Tag Archive: SpaceX


I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?

 

 

Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-many-failures-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2017-05-24

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-fascinating-life-of-elon-musk-captured-in-one-giant-infographic-2016-04-13

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bojY5N2Ns3k

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/a-man-in-the-arena/

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/#version:static

https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2013/09/09/john-sculley-just-gave-his-most-detailed-account-ever-of-how-steve-jobs-got-fired-from-apple/#38def8d4c655

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation. I’m not sure what else one would do. That’s what I think would happen.” – Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” – Benjamin Franklin

“To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” — Buddharobots2

As a small-time shareholder in Tesla, the author of Almost DailyBrett is reconsidering his investment.

Have I’ve been foolish?

Should I be more diligent to be wise?

Don’t get this blog wrong. These posts have always supported and admired entrepreneurs (e.g., Musk) as job creators, dreamers of great new products, and economic forces for good (e.g., reducing dependence on fossil fuels).

Nonetheless it’s shocking to note that Musk’s (i.e. PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX) answer to the prospect of increased robotics/automated services (i.e., check-out machines, ATMs, robotic assembly lines) is too simply put all of these future displaced employees – maybe even millions of workers – on a politically acceptable dole (at least to some): Universal Basic Income or UBI.

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Elon Musk, CEO of US automotive and energy storage company Tesla, presents his outlook on climate change at the Paris-Sorbonne University in Paris on December 2, 2015. / AFP / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)

Let’s face it: The shrinking middle class during the past 30 years is a major cause of serious political disruptions with populist causes taking hold on both sides of the Pond.

Pew Research revealed that 62 percent of Americans were categorized as middle class in 1970, falling to 43 percent in 2014.

Conversely, 29 percent of Americans were upper class in 1970, rising to 49 percent in 2014.

Lower class was essentially flat from 10 percent to 9 percent during these 44 years.

Almost DailyBrett is concerned that aggressive moves toward ever higher minimum wages may entice even more potential employers to seriously explore using even more machines, which don’t require the payment of benefits (e.g., medical, vision and dental), and don’t demand days off.robots1

And who would be most impacted by displacement by machines and robots? The middle class? The lower class? Both?

Under the failed Universal Basic Income (UBI) plebiscite in Switzerland earlier this year, displaced workers would have received an annual salary of $30,660 for a single, $61,320 for a couple and $76,728 for a family of four … placing them in the higher echelons of middle-income America … but without exerting any effort.

How does UBI square with the Protestant Work Ethic?

Funding A New Leisure Class

“People will have time to do other things and more complex things, more interesting things. [They will] certainly have more leisure time.” – Elon Musk

“Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy

“Given the crisis that we are in and the hardships that so many people are going through, we can’t allow any idle hands. Everybody has to get involved, everybody has to pitch in and I think the American people are ready to do that” – President Barack Obama

Earlier, Almost DailyBrett wrote about the record number of working-age men (e.g., 20-54), who are voluntarily not seeking a job … any job. Instead, they are averaging 5.5 hours per day playing video games, accessing streaming video and watching HDTV. That’s a shocking loss of brainpower and manpower, the type that President Kennedy said could be in service to the country.

Would UBI exacerbate this unacceptable trend, essentially making it politically acceptable to displace able workers with even smarter machines? The net result would be even more wards of the state with little or nothing to do. Idle hands will indeed rule.

The question still persists: Should millions of able-bodied people be paid to do nothing? Will they earn their paychecks? How will UBI be funded, if America becomes a donut with a huge whole in the middle — little or zero middle class?

Will the majority of these recipients ultimately become miserable on the certain road to death?

If all one is doing is running out the clock (e.g., playing video games and checking out social media) until that inevitable day arrives, then what is the purpose of life?

Maybe UBI is not so smart after all? Whattyathink Mr. Musk?

http://mashable.com/2016/11/05/elon-musk-universal-basic-income/#dmtbn21mkmq8

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

http://www.voanews.com/a/a-13-2009-01-20-voa6-68822097/413577.html

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/idle.html

http://fortune.com/video/2016/11/07/elon-musk-wants-universal-basic-income/

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/millions-of-active-women-supporting-millions-of-idle-men/

 

 

 

 

 

“A million dollars isn’t cool. Do you know what is cool? A billion dollars,” – Justin Timberlake playing the role of Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Networkseanparker

There are problems in America, and much of those aren’t about the sharing economy. Income inequality is rising, and the middle class isn’t better off than they were a decade ago. We don’t need government investment, and we can provide a solution.” – Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder to USA Today

We all have a choice: We can either hate or we can celebrate.

We can resist change and inevitably fail or we can embrace the future.

There are very few that make it to the vaunted three comma club, those with 10 or even 11 figures as their cumulative assets. Nobody has made it to the 12-figure mark … yet.

There are oodles of millionaires, but reaching the billionaire or the three comma club as Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker ($2.6 billion) offered to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ($33.4 billion) is quite a different story.

Some may try to dismiss the select membership of the three-comma club, contending the majority of the wealth was inherited and thus represents just another indicator of income inequality. This contention for the most part is not correct.

For the vast majority of billionaires, as opposed to mere millionaires or multi-millionaires, the difference lies with what Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen proclaims as “disruptive technologies.”

Under Christensen’s theory, existing corporations usually have the edge when it comes to sustaining innovations (e.g., one generation to the next generation; one model to the next model). When it comes to “disrupting innovation,” the advantage lies in the hands of new entrants/first movers into the marketplace. That is where we typically find new members of the three comma club.

Taking a gander at the Forbes annual list of billionaires, one finds Bill Gates in first place at $79.2 billion. Were Bill Gates and Paul Allen ($17.5 billion) game changers? The question almost seems silly. Microsoft became THE software side to the PC equation with its novel Windows operating system and its Word-PowerPoint-Excel business suite. Intel (e.g., Gordon Moore, $6.9 billion) provided the other half of the Wintel monopoly with its Pentium processors.windows10

Joining the celebrated three comma club is an incredibly difficult proposition. For the most part, it means the new member came up with a novel idea that changed not only the rules of the game, but society itself.

Jeff Bezos at $34.8 billion was the driver behind first-mover, digital-retailer Amazon, which transformed the way the world shopped with its long-tail strategy (e.g., 99 percent of all of Amazon’s inventory is sold at least once a year to at least one grateful consumer). Jack Ma of China’s Alibaba ($22.7 billion) is attempting to do the same as 400 million of the Middle Kingdoms’ population moves up into the middle class.

Mark Zuckerberg ($33.4 billion), the subject of the aforementioned The Social Network, invented Facebook in his Harvard Kirkland H-33 dorm room just 11 years/1.4 billion subscribers ago. Facebook has changed how we instantaneously transmit to friends and family the exciting (or not so exciting) developments in our daily lives.

Google co-founders and former Stanford students Larry Page ($29.7 billion) and Sergey Brin ($29.2 billion) pioneered the world’s dominant search engine, another first-mover victory, as well as the Android operating system for mobile devices.google1

Elon Musk (a mere $12 billion) is attempting to make climate change neutral electric cars a reality for the middle class with his publicly traded Tesla. And if that was not enough, his privately held SpaceX is delivering payloads into orbit for NASA.

Disruptive Technologies

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy

It’s not the progress I mind, it’s the change I don’t like,” – Mark Twain

Are there those out of sheer jealously, who don’t like reading or hearing about billionaires? Yes indeed. Do some people rationalize these monetary gains as being ill-acquired? Yes again. And then there is the disruptive part of the equation.uber

There are those with mobile devices with time on their hands and cars that can be put to work. Hello Uber and its $50 billion in market valuation. And who is negatively impacted? The cab industry and their drivers, who would be well advised to be fairer and nicer to their riders.

And there are those with mobile devices with houses and rooms to rent, reaching out to those around the world, who just want to couch-surf. Hello Airbnb and its $25 billion in market valuation. And who is negatively impacted? The hotel and motel industry, which soon will be facing downward pressure on its pricing model as a result of expanding supply.Airbnb

For Uber, Airbnb and other privately held “unicorns” (i.e., Snapchat, Pinterest, Dropbox), they are forcing change onto those who do not want to change. The forces of inertia have powerful allies (e.g., New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman). These change agents need effective public relations, marketing and branding to help the on-demand economy to succeed and for society to advance.

Let the storming of the barricades continue.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2015/08/19/airbnb-ceo-brian-chesky-change-agents-company-targets-new-growth-opportunities/31888851/

http://fortune.com/brian-chesky-airbnb/

http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/list/3/#version:static

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/attacking-uber/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/war-on-wall-street/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Parker

http://www.claytonchristensen.com/key-concepts/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

 

“For some ten years I have kept a journal more or less regularly as a vehicle for adjusting my own perspective. I’ve found it a convenient way of stepping back occasionally to see what forms and shades my sometimes hectic activities were leaving on the canvas of my life.” – Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo (1932-2015)cuomo

Seems so simple, and for more than just a few … terrifying.

Just write every day for 15 minutes a day, every day.

That was the advice to post-graduate students by University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, Professor Carol Stabile.

Good advice from my former across the cul-de-sac neighbor.stabile

Sorry to say, we are not talking about cumulative texting every day for four hours or more … With all due respect from the author of Almost DailyBrett that is not writing. LOL, SOL, BTW, BRB, JK, FOMO and the timeless WTF do not and will never constitute written expression or even coming close to contributing to the canvas of life.

Instead, we are discussing the practice of actually sitting down each and every day and writing for 15 minutes or longer.

Why would we want to do that? How about to improve our writing and thinking abilities?

Here’s the key question: What should you write about?

If you are asking that particular question, it may point to another issue: You may not be reading enough.

Yes in order to write; you need to read and read and read …

Canvas of Life

“An astrologist sent me a horoscope that said I was going to die on election day. I don’t know if she meant literally or figuratively. Just in case she means it literally, I think I’ll vote early.” – Cuomo diary on 1982 general election eve

Cuomo’s diaries of his difficult 1982 Democratic primary against NYC mayor Edward Koch and general election campaign for the governorship of New York were a hit in the mid-1980s.

Considering that my boss (e.g., Governor George Deukmejian) went through a similar process in the same year, just from the other side of the aisle, and across the country in California drew me to Cuomo’s diaries.

Cuomo wrote in the pre-dawn hours before heading out for a full-and-frantic day of politicking. Guess there are some not requiring the standard eight-hours of sleep that mumsy recommended.

The former New York governor used the old-fashioned pen and journal for his diaries, reflecting the historical fact the IBM PC had just been invented. Today, we will most likely opt for a lap top or tablet to write … even though pen and paper still works in this digital age. Heck Moses used his own tablets thousands of years ago.

There is so much happening in the world to write about, more good than bad. Yep, your author has been accused of being a Pollyanna.unicorn

The Economist just this week wrote about “Unicorns.” Yep, those highly capitalized and inventive, privately held companies with valuations exceeding $1 billion that are in no hurry to take their shares public … Uber, Airbnb, SpaceX, Pinterest, Dropbox, Snapchat …

Some lament the gyrations of Wall Street; sometimes the market is overbought and sometimes it is oversold … the choppy trend line is upward to the right.

Almost DailyBrett wrote about the Silly Season of politics, essentially recommending not getting one’s knickers in a twist about the bloviations of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. Believe it or not, the political process has a way of moderating itself.

Summer is upon us (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and it is a magical time of Urlaub that wundervolle Zeit for vacationing, exploring and sampling yummy wines and refreshing microbrews. Ahh … Gemütlichkeit … Le Dolce Vida.

Soon the days will grow shorter, the air will become cooler and the leaves will start to change colors, it will be that magical time: college football season. There is something about the pageantry of the fall spectacle that serves as a rebirth and pleasant thoughts of another New Year’s Day In Pasadena.

Please excuse my bout of positive vibrations. Yes Almost DailyBrett recognizes there is and will always be the cup half-empty portion of the world. This blog is indeed pragmatic and recognizes it is much more difficult to be always positive, than the latter.

Go away Gloomy Gus and Negative Nancy.

The point is this: The Canvas of Life has so much to read about and more importantly to write about.

Sit down for your 15 minutes and write to your heart’s content. And if you are brave enough, publish your journal. The digital ones-and-zeroes of binary code will enable your self-publishing.

It only takes 15 minutes each day, every day.

http://wgs.uoregon.edu/profile/cstabile/

https://cstabile.wordpress.com/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/01/us/mario-cuomo-dies-new-york-governor/

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/02/nyregion/mario-cuomo-new-york-governor-and-liberal-beacon-dies-at-82.html?_r=0

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21659745-silicon-valley-should-be-celebrated-its-insularity-risks-backlash-empire-geeks

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

 

 

 

 

Quick question: To benefit society is it better to donate $1,000 to the United Way or buy about five shares in Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) for the same amount of money?

Earns Tesla MotorsUnitedWay

Before you answer, please be reminded this question is not about pure, unmitigated, unadulterated altruism of the giver or investor.

Those who contribute to non-profits (e.g., United Way is one of literally thousands) in many cases are doing so to generate a personal tax deduction, which not inconsequentially adds to the federal deficit approaching $18 trillion.

Conversely, those who invest in corporate shares are doing so in hopes that the stock increases in value, something along the lines of buy low, sell high. This action does not sound charitable in the least … but in some cases it may be just that.

To top it off, a successful buy-low, sell high-action triggers a profit and with it tax liability (either capital gains or personal income tax depending on the timing of the transaction). These transactions lead to greater tax revenues for the feds, states, counties and municipalities.

Back to the basic question: Is it for the betterment of society to donate to a non-profit rather than to invest in visionary companies?

The answer may be surprising.

Non-Profit vs. For-Profit

Certainly, the United Way is not the only non-profit doing good on Planet Earth.

And just as certain, Elon Musk’s battery-powered automobile innovator/manufacturer, Tesla, is not the only global company with a spiffy idea or two.

The Alexandria, VA-based United Way with 1,200 local offices with a reported $103.2 million in assets and $94.2 million in net income provides essential support services to the less fortunate nationwide…and that is as Martha would say, “A good thing.”

Keep in mind when these big numbers are being thrown around, some in power may try to dip into the till. That is exactly what happened in the 1990s when United Way CEO William Aramory defrauded the charity according to a 53-count federal indictment to the tune of $1.2 million. He spent six years in the slam.

The United Way appears to have fully recovered from the PR debacle, and has partnered with the National Football League and others to assist those who need help the most.

Many multi-national corporations have earned near universal disdain for excessive CEO compensation, selling sinful products (e.g., NYSE: MO or Philip Morris), practicing “Green-Washing,” “Pink Washing” or “Astroturfing.” No wonder there were protests/reactions from “Occupy Wall Street,” to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and many, many others.

And yet, there are companies that are sincere about maintaining both their fiduciary responsibility for shareholders and employees, and corporate social responsibility for workers, communities, regions and yes, the planet.

Companies on a Mission

“If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.” — Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie in her novel, Mrs. Dymond (1885)

University of Oregon business professor Michael V. Russo wrote Companies on a Mission about more than a handful of enlightened corporations that have demonstrated they can be good citizens, while pursuing a profit as mandated by fiduciary responsibility.

lohas

In writing his book, he said these companies doing good for communities and the planet were drawing interest from at least a portion of the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) consumer market segment, estimated at 43 million Americans in the economic downturn year of 2009. Conceivably that number has grown as the economy continues its stubbornly slow recovery.

Are we daring to think differently in suggesting that investing in shares and/or buying the products of these forward-looking companies is the equivalent of teaching a man how to catch a fish?

And are we merely giving a man a fish, if we donate in a well-meaning non-profit. That’s exactly what Almost DailyBrett is pondering in writing this epistle.

Please send the slings and arrows my way.

NUMMI Comes Back to Life

In a recent 60 Minutes piece on Musk’s battery car builder, Tesla, and privately held rocket-ship innovator, SpaceX, CBS included footage of the once-shuddered/2010 reopened NUMMI plant in industrial Fremont, California. There are now than 1,000 workers building non-polluting Tesla battery-operated cars at NUMMI.

teslanummi1

 

Palo Alto-based Tesla employs nearly 6,000 (and this figure does not include in-direct jobs in the form of suppliers, partners, distributors, resellers, butchers, bakers and candle stick makers).

The $2 billion top-line and $456 million bottom-line company has attracted more than $26.7 billion in market capitalization or market value (based on the present stock price).

The key to building more of these vehicles, which do NOT contribute to climate change, are the availability of ion-batteries with acceptable ranges and reasonable price points. Tesla will soon announce the location(s) for its ion-battery “Gigafactory.” We can rest assured the Gigafactory or Gigafactories will directly employ hundreds and indirectly employ thousands more, using the tried-true indirect-to-direct employee ratios.

Bill O’Reilly once called Tesla a “game-changer” as the way we think of automobiles is changing. And naturally, Tesla is attracting competitors into this space (z.B. Bayerische Motoren Werke oder BMW).

Back to the basic premise of this exercise: Are there instances in which the purchase of stock shares in (gasp) a corporation do more for the economy and the planet than making the traditional charitable contribution?

That seems to be the case in at least one instance, if we dare think out of the proverbial box.

Almost DailyBrett Note: The author of this blog owns slightly more than 100 shares of Tesla. Readers considering investing in Tesla would be well advised to review Tesla’s financials, stock performance, analyst reports and maybe even consult a financial advisor. My knowledge of Tesla is based upon published reports, publicly available information/data and of course, the 60 Minutes piece.

http://www.unitedway.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Way_of_America

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Factory

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/give_a_man_a_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_day;_teach_a_man_to_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_lifetime

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NUMMI

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/07/17/tesla-motors-inc-california-is-back-in-the-race-fo.aspx

 

 

 

 

“The sales of Apple kept getting stronger, the cash position larger, and the products more creative than any company I can ever recall – all because of the genius of one man, the founder, Steve Jobs.

“When Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011, I told people on ‘Mad Money’ that Apple would never be the same…” – CNBC über-commentator and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

The Three Gees

When I joined the ranks of Silicon Valley PR directors/managers in 1995, the business media was obsessed with three CEO rock stars we called, “The Three Gees”: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Lou Gerstner (Itty Bitty Machines) and Andy Grove (Intel).

The Three Gees dominated (today’s legacy) media at the time, seemingly making every cover of the leading business magazines, namely BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune.

They respectively represented the software, manufacturing and semiconductor sides of the PC, and the growth of their stocks was something to behold.

jobsamelio

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple one year later – 11 years after being forced out by John Sculley and the Board of Directors of the company he created – the media coverage was breathtaking. The Mercury News above-the-fold treatment left one wondering what the editors would do for the “Second Coming.”

And yet Steve Jobs was indeed mortal. There was no OMG product that Jobs bequeathed to his successor, Tim Cook. Today, Apple is losing ground to Samsung. Will Apple ever regain its Steve Jobs-era glory? Most are betting the under.

Fast-forward to the present: Microsoft is offering new generations of Windows in the post-Gates era. IBM sold its PC division – the technology it pioneered – to China’s Lenovo. Intel and other semiconductor companies are now mere commodity suppliers to the new newsmakers, the social media (e.g., LinkedIn), cloud computing (e.g., Salesforce.com) and mobile technology (e.g., Google) firms or as Cramer says: social, cloud and mobile.

Bench Strength?

In the big four American sports, particularly beisboll, football and hockey you cannot win the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup respectively with just superstars. This is less the case with basketball, but players contributing off the bench are still needed. The point is champions must have talent, including superstars, but they also need deep benches, intelligent systems and solid coaching.

A team winning the Stanley Cup cannot just rely on one superstar center, left-wing, right-wing line, but also scoring from lines two, three and four, solid defensemen and lights-out goalies. There will be nights when the top line is not producing. That means that others must step up and contribute.

penguins

My former boss, Wilf Corrigan, founded custom-chip designer LSI Logic in 1981 and also served as its chairman and chief executive officer until he decided in concert with the company board of directors to step down in 2005. He surrounded himself with extremely talented lieutenants as mentioned in an earlier Almost DailyBrett post. They went on to serve as CEOs including: John Daane (Altera); Brian Halla (National Semiconductor); Moshe Gavrielov (Xilinx); Jen-Hsun Huang (NVIDIA); Ronnie Vashishta (eASIC) and Bruce Entin (Silicon Valley Communication Partners).

The most important point is that Wilf, despite his status as a captain of industry, did not want the LSI Logic story to be exclusively about him. He also wanted to feature his deep bench. Instead of the first-person singular (e.g., I, me, myself), he insisted on personally speaking in the first-person plural (e.g., we, us, ours). He wanted the same for those who spoke on behalf of the company team … that would be me.

The Imperial CEO

carly1

Just last week, The Economist cited Czarina Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, in a story as to why female CEOs are more likely to be shown the door – the glass cliff — as opposed to their male counterparts. The central reason offered was that female CEOs are more likely to be hired from outside to save the day.

The Economist cited the “disproportionate publicity” that Carly received in her rocky tenure, making her a media star and synonymous with her company Hewlett Packard (particularly during the Compaq acquisition debacle) and ultimately contributing to her demise.

mayer

Almost DailyBrett wrote earlier about glamorous Yahoo! rock star Marissa Mayer, and her decision to pose horizontally for Vogue. The question was asked then, and asked again now whether we care as much about Yahoo! as we do about Mayer? Maybe the coming $15 billion – $16 billion IPO of Chinese digital retailer, Alibaba, will bring some attention back to 13.6 percent part-owner, Yahoo!

We should also not lose sight that Mayer came to Yahoo! from Google. Is there another glass cliff in the offing?

“Tesla is Elon Musk”

Last week, a CNBC talking-head analyst declared that electronic car innovator Tesla was in reality an ion-battery maker in drag.

CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth replied that Tesla is Elon Musk. Guess the same would apply to privately held, rocket maker SpaceX. According to a recent profile on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Musk devotes three days of his typical week to SpaceX, two days to publicly traded Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and two days to his relatively new wife and five sons from his previous marriage.

Can Musk petition for weeks to be extended to nine days?

As a shareholder of Tesla and as a public relations counselor/commentator for three decades, Musk comes across as a good guy and relatively modest. He simply calls himself an “engineer.” Whether he likes it or not, he is first and foremost a technology rock star.

So what should Tesla, SpaceX and Musk do?

At a minimum, they all should be thinking about succession planning even though Musk is only 42 years young. The comparisons made by 60 Minutes and others, comparing Musk to Jobs, should be seen as both extremely flattering and downright scary.

Tesla and SpaceX seemingly have extremely talented corporate lieutenants. We need to see them and get to know them. Will they replace Musk in stature? No. Having said that, there will be a future of these companies after Musk, just as there was a future for Apple after Jobs.

muskstraubel1

For example we could learn more about Tesla’s chief technology officer JB Straubel, who rebuilt a discarded electric golf cart at 14-years young. Today, the Stanford grad in energy engineering is now tasked at building an affordable (e.g., $30,000) Tesla electric car with acceptable range.

The same will eventually be true for the leading rocket scientists (they really are rocket scientists) at SpaceX, particularly if Musk decides to take the company public.

The Tesla and SpaceX teams need to remember that running a company is not a sprint, but a marathon. To make it for the long-run and go deep into the playoffs, you need a seasoned team and a strong contributing bench.

http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Cramers-Get-Rich-Carefully/dp/0399168184

http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/03/27/briefly-steve-jobs-1996-return-to-apple-depicted-in-rare-set-of-photos

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21601554-why-female-bosses-fail-more-often-male-ones-glass-precipice

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

http://www.teslamotors.com/executives

 

 

 

 

“Only in America”

The old joke: “When has it been a bad day?”

“When Mike Wallace (in particular) and the 60 Minutes crew is waiting in the lobby.”

Sometimes having 60 Minutes coming for an extended visit can be great news for a company, and maybe for a nation that could use a kick in the collective pants.

pelley60Minutes

The Scott Pelley story this past Sunday focused on a 42-years young immigrant “engineer” from South Africa, Elon R. Musk, who is playing a huge role in reviving American heavy manufacturing in both automobiles (Tesla) and rockets (SpaceX).

Almost DailyBrett wants to hear, tell and relay more of these stories.

Driving repeatedly up the 880 (e.g.. The Nasty Nimitz) past industrial Fremont, one would cast a sad glance at the shuttered NUMMI plant. At various times, GM and Toyota cars and trucks would be made there until they weren’t any longer.

The negative narrative was that Silicon Valley with its unparalleled collection of gear heads would always be a center of innovation, but manufacturing was just too bloody expensive.

Oh, ya?

Tesla’s 1,000 employees at the recharged NUMMI plant can’t build the fully battery-powered (up to 250 miles on one charge with zero climate change emissions) $100,000 Model S cars fast enough to meet the demand. Overall Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) employs nearly 6,000 directly and indirectly results in the hiring of thousands of others in supplier roles, and quite well could be the first successful U.S. automobile start-up in 90 years. And the company is working to developing the technology to build $30,000 non-polluting all-electric cars with acceptable travel ranges.

Heck, Bill O’Reilly called Tesla a global “game changer” that will force all rival automakers to respond.

Earns Tesla Motors

But the story does not start-and-stop there; In fact it goes into the stratosphere and beyond.

Musk also pioneered privately held SpaceX with its 3,000 employees, which received a $1.5 billion NASA influx to deliver cargos via rockets to the agency’s orbiting space stations. SpaceX is developing the first rocket that can be landed right back on the launch pad, and may play the leading role in taking humans to Mars for the first time.

Don’t bet against Musk, Tesla and SpaceX.

We seemingly live in a culture in which no good deed goes unpunished, one in which we despise the 1 percent who have much more than the rest of us, and yet we don’t know them.

For example, Musk came to America … “Only in America” … because of its software prowess, particularly the Silicon Valley. After attaining degrees in physics and business from the University of Pennsylvania, he devised the software that provided on-board navigation for drivers, and made $22 million. He developed the online banking system, called PayPal, which he sold to eBay for $1.5 billion (Musk’s share, $180 million). Modestly, he said that was a “good outcome.”

And then he bet the ranch and his earned nest eggs on both Tesla and SpaceX, and was close to bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown. He had hundreds of electric cars that did not work and three failed rocket launches in succession…a fourth would have been game, set and match.

spacex1

With tears in his eyes, he told the story of how Number Four was the charm, and the NASA and further VC investments saved the day. His reaction was very human, very open-kimono. Maybe there are good people who happen to earn a lot of money?

The rest is history. Entrepreneurs by their very nature have to be prepared to fail. Caca happens more times than not. Musk stared failure and permanent debt right in the eyes…and the other guy just blinked.

As mentioned more than once in Almost DailyBrett, my former boss Wilf Corrigan came to America from Liverpool, England with his new Norwegian bride circa 1960. The initial destination was the wrong side of the tracks in blast-furnace hot, Phoenix, Arizona with barely two shekels to rub together.

In time, he rose to the top spot at Fairchild, lost the company in a hostile takeover bid, formed his own company, LSI Logic, which is now being driven into oblivion by his successor. Wilf succeeded, failed and succeeded again.

Failure is an option in Silicon Valley and America, but so is success…including new businesses, jobs and maybe heavy manufacturing (e.g., electric cars and rockets).

musk

Mounting the proverbial soap box, there are a record 47 million on food stamps and another record 8.9 million on disability, most legit…some not. We need to provide a safety net for those who are in real need…

We also need to not hate, but celebrate, the doers, the achievers, the entrepreneurs. The days of jealousy should be behind us, but you know they are not.

For the public relations industry, we should be unabashed and undaunted in telling the stories of those who dare to fail and ultimately succeed, providing us with great products and the best anti-poverty program on the planet: A good paying private sector job with full benefits.

Thank you Elon Musk and all the others who dare to follow in your footsteps. We can hardly wait to hear and tell the stories about you.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/04/01/bill-oreilly-truth-about-obamacare-and-global-warming

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Factory

http://www.spacex.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/makers-and-takers/

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: