Dear Tesla: Enough with the Silicon Valley Bravado

Tesla’s financial issues have been spilling considerable ink since news broke that they were shopping for cash. A company press release says they had secured a $40 million commitment, and CEO Elon Musk added that “Forty million is significantly more than we need. However, the board, investors and I felt it was important to have significant cash reserves.”

Meanwhile other sources are claiming that they were originally seeking $100 million, which starkly contradicts Musk’s statement.

Is the flagship vehicle of the future in trouble? The alternative vehicle industry is not a house of cards, so if Tesla were to collapse, she wouldn’t bring it all down with her, but it would be a big blow, especially to the confidence and optimism of the industry.

Some speculate that Musk wouldn’t be too upset if the company had to file Chapter 13, since he could position himself to take over the company. Musk has claimed that he would be willing to spend his own money to keep Tesla alive, further raising suspicion.

Meanwhile, Fisker Automotive has effectively won the trade secret suit Tesla had filed against them, delivering another blow to the San Carlos firm.

Look at Tesla’s Board of Directors. The only person with any automotive experience is Ze’ev Drori, and realistically speaking, his doesn’t count. There is a feeling in Silicon Valley that anything is possible—the X-Prize is the prime example—and that’s great. But there’s also the possibility that having made a fortune in software and the web doesn’t immediately translate into ‘anything is possible.’

In short, Tesla needs a new CEO. Fast. And their name needs to be familiar in Detroit, so to speak. Why? This is the automotive industry; its reputation for devouring upstarts is notorious. I’m not saying I think the new CEO of Tesla should come from one of the big three—but I am suggesting that he or she have a significant automotive background, ideally, from a company with a long and successful history selling six figure vehicles.

Enough with the Silicon Valley bravado. Too much is at stake to continue to believe that ‘anything is possible’ because that slogan cuts both ways. For example, it’s possible that Tesla, the far-and-away herald of the alternative vehicle future, could go under. And who knows just how much of our future she’ll take with her.

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