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Team Elon: A Deserved Place at the Top

This article is a response to the recently published article: “The Great Consolidation: Elon Musk's Quest for Tech Dominance”.

Cover Image for Team Elon: A Deserved Place at the Top
Elon Musk's $44 billion bid accepted by Twitter BoardPhoto Credits: Salon.com
Article byParker Lewis
April 26, 2022

"The Great Consolidation: Elon Musk's Quest for Tech Dominance" mentions a “series of policy failures” that led to Elon Musk’s ascent to the world’s wealthiest individual. I believe this is referencing the U.S. government’s support of Tesla and other green energy companies through tax credits and special loans. Under President Obama’s administration, the Department of Energy awarded Tesla $465 million of ten-year-long interest-bearing loans. Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney famously criticized President Obama when he deemed Tesla a bad investment, which was a clear nod to the big oil industry. In reality, the loan was very successful. Tesla fully repaid the government with interest nine years ahead of schedule. Beating the odds, in 2010, Tesla was the first American automobile company to go public since Ford in 1956.

Musk’s risky decision to bet his personal wealth and future income on Tesla’s ability to execute on financial milestones led him to reach his current estimated net worth of over $260 billion. Elon Musk invested a reported $70 million of his $170 million wealth from founding PayPal, with the remaining $100 million invested in SpaceX. The road was not smooth for the startup EV producer–Tesla was a month from bankruptcy as recently as 2019. Over the last few years, Musk has taken no salary at Tesla and instead based his compensation package on ambitious financial milestones for the company.

Tesla has been tremendously successful in bringing electric vehicles to the masses and reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. As we have seen in recent weeks following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, reducing the United States' dependence on foreign oil is a top priority for national security. Given the option, the world is better-served lining Elon’s pockets than the dictators that make up the top oil-exporting countries (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, China, to name a few).

A previous version of this article mentions a “Tesla plant” in Xinjiang, which does not exist. Tesla opened a showroom in Xinjiang to sell electric vehicles. This is not analogous to Nike and H&M’s use of forced Uighur labor to produce cotton. Furthermore, Tesla’s Giga Shanghai does not produce vehicles that are exported to US consumers. Tesla produces US market vehicles domestically. Under the leadership of Musk, an American immigrant, Tesla also recently won an award for the most “Made in America” car, beating out Detroit rivals.

The article failed to mention other more legitimate potential concerns of Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition from his complex web of business ownership. What if the CCP tries to force Musk to censor anti-CCP rhetoric on Twitter or threaten ramifications to Tesla’s China operations?

Next, the author mentions Elon’s tweet to President Putin could encourage Russia to target Starlink, which Ukraine was depending on for communications and drone operations. To take a step back, SpaceX’s incredible innovation under Musk’s leadership allowed the company to aid the Ukrainian Digital Minister, arguably much quicker and more effectively than any allied government could.

Although the platform has immense power and reach, to deem Twitter as anything other than a profit-seeking social media company is naive. With Elon’s purchase of Twitter, he joins the likes of fellow billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Ted Turner, and Robert Murdoch owning large influential media companies. Elon Musk says he plans to prioritize free speech, tweeting that he hopes even his harshest critics remain on Twitter. Musk stated he will “mak[e] the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spambots, and authenticating all humans.” These changes should be unequivocally supported and if successful, the platform will more responsibly support the company’s mission of “giving everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers.

DISCLAIMER: All views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent that of the IWAB platform.