Published on April 27th, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan0
Tesla Investment, Hyperchange, Tesla FUD, Rivian & Moonshot Mondays — CleanTech Talk with Galileo Russell, Pt.1
April 27th, 2019 by Zachary Shahan
Our conversation ran for 1½ hours, so I’ve split it into two episodes. Below is the first episode (and a text summary), and the second episode (+ summary) is here.
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Loosely chatting at the beginning, we talked a bit about our recent trip to the Tesla Fremont factory. For more on that, see these articles + videos:
- Tesla’s Seat Heaven — Home Of Tesla’s Cloud-Like Seats
- Tesla Fremont Factory Video Tour, Part 1 — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
- A Look Inside Tesla’s Fremont Automotive Factory — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
- Tesla’s Vertical Integration Unlocks Hidden Flexibility & Innovation — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
- The World Inside Tesla Is Completely Different From The Media’s Portrayal Of Tesla — #CleanTechnica Field Trip
Once we finally got going interviewing Galileo, interestingly, he noted that he started out in this Tesla media and analysis realm on Seeking Alpha. Seriously. After a while, though, he felt like he was being censored far too much and decided to leave. (This seems to be a norm among Tesla bulls who contributed on Seeking Alpha in the past.)
We also talked a bit about some of Galileo’s work debunking Tesla FUDsters, and Tesla bulls debating them on various platforms. Something I mentioned I learned from covering climate science a decade ago is that simply getting on a debate stage with someone who shouldn’t really have a platform and is aiming to mislead (intentionally or unintentionally) is already a losing game — it’s just not worth it unless it’s an honest discussion or debate based around matters of fact. Also, once a misleading point is made, it’s extremely hard to get it out of people’s heads. Debunking it in detail often confuses people and even backfires, reinforcing the misleading point rather than removing it.
We also asked Galileo to explain his idea behind “hyperchange” and HyperChange TV. He ruminated on the dramatic period of time we’re in, rapid change in technology, rapid change in the energy sector, and changes across society as a whole. HyperChange TV is focusing on the key leaders in this change, companies tackling the world’s biggest problems. Tesla is the prime example.
So, finally getting into the topic of Tesla, I noted some research I’ve seen that Tesla [TSLA] is a top stock pick of millennials. I asked for Galileo’s opinion of why that is. Basically, he talked about Tesla’s special ability capturing people’s hearts and minds — via design, minimalism, the tremendous inventions of Elon Musk across the board, the positive effect Tesla aims to have on society, and the overall cool factor from all of that.
We transitioned to a discussion of NIO. Chanan asked Galileo his impressions on the company’s finances, production targets, and overall chance of survival. We discussed how much of a mystery China is, and I also chimed in with some insight I gleaned from someone at a major battery company, a person who has been working in this industry for a decade or so and had friends working at NIO. He was bearish on NIO due to the challenging Chinese auto market. Large automakers are clear by now that the future is electric and are working hard to have a big share of the pie. The person I talked to just had the impression NIO couldn’t match the large automakers on manufacturing ability, build quality, etc. So, NIO doesn’t have a decade head start like Tesla had.
Though, we also all noted that even as a niche automaker in China, NIO could be a successful company.
That chat led to a brief discussion of China’s electric vehicle leadership, always a fun topic.
Galileo also talked about Tesla’s efficiency leadership, something he dove into with Loup Ventures contributor Matt Joyce. This is something he can’t see gasmobiles catching up on (because it’s impossible), and the only fringe startup he highlighted as a potential competitor is Rivian. He noted Amazon’s investment in Rivian as a big deal that made him quite bullish about the company. Incidentally, that topic was a question on Chanan’s list, as Galileo had recommended Amazon buy Rivian three months before it did so. (Hmm, does Bezos watch HyperChange TV?) Also, Rivian hadn’t yet received a $500 investment from Ford, but Galileo previously recommended Ford buying Rivian as well! A third one Galileo nailed, probably most surprising, was a recommendation that Amazon buy Whole Foods. Seriously — look it up.
I then transitioned to the topic of Tesla moats and Tesla’s overall leadership in the market. I made a mistake and thought Galileo wrote the most extensive article I’ve seen on Tesla moats, but it was apparently a Patrick C, not Galileo. In any case, Galileo eloquently answered my burning question — why is Tesla so pointedly attacked or so misunderstood? He highlighted the role of the media (too heavy of a focus on sales, journalist egos, a bias toward negativity). That led me to highlighting one of my favorite articles ever, “The Tesla Smear.” Galileo noted that he thinks the smear is “a necessary symptom of an incredibly disruptive or successful movement or technology.” (I agree.)
Gali also postulated that poor Tesla communications and missed targets have been part of the stock challenge over the past few quarters. Gali and I mentioned a Tesla shareholder desire for Elon Musk to be a bit more pessimistic with his forecasts (instead of his typical default, moderately to strongly optimistic).
I noted the challenge Elon must have from being right so much over the past several years, and being right about so many things people (experts even) claimed were impossible. After so much success, it must be difficult to gauge when you’re genuinely being overly optimistic versus facing the problem of people just don’t get it.
I also mentioned our fun new Tesla Death Anniversary event, which celebrates the 11 year anniversary of the first “Tesla Death Watch” blog. Check out a planned event near you to join a party or contact us if you want to help organize one.
Galileo noted that Elon exudes the point that “the future isn’t just what the future’s gonna be — the future’s what we want it to be and what we decide and build it to be.” I then highlighted one of our takeaways from our Tesla Fremont factory tour: if there’s a 60% chance of success and improvement with something, employees are encouraged to try it.
I also noted Elon’s unusual approach to Twitter. He responds to people of all levels and types, people with 3 million followers and people with 3 followers. He’s very into participatory everything — in his companies, on Twitter, in the development of AI, etc. Building on that, Galileo noted his push to get Tesla to use Say to give retail investors a voice on quarterly conference calls. (More explanation here.) On the conference call last week, Tesla again used the system.
We then rewound quite a bit on the topic of participatory Tesla conference calls. We asked how Galileo got on a Tesla conference call last year (one quarter before me), and I smilingly relayed the story I got from Matt Pressman of EV Annex about his and Galileo’s discussion about the idea before it happened. Galileo then told the story of how it all happened — a fascinating story, but you just have to listen to that one.
As noted that the top, the podcast chat was an hour and a half long. I debated whether or not to publish it all at once, but ended up deciding that it should be broken up. So, that’s the end of the first half of our CleanTech Talk podcast conversation with Galileo.
Stay tuned for the second half tomorrow. The second half is here.