Tag: SpaceX

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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The Enigmatic Elon Musk

By Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

In Elon Musk’s marvelous 2017 tell-all for Neil Strauss of Rolling Stone magazine, the Tesla CEO was brief in his assessment: “If you’re going to make a product, make it beautiful,” Creator of four, billion-dollar companies and labeled by the New York Times as “arguably the most successful and important entrepreneur in the world,” Musk is a singular creator with audacious plans to test the limits of scientific inquiry. His creations are of an industrial scale and often pose deeper philosophical questions about our existence, most notably, “what’s next”? Whether he’s boring holes underneath an American metropolis or building batteries that could surpass the power and storage of any units we possess today, Musk has consistently shown a committed interest in pushing the limits of technology, travel, and communication on behalf of humankind.

When Elon Musk took Tesla public in 2009, shares of the tech company were originally valued at $17 dollars. A $1,000 investment in Tesla at the time would today be worth nearly $20,000 representing a 1,889% percent increase in value. Although Tesla has been dogged by claims of underperforming sales figures, missed production deadlines and scandalous social media outbursts from Musk himself, the stock price has continued its quick ascent up the charts in the past month with a miraculous +16% one-day gain after the release of strong quarter two earnings last week.

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On Tuesday, Musk shocked financial and technology markets when he tweeted his desire to take Tesla private at a price of $420 a share, valuing the company at more than 70 billion dollars. In typical Musk style, the price of $420 appeared, to some, a playful nod at the annual marijuana holiday. A businessman who revels in play and has found fame behind a quixotic aura, Musk takes pride in bucking norms and saying whatever he likes, especially if it’s a joke.

Recent verbal attacks against a cave diver who helped rescue a group of stranded boys in Thailand and bitter squabbles with investors had landed Musk in hot water this Summer. But Musk’s suggestion that he would take Tesla private launched a late session buying frenzy that saw the share price soar more than 11% on the day before trading was halted on the floor. Some of Musk’s loudest critics cried foul and suggested that the tycoon’s tweet was possible manipulation or even worse, security fraud.

Although an uncommon strategy, privatization has been used by other high profile companies such as Dell, Hilton & Panera Bread. Private ownership can free up time and space for management to focus on product building without the weight of investor sentiment and the pressure of quarterly results. Private companies are also not subject to SOX regulations (Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002) and do not have to file reports with the Security and Exchanges Committee.

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By the afternoon more big news was breaking from Tesla headquarters. According to media reports, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has built up a 3-5% stake in Tesla since March of this year when he visited The United States and met Musk. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is currently in the process of investing nearly $100 billion in companies and projects that will modernize the Saudi empire and Mohammed bin Salman has placed energy-efficient vehicles and Musk’s visions at the top of the list.

Elon Musk has always done things a bit different. At the height of the tech boom, he dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Stanford and built Zip2, a company he would later sell to Compaq for 22 million dollars. From there, he acquired PayPal and turned the company into one of the most in-demand technology platforms used in the world today. In 2002, he received over $160 million for his 11.7% stake in PayPal for his share of the company. Musk had bigger plans.

By the early aughts, space exploration had gone completely out of vogue. What was once seen as a valiant pursuit for knowledge and truth had become an expensive, rudderless tax hole for the American public. While the federal budget for NASA has fallen sharply over the past two decades, Musk has invested heavily in his SpaceX project. SpaceX is a private company that is unaffiliated with Tesla and has seen great success in the past few years behind its production of reusable rocket technology.

With the goal of creating economically feasible space travel, Musk has spoken of his future interest in potentially colonizing the planet Mars. Still in its infancy, SpaceX has managed to secure massive contracts with NASA and this week announced that they will send several of their own astronauts on a cooperative mission with Boeing to dock with the International Space Station. In February, Musk, SpaceX & Tesla captured the imagination of the global community when they coordinated to launch a Tesla Roadster into space on a Falcon Heavy X rocket.

In many ways, Musk is reminiscent of those wide-eyed dreamers who revolutionized the personal computer space and early internet over the past half-century. Those machines, which at the time seemed far-fetched and devoid of meaning in the everyman’s life would come to transform the way we interact with technology and communicate with each other in the 21st century. Although questions remain regarding Tesla’s viability in the open market, Musk’s products hold the same promise of a revolutionary tool that will pass from being a desire to a global, societal need. And with an eye for the granite type minimalism that brought Apple and Uber success in the modern market, Tesla and Musk possess the will, style, and cultlike charismatic drivetrain that often propels great companies to unthinkable heights.

Nobody knows how well Tesla is really doing. While their fanboys circle the wagons, others keep a watchful eye on production metrics and Tesla’s car lots that appear to have idle vehicles sitting and waiting in purgatory to be bought. The company is also well-known for burning through cash at an incredible rate and are allegedly saddled with a large enough amount of debt that some analysts suggest Tesla could experience a credit downgrade. Are Musk’s plans unsustainable?

Hours after his tweet this morning, Musk sent a private message to employees at Tesla which confirmed that he really is considering taking Tesla private. The message was republished for the public to see by the afternoon. It read, in part:

First, a final decision has not yet been made, but the reason for doing this is all about creating the environment for Tesla to operate best. As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla, all of whom are shareholders. Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term. Finally, as the most shorted stock in the history of the stock market, being public means that there are large numbers of people who have the incentive to attack the company.

I fundamentally believe that we are at our best when everyone is focused on executing, when we can remain focused on our long-term mission, and when there are not perverse incentives for people to try to harm what we’re all trying to achieve. – Elon Musk

Promising a vote by the shareholders before any decision is made, Musk pointed to his success with SpaceX which remains a private company. The Tesla CEO also assured investors that he would consider making Tesla public again in the future after the company had proved a “slower, more predictable growth.”

In many ways, Tesla and SpaceX only scratch the surface of what Musk is building. His brand new A.I. chips are alleged to be ‘more advanced than Nvidia’s.” His Boring Company has laid blueprints for a new type of travel that would use pods and possibly cars to shuttle passengers through underground tunnels underneath of large-scale urban sites. In the solar sector, Musk has found difficulty capturing a market. Although Tesla’s $2 billion purchase of Solar City in 2016 has been criticized, Musk now owns a viable product that provides high risk/reward if solar power shows higher adoption rates in the coming years.

Oh, and did I mention that he’s dating Grimes now? Yes, that Grimes.

Hounded by critics and doubted from Tesla’s first opening bell, it makes sense that Musk feels the walls caving in around him to some degree. Looking to the future, his companies are attempting to lay the groundwork for a new type of travel, energy, and communication that is capable of exploring the external worlds of our universe while revolutionizing all society on Earth. In the 21st century, the enigmatic Elon Musk represents the great lineage of Americans who have dreamed of the stars and changed our world forever.

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How The Government Ruined Elon Musk

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Elon Musk is a brilliant man. His work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, and idealism make him a major role model in my life. He looks at things differently than anyone else and builds things other people fear to even imagine building.

But maybe there is a reason other people fear to imagine the things he creates. And it may be because nobody actually wants them. Years ago, LA Times released the notorious breakdown of the governmental assistance Musk and his empire have been receiving. When totaled up, Elon is receiving a hefty sum of nearly $5 Billion (probably over that by now) from the government. Which in turn, means out of the pockets of the taxpayer.

I do not hear the end of remarks of Musk’s cronyism when I bring him up in Libertarian circles. People jump on the opportunity to belittle and deride him for his acceptance of the state’s money. But I don’t think this is the attitude that one should take about Elon. Instead of one of anger, it should be one of regret and pity, because Elon has found himself in a bad situation, and he may even know it.

Free market capitalism shines through the greatest whenever the brilliant ideas of an entrepreneur meet the demands of the consumers. It is how the market is hard-wired to work. An entrepreneur has an idea, and this idea will only be profitable if and only if it is designed to satisfy the needs or wants of consumers.

A business will go bankrupt if it does not sell things that consumers desire. That is the beauty of the market. Some call it forced altruism, some praise how it ties selfishness to helping others. All I care is that every single party is made better off by its workings.

There is, though, one exception to this matter. That exception is the state. When the state apparatus gets involved in the matters of a company by means of handing out money in one form or another, this distorts the entire system. If a company receives money from the government, their burden to serve consumers is lifted. This is because now the company only has to fulfill some arbitrary obligation to the state to now receive its paycheck.

The state has many more means of funding a business than the American consumer. The state has the option of inflating the currency, deficit spending, or just taxing citizens to garner funds for any project. What all three of these methods have in common, though, is harm to the consumers.

So when a business gets government funds, it flips the entire game on its head. Rather than helping consumers, they only begin to harm consumers. Jenny Beth Martin stated on the same subject:

Crony capitalism relies on government picking winners and losers. It depends on government choosing to move resources to a favored enterprise, even as it refuses to move resources to disfavored enterprises.

By definition, that distorts the marketplace, and warps investment decisions better made by private stewards of finance unencumbered by political considerations, whose only fiduciary responsibility is to those whose funds they manage. By adding the political calculus to the decision-making matrix, it alters outcomes, and prevents the most economically efficient deployment of limited financial resources.

The problem is pretty clear.

One may object “but consumers do want electric cars, so it is all ok.” Maybe consumers do want electric cars. I would gladly take a Tesla. But the problem is that nobody wants an electric car at the price point that Musk is selling them at. Denmark removed subsidies from Tesla, and henceforth Tesla began to suffer in Denmark.

So why shouldn’t we hate Musk, and why should we pity him instead? Because the guy is one of a kind. Very few individuals have the drive and idealism that he has. There are geniuses, entrepreneurs, and intellectual superstars in the world, but very few compare to Elon Musk.

So he should have the play the same game as the rest of us. He has brilliant ideas, but they are being wasted away on things that consumers don’t exactly want. If the government subsidy safety net was pulled away from the Musk business empire, imagine the consumers that would be served and innovation that would occur. The man would be able to do unimaginable things for our society.

Maybe what he is doing right now could work for society. But the government gets in the way of that once again. The state really likes oil. It has since good ol’ Texas Oil Man Bush Senior took the White House, and then started to take the Middle East. The subsidies Musk receives are dwarfed by the subsidies that the oil and gas industries receive.

The answer is to put the electric car industry and the non-renewable resource based cars on equal footing. But that does not mean give them both billions of dollars; doing that would only distort the market more.

Rather, the total amount of money both industries should receive is a grand total of zero dollars.

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Elon Musk Leaves Facebook Following Data Collection

By Mike McCosker | United States

Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of SpaceX , Tesla , Neuralink , the Boring Company, and the former CEO of Paypal, has left Facebook. 1 Musk also deleted the public Facebook pages for both Tesla and SpaceX after learning that Facebook gave the private information of 50 million users to a political data firm. The political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, was hired by President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to help identify and influence voters. 2 Only 270,000 of the 50 million profile users consented to participation in the data collection. 3

Elon Musk’s reaction to this sort of illegal and unethical behavior was to delete the pages of his two largest companies and his personal account. Musk deleted those accounts because he distrusts the way Facebook handles consumer data, and stated that, “[Facebook] Gives me the willies.” 4 There has been a growing trend on various social media platforms, to delete Facebook the data scandal. This trend is commonly identified by the hashtag #deletefacebook.

Musk’s decision to leave Facebook comes shortly after a recent incident, in which Kylie Jenner left the Snapchat, causing the company to lose over $1 billion in stock value. 5 Jenner’s example should cause social media giants to try and retain celebrities. Elon Musk, while not in Hollywood, is a celebrity, and his loss from Facebook will cost the social media giant millions of dollars.

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Elon Musk’s Boring Company Is His Most Exciting Project Yet

By Spencer Kellogg | United States

Elon Musk can’t run for President of The United States. I know this because I checked a long time ago and then I checked again recently:

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Disappointment for a second time.

Lovingly compared to the comic book tech titan Tony Stark, Musk is one of those rare thinkers that has the vision, money, and hutzpah to significantly move our human civilization forward. His politics are a futurist medley of populist libertarianism and he is right at home warning on the future dangers of Artificial Intelligence:

His failures with countless Tesla rollouts have been well documented and the quarterlies for Tesla have not looked good. His promise of a “mass-market” vehicle that can meet the energy efficient demands of consumers has nearly become a running joke. Tesla, for all intensive purposes, feels decades away from turning a market away from the insatiable bank accounts of oil executives. Which is why Musk has been looking into other ventures. Namely, rockets and tunnels.

First, the rockets:

One of the great obstacles in the exploration of our universe is the immense costs associated with rocket technology. By producing a rocket that can land on a pinpoint location, SpaceX will cut the prohibitive costs of space travel and allow for low orbit missions that include the Moon, Mars, and asteroids for mining. With the federal government as uninvolved as ever with space exploration, accurate and reusable rockets are among a new class of assets that will only grow in necessity and value.

But what about simple problems on earth? Like traffic. Our roads and bridges are falling apart after decades of poor maintenance and the need to address transportation issues of today is critical. As Trump calls for a 1.5 trillion dollar infrastructure plan, Musk has suggested one alternative to the transportation builds of the 20th century:

The Boring Company.

The Boring Company’s idea is simple: dig into the earth and create massive tunnels that can transport humans with efficiency and timeliness throughout the Southern California area and beyond. The thought was birthed one day as Musk sat through another day of insufferable Los Angeles traffic:

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The tunnels will be multi-tiered with as many as 12 layers of underground transport. Users will board autonomous transportation pods located in public areas the size of a parking space. The pods will lower into the ground and act as an updated subway system to transport people to their destination in a timely manner. According to the image on The Boring Company’s media page, the initial plans show paths that crisscross Los Angeles:

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One major obstacle that Musk will have to hurdle is California politics. Just last week, Californians were informed by state officials that the proposed price of the above ground bullet train project has more than doubled in estimation from an initial $33 billion dollars to a now staggering $77 billion. Some analysts have pinned the project’s cost at closer to $100 billion dollars after a slew of regulatory and aesthetic issues have cropped up in the past few years.

There are also structural concerns for the project. Southern California sits on the San Andreas fault line and is known for its earthquakes. Furthermore, no one can be quite sure what sits underneath the ground and what the cost of relocating sewers and water lines might be.

In late 2017, Musk and his team put in a bid to build an express transit lane between O’Hare airport and downtown Chicago. With ongoing discussions in LA, Chicago, and NYC, The Boring Company could become the biggest disruptor in the modern transportation field.

Image Sources The Boring Company