Monday, November 22, 2021

The Internet Turns on Elon Musk

Once hailed as Space Jesus, Elon Musk is now reviled as an Evil Billionaire.

In the last few days, it seems there is an orchestrated effort to discredit Elon Musk.  Perhaps it started with this income inequality thing.  With the over-inflated values of Tesla (again, Market Cap is a nonsense number) it made it appear Musk was one of the wealthiest - if not the wealthiest - people on the planet.  But of course, as his recent stock sales illustrate, if you tried to liquidate that wealth, you would not yield full value.  The very act of selling affects the stock price.  And just because some 20-something "Stonk" buyer paid a king's ransom for one lousy share, doesn't mean the rest of the shares are worth that much.

I think the thing accelerated when Musk - never one to mince words - insulted Bernie Sanders, by saying "I didn't know you were still alive!"  The Bernie Bros started a torch-and-pitchfork parade.  Musk was their hero a few months before - he was going to colonize Mars!  But then we realized that such colonization was an expensive fantasy that no government would underwrite or afford - and the private sector would not invest in, as there is nothing on Mars to export back to Earth, even if it was affordable to ship things back.  There is no return on investment in colonizing other planets, period.

What Musk did do was sell seats on his rocket ship - as did Bezos and Branson.   The media had a field day with this - competing Billionaires with their penis-shaped rockets, trying to out-testosterone each other.  It really didn't help mankind, it just helped rich and famous people.  Maybe the Bernie Bros realized then that when Musk talked about colonizing Mars, he wasn't talking about them.

The stuff I am reading on the Internet - over and over again - sounds like something from a Fox News Talking Points Handout.  Musk was the son of a wealthy diamond or emerald mine owner in South Africa (depending on which source you read).  He treats his employees poorly, firing them on a regular basis.  The Tesla cars are junk - poorly made (according to Consumer Reports and they know about cars, right? Wrong).  We are told the folks at the Tesla factory are worked to death, sexually assaulted, and on drugs or drunk most of the time.  CNN reports the Tesla on "autopilot" drives into oncoming traffic.

It goes on an on.  No matter what Musk has touched his hand to, it is now stained and flawed.  He went from doing no wrong to doing no right in ten seconds flat.  And somehow, I suspect - I know - this is orchestrated.

But by whom?   Short-sellers are always a suspect when it comes to Tesla stock.  But I think the union people are also behind this - wanting to unionize the Tesla factory since day 1.  And no doubt, his competitors, oil companies, electric-car haters, and now Bernie Bros, are all against him.  Funny how that worked out.

I think also he is a victim (if one can use that term on a Billionaire) of the general drumbeat against Billionaires as of late.  People are not happy that a Billionaire tax wasn't part of Biden's "Build Back Better" deal - as nixing any tax increases was the pact he had to make with the Devil (Mitch) in order to get his infrastructure deal through (Boo! Hiss!  Republicans hate infrastructure, other than private airports and helipads).  It seems that Billionaires are on everyone's shit list these days.

Of course, Musk could - and probably should - retire from the limelight.  His Tweets are not quite yet as toxic as Trump's were, but he's getting there.  Maybe he should just go swim in his Scrooge McDuck money vault and enjoy life.  Sometimes the best thing you can do as a Billionaire is to keep a low profile!

That is, in short, why most founders of start-up companies are forced out, once the company goes mainstream.  Probably for the best.