. If you and bunch of your coworkers get laid off, odds are the company’s shareholders are happy. Even a corpse can be a reason to celebrate if you’re a bacteria or a vulture.

 I’m also not too keen on the way we often describe ourselves as a species. We tend to point to our impact upon the planet as though it was an indication either of genius or stupidity, leaving little room for the vast landscape of complexity and nuance that lies between these two extreme assessments. It’s just trade-offs all the way down.

As the Kepler telescope and all the other probes we’ve sent into space demonstrate, we aren’t idiots. That said, as the WWF study reminds us, scaling up our civilization to this point has also too often been an ad hoc operation that fails to consider all the possible consequences of our actions or quickly correct for them once those costs have become clear.

The progress paradox refers to a curious phenomenon that social scientists have documented over and over again: that there is often an inverse relationship between objective improvements in human well-being and people’s reported overall happiness. While those living in extreme poverty will report significant gains in personal life satisfaction following increases in income and access to resources, these gains don’t continue to follow a linear trajectory as income continues to grow. Instead, people’s happiness growth curve begins to flatten once their basic needs are satisfied. For many living in the wealthiest nations on the planet, they have even take a U-turn.

In a recent article published in the October 2018 issue of Science, researchers Carol Graham, Kate Laffan, and Sergio Pinto cite both the United States and China as strong examples of the progress paradox. “The United States has one of the wealthiest economies in the world,” the authors state, “yet life expectancy is falling owing to deaths driven by suicides and drug and alcohol overdose. This particularly affects Caucasians with less than a college education.”

In China, which “is perhaps the most successful example of rapid growth and poverty reduction in modern history,” with GDP increasing “fourfold between 1990 and 2005” and life expectancy during the same period skyrocketing by more than 6 years, life satisfaction none-the-less dropped significantly as the nation’s middle class ballooned and overall health improved. Graham, Lafan, and Pinto report that there too “suicide increased, reaching one of the highest rates in the world.”

In China’s case, however, it wasn’t those lacking an education but those with one that was “the unhappiest cohorts” surveyed. While they “benefited from the growing economy,” they also had to endure “long working hours and a lack of sleep and leisure time.”

It’s difficult to appreciate all the new planets being unveiled by instruments like the Kepler space telescope when our lives here on Earth don’t even allow us to get enough sleep. Furthermore, all our city lights are blocking out the stars that our ancestors previously enjoyed: stars that we can no longer see without first traveling great distances deep into the heart of one of the few remaining desolate landscapes large enough for us to escape the nearly omnipresent urban glow.

This rapid scaling up of our civilization without regard to its toll on the individual psyche is also happening without much regard to its toll on nature as a whole. Our inability to find the time to spend even just a few hours each week outside smelling the roses, let alone spending a leisurely weekend in the woods now and then, is directly connected to our failure to find the political will to protect the environment upon which all life, including our own, depends.

In his book On Trails, the Canadian author Robert Moor writes “We can travel at the speed of sound and transmit information at the speed of light, but deep human connection still cannot move faster than the comparatively lichenous rate at which trust can grow.” As with individual connections to one another, so it is with connections to our wider world. Slowing down enough to observe and build a relationship with the earth can only happen at a “lichenous rate”.

We cannot continue to pull ourselves out toward the stars and toward an ecological crash simultaneously. Sooner or later the lights will need to be dimmed not only for survival’s sake but so that our children can again see what it is we are reaching for. Reaching into the heavens can sustain our spirits and bring us the wisdom we need to carry on, but only if we take the time to look at what we’re finding there. Ultimately, even our loftiest achievements are still grounded here on Planet Earth.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him at Medium.com

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Elon Musk, Thank You For Smoking A Blunt

By Spencer Kellogg | @Spencer_Kellogg

Elon Musk, thank you. You didn’t have to smoke a tobacco and cannabis mixed blunt with Joe Rogan on what amounts to live national television, but you did, and as a recreational pot smoker, I thank you. In one Bill Clinton-esque inhale, Musk did more for the normalization of recreational marijuana use than decades of failed congressional lobbying and polite rhetoric from the aristocratic class of America’s ruling society.

Let’s be honest, cannabis is not a dangerous drug. It’s a plant that grows naturally across the entirety of planet earth. Marijuana, reefer, weed, smoke, chronic, ganja, grass, herb, pot, and dope are not dangerous drugs either. They are the loving terms of endearment for a plant that relieves the pain and stress of more than 230 million people worldwide. Smoking or ingesting cannabis is a completely non-violent crime. The federal prohibition of it throughout the United States remains a lasting scar on the ideas of liberty and freedom that our founders fought so eagerly to establish and preserve.

With a whiskey in one hand and a dubious smirk on his face, Musk asked if pot was legal in California before taking one small puff for man and one giant rip for marijuana mankind. It was a moment that crystallizes Musk as a sort of Steve Jobs 2.0: a risk taker willing to think and act beyond the petty and insignificant grasp of shareholders, dividends and acceptable business decorum alike. He didn’t smoke to get high – he smoked to prove a point.

That point is strikingly clear – cannabis is a mild stress reliever of no harm to anyone and it’s about time we start treating it that way. Rogan has been doing this for years on his podcast. In fact, when I first heard that Musk was going to be on Rogan, my first thought was if Musk would venture to smoke with the podcasting giant. Although Fox News and CNBC were clutching their pearls as the morning bell saw Tesla shares drop 20%, I couldn’t help but feel the sort of pride that only comes from witnessing a truly revolutionary act.

The pundits in the media didn’t think too much of Musk’s blunt rap. Neither did two of Musk’s top executives who jumped ship on Friday morning as the share price of Tesla spiraled downward. Musk admitted during the interview that he has only smoked marijuana a few times in his life. So why was he lighting up with Rogan? The inherent beauty of Musk’s pot smoking is that the CEO knew his stock price would shutter the next morning but he decided to act in accordance with his own ethics of free will and decency. In the hyper-corporate tech world that often seems as if it’s treading across an ever-present veneer of polite progressive politicking, Musk lighting up with Rogan feels like a singularly rebellious act.

While Musk’s unrepentant and unapologetic attitude has gained him an adoring, cult-like fans, smoking weed with Rogan was the culmination of a summer-long PR nightmare for institutional investors. With a three-month tour de force that included a promise to take Tesla private for $420 a share, mudslinging gossip with rapper Azealia Banks and juvenile allegations of pedophilia against a Thailand cave diver, Musk has successfully tanked the value of Tesla. Questions still linger regarding production and management within the futuristic hi-tech company.

Across the country, Americans are hounded and harassed daily by an overpowering police state still treats the plant with the same ‘reefer madness’ disdain of their grandparents’ generation. In many areas of the country, possessing as little as a gram of the plant can have serious legal ramifications including jail time, loss of job, loss of driver’s license and the heavy economic burden placed on defendants in a for-profit court system.

The road to marijuana legalization in the United States has been a long and winding one that has seen constant, malignant abuses at the hands of federal and state governments alike. While Musk’s tight-lipped puff is only a minor blip on the timeline, it serves to paint an intimate portrait of the work that has been done to normalize its consumption. Often maligned, criticized, and joked about, Musk put his reputation on the line for a group of people that he owes no allegiance and in doing so showed his commitment to freedom and liberty.

For that, Elon Musk, I would like to say thank you.

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