Happy 10th Birthday, Tesla [TSLA] — Here’s A Look At The 10 Years Since IPO

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Ten years ago, a baby IPO was born. The date was June 20, 2010. That’s when Tesla [TSLA] took its place on the world’s stage as a public company. Tesla, the first of its kinda — an EV automaker that offered an idea of sporty American-made electric vehicles — started at $17 a share.

At the time, Tesla only had the Roadster, its first electric vehicle, priced at $109,000. The other models hadn’t been designed or sold yet, and the journey from Tesla’s baby steps to today’s success was often overshadowed by the doubts and fears of critics — many whom were well known talking heads with large influence over their public domain. 


$465 Million US DOE Loan — Paid Back 9 Years Early

Tesla was awarded a $465 million loan in January 2010 from the US Department of Energy. That funding gave Tesla a boost during a very challenging time for the United States, as funding from the same program did for other American automakers. We’d just begun finding our way through the dark hole of the 2008 recession, and this was a kickstarter for cleaner auto technologies. Three years later, Tesla paid off the entire loan, 9 years early, with interest. It was the only company awarded money from that program that paid it off so early. (For some reason, some critics still claim that Tesla — and Elon Musk — still owe the American people.)

Tesla Model S → Model X → Model 3 → Model Y

What Tesla is most known for and makes most of its money on are its cars. It launched the Model S in 2012.

The Model X was launched three years later, in the second half of 2015. The Model S and Model X’s strong sales in their vehicle classes and the sales revenue from them helped fund a large production capacity increase for the Model 3, as did additional financing from the financial markets.

The Model 3 was first shown on March 31, 2016, and received and enormous influx of reservations, with customers standing in line for hours (sometimes days) before Tesla stores around the world in order to put in their reservations. It has become the best selling electric automobile in the world (nearly triple the sales of the #2 model) and was actually the #1 best selling automobile overall in the Netherlands and Norway, and 4th in Switzerland. It was also the 7th best selling car in the USA last year and the best selling automobile in California in the 1st quarter of this year.

The crossover/SUV version of the Model 3, the Model Y, is expected to outsell all three of those vehicles combined and production started earlier this year.

Tesla has also unveiled but isn’t yet producing the Tesla Cybertruck, Tesla Semi, and next-gen Tesla Roadster.

From Fremont to Shanghai to Berlin

Tesla started by buying a closed down auto plant that was once shared by Toyota and GM. Bloomberg notes that Toyota had invested $50 million into this and that Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president, even flew in from Japan to make the announcement with Elon Musk about the factory sale. After Fremont, Tesla opened the Sparks, Nevada, and then Buffalo, New York, gigafactories — the latter being for solar energy, initiated under SolarCity before Tesla bought SolarCity (Elon Musk was the chairman of both companies).

In 2019, Tesla completed the building of its Shanghai factory and made plans for a Berlin Gigafactory. Also in 2019, the Shanghai factory was touted as a mud field by many in the mainstream media and was cited as not really existing and not likely to be built. Not only does it exist, but it came online in less than a year from when it was announced that it would be built. The Shanghai factory also put Tesla, an American company, down in the history books as having the first fully foreign-owned factory in China. This feat was secured during a US–China trade war. 

Taking On More Than One Industry: Auto, Energy, Tech, & Maybe Mining

When Tesla acquired SolarCity, it suddenly became more than just an automaker. Many thought this is what would sink Tesla and make it a “failure.” However, Tesla overcame this challenge by doing something a traditional automaker would have never thought to do: innovate. At first, Tesla made something new. Then it took what it had and remade it into a better product. From there, Tesla has taken on not just the automotive industry, but the energy industry, which includes solar and batteries. 

Another industry Tesla has branched out into is autonomous driving, which required Tesla to develop its own artificial intelligence. Tesla’s development was so great that NVIDIA even wrote a blog post about it, saying that, “Tesla is raising the bar for all other carmakers.” NVIDIA noted that Tesla’s self-driving vehicles will be powered by a computer based on two AI chips that are equipped with a CPU, GPU, and deep learning accelerators. NVIDIA mentioned that Tesla’s two-chip Full Self Driving (FSD) computers at 144 TOPS would compare against its AGX Pegasus computer, which runs at 320 TOPS. “There are only two places you can get that AI computing horsepower: NVIDIA and Tesla.”

And it’s not finished yet. In 2019, Elon Musk joked about Tesla getting into the mining industry, and there are theories out there as to what could happen to the lithium market if Tesla was to buy its own mine

Lending a Helping Hand During Natural Disasters

Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, is often led by his heart. When people ask him for help, he pours his heart and soul into helping them. Often times, he is mocked and ridiculed for helping. (However, if he was to say no, he would be the “evil billionaire” that he is often accused of being by many anyway.) 

One major natural disaster was Hurricane Maria, which left Puerto Rico in ruins. While President Trump was there throwing paper towels at people, Tesla went there and made sure key hospitals had power. Tesla used its solar and battery technology to save lives and improve lives in Puerto Rico.

During other natural disasters around the world, Tesla has also often given free Supercharging to those in need of it — especially those along evacuation routes. 

Image & Safety

Tesla is a premium-class brand, but it is best known as the most tech-advanced automotive brand — sort of in a league of its own in that regard. 

Added to that image we have: family-friendly, fun, innovative, and spaceship-for-the-road. Many Tesla owners have called their vehicles their own personal spaceships.

In 2018, the Model 3 was deemed the Safest Care Ever Tested by the NHTSA. The results from the testing showed that Tesla’s Model 3 has the lowest probability of injury in a crash of any car it ever tester, with less than 6% chance of a serious injury. There have been many unfortunate incidents in which a Tesla owner was involved in a bad accident but walked away uninjured and thanked Tesla and Elon Musk for buying such a safe car — typically alongside the purchase of another one. 

In China, one of the more recent accidents result in what many safety crash testers actually struggled to do with a Tesla: flipped the car onto its roof. The passengers were all unharmed and credited Tesla’s architecture as the reason they all survived. 

The Adversaries & “TSLAQ”

Throughout all of this, Tesla has had its adversaries. Many rally around the cult name of “TSLAQ” (Q is added to a stock symbol when the company goes bankrupt), and have been quoted by various media reports for years. They attempted to make a lot of money shorting the stock and claiming that Tesla was a fraud. While shorting the stock, this group also targeted Tesla customers, fans, and even relatives of Elon Musk on Twitter. I’ve been told to kill myself and to stop writing by a few of these trolls — some whom have messaged me through my jewelry website or even reached out to me on Facebook. 

Despite the harshness of the critics and just how hard they push their narrative, Tesla has focused on its products, on making its product even better and better. By listening to his fans, Elon Musk has added features like Caraoke, Sentry Mode, and Dog Mode, just to name a few. 

As I write this, the stock price is at $973. [Editor’s note: It closed the day at $1,009.35, meaning a market cap of $187.10 billion.] Many of us who invest see any significant dips in the stock price as a buying opportunity, and have for years. Regardless of my opinion of Tesla, though, it is clear that despite the loud voices of the critics, Tesla is doing rather well as a company.

Final Thoughts

I know that these short paragraphs are just a glimpse of what Tesla has achieved, but they are also a preview of what is to come for Tesla. Tesla went from being a startup to the world’s most valuable automaker in just a decade. With this fast pace of innovation, Elon Musk breathed new life into a stagnating industry that was choking the planet with its production of greenhouse gas-emitting products.

Today, Tesla, an automaker that makes electric vehicles, is a leader among its peers. It is no longer the joke, the toy car, or the super expensive EV that is only made for the rich. It’s an American-made vehicle that many Americans can afford, and as they make the switch to EVs, their impact on carbon is noted. Today, Tesla’s carbon impact is (at the time I looked at it) 3,602,008.29 tons. This means that over 3 million tons of carbon were not released into the atmosphere from cars thanks to Tesla vehicles outcompeting them.

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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider