Note: This Bob Lefsetz piece is from earlier this year; I have been waiting to see how the Twitter deal might progress or unravel. Since there’s been real news recently on the litigation, it was high time to share this. (His reader pushback is here) Personally, I have not ruled out a Tesla, but I also prefer EVs like the Taycan or the Mach E. Regardless, this is thought provoking. Enkoy
Don’t buy a new gasoline car unless you’re planning to get rid of it in just a few years, which is kind of dumb, because then you’re eating the depreciation. But if you hold on any longer, the value of a gasoline automobile will sink to nearly zero. What is your 35mm camera worth today?
The whole world is going electric, especially in China and Europe, the way things are going the USA will no longer be number one in so many categories. As for all the b.s. from “patriots” talking about how people are desirous of immigrating into the country…a true patriot would talk about solidifying systems, making America more just, but that doesn’t seem to be their goal.
So a car is one of the few signifiers we still have left. We all use the same smartphone, most youngsters don’t even bother with a watch, how are you going to evidence your identity in today’s world? Well, mostly on social media. But in the real world, it’s still about a car. And if you want to show you’re cutting edge, you drive an electric one, and Tesla dominates that sphere.
Now let’s be clear, electric automobiles were first embraced by the left. The “coastal elites.” They wanted to show they cared about climate change, the planet. They put up with inferior workmanship just to demonstrate their bona fides.
As for the right?
Holman Jenkins and the rest of his knee-jerk Republicans in the “Wall Street Journal” have not stopped decrying electric automobiles, endlessly bitching about subsidies, the lack of profit if clean air credits weren’t sold. They want the past to endure. They want jobs to maintain. They want the right to drive a bigger and bigger SUV, hopefully a Suburban, or maybe a full-sized pickup truck. That’s freedom according to them. As for the planet? Those they hate in Silicon Valley will come up with a solution or God will intervene, it’s not worth worrying about. As for the science? There are no facts in America anymore, didn’t you hear?
So, Tesla has burgeoned on the good will, the purchases of the educated classes, wanting to make a statement, raving about their automobiles, spreading the word. But now what are you going to say?
I don’t care if you’re left or right, what you believe in, but when a giant corporation, publicly traded, alienates its base…that’s a problem.
I used to be a fan of Elon Musk, no longer. The guy is irrational, and he believes the rules don’t apply to him. And he acts like he’s the only one who owns the truth, who can move us into the future, and that’s just hogwash.
As for Twitter…
Twitter is not a newspaper. It’s not even a television station. Twitter only works if it’s agnostic, if it’s the place everybody goes. Just ask Donald Trump and Devin Nunes, who left Congress to run Truth Social. It’s got no traction. Forget that platforms are hard to build, it’s nearly impossible to build traffic unless you’re a first mover or you’re significantly better than the established outfit, neither of which Truth Social is. We’ve learned that online one company dominates in every sphere. Amazon in retail… Especially when it’s consumer facing and depends on traffic.
So, do people on the left need to be on Twitter? Probably. For more than a decade we’ve heard about tech boycotts, but they’ve never worked, people don’t want to be left out, they want to be in on the action. So ignore the hype about Twitter resignations. Twitter is here until it’s superseded by… Well, it took a long time for TikTok and Snapchat to make inroads on Facebook, as for Instagram, the Zuck company bought it!
As for the content on Twitter… Misinformation is a major issue. All over social media, never mind “news” sites. Are we just gonna throw up our hands and say we can’t solve the problem, it will have to work itself out?
Twitter is not government-owned, it can regulate content, who can be on the service, all day long.
Just like the “New York Times” does its best not to print untruths.
Can’t say the same for Fox, which is kinda the point, but reputable news organizations are not propaganda outlets spewing falsehoods. They’re worried about their credibility. As for Musk’s credibility, he’s diminishing it each and every day. He sees his number of Twitter followers, he thinks everybody’s a fan, but that is not the case.
Misinformation has gotten us here, where democracy is in peril. Maybe you don’t agree with that, but as the old aphorism goes, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.
As for the problem… You’ve got to read a couple of paragraphs of this article:
“As a ‘Seismic Shift’ Fractures Evangelicals, an Arkansas Pastor Leaves Home – Kevin Thompson thought he would lead his hometown church for the rest of his life. Then came Trump and everything after.” –NYT
I’ll make it simple, since clicking through is the hardest thing to get a person to do:
“So he was caught off guard when two church members expressed alarm about the passing reference to Mr. Hanks. A young woman texted him, concerned; another member suggested the reference to Mr. Hanks proved Mr. Thompson did not care about the issue of sex trafficking. Mr. Thompson soon realized that their worries sprung from the sprawling QAnon conspiracy theory, which claims that the movie star is part of a ring of Hollywood pedophiles.”
I believe the truth here is self-evident.
But it’s not self-evident that women are entitled to control their own bodies. Huh?
So online is a huge cesspool of information that is misinforming the public. And it’s articles from the right that are shared most on Facebook. Not everything is equal folks.
And the truth is the Twitter deal may not close, and many analysts think it probably won’t.
You need to read all of the following article:
“The flawed math behind Elon Musk’s Twitter deal – An overleveraged billionaire’s bid for an overvalued company may signal the last gasp in an age of magical thinking about markets”
You may be able to twist the facts of social issues, but when it comes to money…cash doesn’t care.
Once again, since most people don’t have the time or inclination to click through, here’s the essence:
“According to Tesla’s regulatory filings, Musk had already pledged about half of his 173 million shares of Tesla stock to fund other ventures and activities. He has now pledged an additional 40 percent to secure the new loans to buy Twitter. That leaves only 10 percent of his Tesla shares available as collateral. Because Tesla’s policies allow major shareholders to borrow only 25 percent of the value of each share that is pledged, that would appear to limit further borrowing against his Tesla shares to less than $5 billion.
All that borrowing might work out just dandy as long as the value of the collateral — Tesla stock (TSLA) — remains at or near the $1,000 per share it was trading at when the deal was announced last week. Yet in the week since the announcement, it dropped 15 percent, to $870 (BR: Tesla stock split 3 for 1 on August 4, 2022; it is trading post-split at $275), at least in part out of fear that the stock could get caught up in Musk’s Twitter misadventure. Should it fall below $750, Musk could run afoul of Tesla’s own leverage ratio. And if it were to fall much below $600 ($200 split adj), the banks could demand that Musk pony up additional collateral, requiring him to quickly sell some of his shares.
Should Tesla stock fall below $400, the banks would probably demand immediate repayment, triggering a massive, forced sale of Tesla shares, depressing the share price even further and prompting other investors to bail out of the stock.”
So Tesla’s stock has fallen. Expect Musk to declare victory and pull out of the deal, the breakup fee is de minimis, at least for Musk, only $1 billion.
But let’s say it goes through. And right wing propaganda comes flooding on to the site. Are you gonna feel good about buying a Tesla?
I won’t. Yes, Teslas are the best electric cars out there, primarily because the company is so far ahead on software, but beware of VW, which has a head start on the rest of the traditional manufacturers, and has made missteps, but is on its way, never mind having worldwide manufacturing and distribution.
And Rivian stock just tanked. So why do we believe the overvalued Tesla will stay high? To a bit it’s apples and oranges, but it’s hard to find almost anyone other than Cathie Wood who doesn’t believe Tesla is overvalued, that the fundamentals don’t make sense.
Now in the fifties and sixties and even into the seventies Jews wouldn’t buy German cars.
Are lefties, coastal liberals, wanting to demonstrate their beliefs, really gonna line up with Tesla? German cars were the best in the seventies, but people drove inferior products, Volvos and Saabs, because they just didn’t want to give Mercedes, BMW and Audi their money.
As for right wingers… They haven’t even gotten on the electric bandwagon, there are not enough of them to support Tesla, at least not at this point.
And this is not Disney. ELON MUSK CREATED THIS PROBLEM!
It’s not like he was reacting to an incursion upon his business. No, myopically trying to save the world he’s dented his cash cow, Tesla. If I was on the board I’d take disciplinary action. Or there should be a shareholder suit. This guy is single-handedly jeopardizing their investment in the car company, which has nothing to do with Twitter.
As for taking a stand…
Do it all day long, it bonds your acolytes to you. But unlike Twitter you don’t have to appeal to everybody. You can make a handsome living appealing to a small fraction of America. But a car company? It’s got to have broad reach, it’s got to have fans in every nook and cranny of the political spectrum.
I’d hesitate to buy a Tesla if I needed a new car right now. And sure, there may be waiting times in America, but there was a slowdown in China… Nothing is unavailable forever, unless it disappears from the market.
People are still buying Apple products because of Steve Jobs. They believed in him and his mission. That’s how important a figurehead is. I don’t know anybody who believes in Chrysler, other than gearheads.
Fandom smooths out the bumps in the road, provides a ready customer base eager to adopt your new products instantly. You never alienate your fans, at least not intentionally. This is rule one in show business.
And be clear, what’s going on with Elon Musk is show business. He loves the attention, the ink, the illusion of power. He believes he’s a rock star. And his underlying product, Tesla, is quite good.
But history is littered with acts who blew up their careers overnight. Billy Squier being the best example. Your image is key. And if your image takes a hit it doesn’t matter how good the underlying music is, people stop listening to it, maybe not all of them, but enough to put a significant dent in your business.
Poll Tesla owners how they feel about Musk. They used to testify, they’re not testifying now.
Do you really want to align yourself with the Elon Musk brand?
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