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Articles/megaposts by DaveT

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by DaveT, Nov 4, 2013.

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  1. Unpilot

    Unpilot Member

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    Here is the problem I think...people don't think.
    That includes most of us. We react we jump to conclusion's and in our more complex era we get it wrong many times.

     
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  2. DaveT

    DaveT Searcher of green pastures

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    You probably shouldn't comment on something you don't know anything about. Sorry to be blunt. But ask any insider in Apple about Phil Schiller. I've observed him closely for 10+ years and even had some correspondence with him. The guy is the real thing. He's one of the main reasons the iOS AppStore is what it is (and why the iPhone has become what it is). He's handled so many developer crises I can't even count, and he's handled them well. The thing about marketing at Apple is that it's not really about advertising. That's just one part. Apple considers product development as the most important part of marketing, and Phil is brought in very early into this process as well.
     
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  3. Ovulation

    Ovulation Member

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    Or the beginning, look up Dutch disease ;)
     
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  4. Alketi

    Alketi Member

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    Surprised to hear you say this Dave. Despite Musk being all over the map, Tesla's issue is not advertising nor message. Tesla still has more orders than they know what to do with.

    In a nutshell, one can illustrate the current dysfunction at Tesla as follows:

    upload_2018-5-29_2-28-49.png

    This means (as we would expect in 2018):

    1. Wi-Fi is easy.
    2. No one implemented it
    3. The CEO isn't even aware it doesn't work

    Point #3 could be said of almost any CEO. Most are utterly clueless on day-to-day operations or technological details. However, the fact it never got implemented points to a deeper dysfunction and paralysis at the management level. And that's the real issue.

    One could also refer to Musk's recent and sudden surprise at the number of contractors and/or Vice Presidents. Why is he just realizing this now?

    In short, it could not be more clear that Tesla needs a COO.
     
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  5. Ovulation

    Ovulation Member

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    Come on you are losing your head, if they are able to put out 5000+ model 3s / week with a margin of 25% in Q4 it's an incredible achievement, the chaos that you are seeing has IMO something to do with the speed they threw the model 3 into the market, it's not a coincident that seasoned analysts like Jonas (who talk to people in the industry) estimated that Tesla would produce almost no model 3 2018.
     
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  6. aubreymcfato

    aubreymcfato Member

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    THIS.
    With great power comes great responsability: Musk has immense communication power, his tweets are read by billions of people, and he should know better, because he's indirectly responsible of some ugly side-effects of them.
    I'm very sorry to say that articles like this do have a point:
    What It’s Like When Elon Musk’s Twitter Mob Comes After You
     
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  7. Lessmog

    Lessmog Active Member

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    Yes, Twitter does seem to be a rather ugly playground, full of bad thoughts and people doing bad things.
    But at the same time it is the preferred medium for fast communication.
    I'm afraid Elon has little choice but to keep a presence there and do his best with the tool that it is.
    I do read some people's tweets but I will never expose myself to the full sewer of it by joining. Refuse to buy its shares too; my choice. One might wish more users could exercise better discipline. And one might wish for a unicorn too ...
     
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  8. JRP3

    JRP3 Hyperactive Member

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    I find it odd that someone as familiar with Elon as you are surprised in the least by his recent tweeting about the media.
     
  9. DaveT

    DaveT Searcher of green pastures

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    #2309 DaveT, May 29, 2018
    Last edited: May 29, 2018
    Actually we might be closer in thought that you realize. I never said Tesla had an "advertising" problem per se. Actually, I think they have many problems, some major and some minor. One of their major problems is communication. So much power in Tesla is in the hands of Elon, and that's a good and bad thing. When people have to wait 6 months for certain parts and can't get an answer from anyone at Tesla, this is symptomatic of actually many problems... communication with customers, internal communication within Tesla, etc. But also it's a problem that customers can't get through to the right person that can make a difference... because often that person is Elon and it's really hard to get through to him. Back in the day, he actually had a personal email and would read them, and would either respond or take action. Now, he has so many levels between him and customers... I don't see how he can see what's going on. Sure, he responds to random tweets... but this is a very inefficient and random way to handle customer complaints and issues.

    Sometimes it seems like things have to blow up to get Elon's attention. Like the Consumer Reports article about Model 3 braking. Otherwise, I don't know how Elon would find out.

    All that said, Tesla really needs someone to keep track with what's going on. They really need someone to be in dialogue with lots of customers, and that person needs to have the authority to make things happen. Elon is falling increasingly behind in his ability to do this role. Sometimes in the past the head of sales (Jerome Guillen or Jon McNeil) would step in and deal with customer issues and communicate with them... but this seems to become even rarer now.

    There's lots of chaos and inefficiency at Tesla. And while I understand Elon's reasons for this (to keep things nimble and fast-moving, etc), I think there are certain things that need to be addressed.

    I'll say it again. Tesla needs to take control of their narrative. And don't misunderstand me, I'm not taking about advertising. I'm taking about, first and foremost, they need to be addressing customer issues and complaints better. Management is becoming increasingly aloof from the on-the-ground realities of customer ownership.

    With Apple, they consider "marketing" as a very broad concept for interacting with customers and non-customers, and bridging the gap between Apple and them. Apple does a ton of stuff behind the scenes to deal with developers and customers and work out issues. Sure, there's always going to be complaints and crises, but Apple tends to quickly address them with high level management stepping in. Apple's faced a lot of crises in the past years, but we don't really remember much of them because they've taken quick action to control the narrative. For example, the iPhone X shipped late and ramped late. Apple took control of the narrative. Apple was slowing down older phones and was found out. They took control of the narrative (explained why and offered free battery replacements). The iPhone 6 Plus was prone to bending... Apple took quick control of the narrative. Actually there are dozens of crises like this just in the past 10 years that I can recount. And Apple was proactive in almost every case. Apple just won't let others steal their narrative. At all costs, they know they need to control the message about themselves. And they have dozens and dozens of ways to do so in a very advanced manner.

    Compare this to Tesla and it seems like Tesla's main communication method is an erratic twitter account from Elon, that tweets sometimes some interesting things but sometimes some very strange stuff.

    I do think Tesla needs a great COO. And I do think they need a great SVP of marketing & customer communication (with the authority to implement company-wide changes on a very high level). Both of these people ought to work together. The COO should have the company operating smoothly and efficiently. And the SVP of marketing & customer communication should be talking to customers all day and making them happy, and from those lessons implementing changes across the company... as well as communicating to the outside world as well, establishing the Tesla narrative.

    Point is, if you don't take control of your own narrative, someone else will.

    And that's been happening during a particular vulnerable time with the Model 3 production ramp fiasco. Yes, I know call it a fiasco. Not so much because of the delays, but more so because how it's been communicated to reservation holders. Tesla has done a terrible job explaining and communicating. Much like how they did a terrible job communicating with Model X reservation holders during the Model X production ramp fiasco, and I complained a lot back them saying if they didn't fix things then they could face the same issue with Model 3 reservation holders. Lots of lost potential fans and customers. Lots of lost credibility as well.

    Most here on TMC will say Tesla will be fine, and I'm not one to argue against that per se. I'm heavily invested in Tesla because I think they will be fine.

    However, there's also another side of things... some things that seem so strong and sturdy, might not be so. Tesla might be really strong, but then they also might be more fragile than some here are assuming. It's the right thing to do for Tesla to do the right thing here and for them to step up their game with communicating with customers and the outside world.
     
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  10. Lessmog

    Lessmog Active Member

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    To repeat:
    Point is, if you don't take control of your own narrative, someone else will.
    Was it Fürst Metternich or Count Bismarck who said "Every country has an army - its own or someone else's"?
     
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  11. sweter

    sweter Member

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    It is, but how many crises and headaches it has caused? How many fires had to be put down? How many of them were very public?

    Elon himself is doing incredible things, imagine what he would be doing if he was freed up from all the day to day issues? And remember only 50% of his time is Tesla.

    There are so so many things Tesla could be doing better. Somebody will say they don't need to, because they will sell every car they can produce for the next several years. True, but maybe with better management the margins could be even higher? New products even better? Customers even more satisfied? (And I know there are many very dissatisfied customers)

    Dave gave very good examples coming from Apple. There have been many many more.

    Maybe with a skilled COO $TSLA wouldn't be getting hit every time there is good news?
     
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  12. Alketi

    Alketi Member

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    Dave, let's state it simply -- Elon needs help. I completely agree.

    I tagged Jon McNeil on reddit late last year and he responded quickly. Now, there's no one in that position but Elon.

    Elon is very personally invested in Tesla, even more so than SpaceX it seems. And that appears to be part of the problem.

    And yes, I agree that the Model 3 is and was a fiasco from an expectations point-of-view. That entirely lies with Elon. If a realistic ramp had been communicated from the start, the perception would be entirely different and it would have diffused much of the outside heckling.

    Let's be frank, Elon actually fuels the hecklers by constantly making stupid predictions that rely on everyone working overtime and executing to absolute perfection.

    I'm secretly wondering if his CC behavior, coupled with recent short-burn rhetoric is a result of him actually biting-his-tongue and keeping his predictions closer to vest. I hope. And, we'll see...
     
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  13. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    There's a story about a donkey. The donkey's owner lent the donkey to a friend to haul a cart, and said "He's gentle and easygoing, no need to be cruel". The friend tried and tried to get the donkey to move, but it wouldn't move. The friend went back to the owner. The owner picked up a 2-by-4 and whacked the donkey on the head. Then the donkey moved. The friend said "I thought you said there was no need to be cruel!" The owner said "Yeah, but first you have to get his attention."

    I am seriously considering filing a lawsuit over the breakage in the USB media player, which was introduced by Tesla after the delivery of my car and therefore is a warranty issue. It should take less than a week's work by one programmer to fix the warranty issue. Nothing has been done for literally years. It seems that the only way to get the attention of the programming team at Tesla is to file a lawsuit or raise a fuss in the media, so that's what I'll do if I have to.

    For another example, it required notifying the copyright holders and having them file a lawsuit to get Tesla to simply *comply with the open source software licenses* for the software they were using. It should not have required filing a lawsuit, but even multiple letters and phone calls to everyone from Musk to the legal department was insufficient; only a lawsuit managed to get their attention.

    This is Tesla's really serious flaw and it's going to take down the company...

    ...as soon as the car market is saturated with electric cars, which is going to take a while.

    Yep. Seems like the only way to get major customer problems resolved is to file a lawsuit. So I guess that's what I'll be doing. If that's how Elon wants to run the company, where federal lawsuits are the only way to get simple bugs fixed, then that's how we'll play it. It's really stupid but Tesla shows no signs of fixing the problem and it's getting worse.

    At this point Tesla's strength is due entirely to the weakness of its "competitors". That's a huge strength. You know the story about the two men in the woods faced by a angry, hungry bear. One of them starts running. The other one says "You can't outrun a bear!" The other says "I don't have to outrun the *bear*...."

    If a competently run electric car company arises which doesn't *break basic functionality in updates* and then *ignore complaints for years* when the bug could be fixed in *a week*, that company will eventually take all of Tesla's marketshare (after ICE cars are eliminated). I'll move over to them immediately. But so far there isn't one on the horizon outside China.
     
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  14. bdy0627

    bdy0627 Active Member

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    I agree with your complaints. Yet, Tesla is very unlikely to slow down enough technologically to allow the competition to catch them. The competition may make competent electric cars by the standard Tesla has set to date. However, by that time, Tesla will be setting a new standard. Tesla will almost certainly continue to run beta software with glitches that we complain about. It's just the nature of the beast. Hopefully, competition will be good for Tesla when it comes.
     
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  15. Ovulation

    Ovulation Member

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    The consensus here seems to be Tesla strength is its ability to rapidly innovate, but people are unwilling to live with the glitches that come with it and demand changes. Don't get me wrong, it would be wonderful if Tesla could innovate lightning fast with flawless execution, I'm just not convinced you can get both.

    BTW. The best thing to get both is probably to go as fast as possible and then look where the weak points in the system are and fix them on the fly. As CEO you can only do such things if you have almost unlimited power and you are stress resistant.

    Because the system was stressed and he found out that Tesla has to go through a matryoshka doll of subcontractors to finally get to the people who do the work. I'm pretty sure that's not a Tesla thing, it's a car industry thing and Tesla will be the first one to address it.
     
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  16. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    I am hopeful because Musk mentioned communications problems in one of the recently leaked memos. He doesn't seem to understand how to fix them, but he does seem to at least finally be paying attention to the *problem*.

    It's insane that Tesla can't fix basic media player stuff in *two years* which I could *personally* fix in a week's work given access to the code. My conclusion is that either (a) there is no programmer assigned to the media player, or (b) that programmer has never received any of the complaints, bug reports, or warranty complaints.

    The situation with Model 3 lacking WiFi is the same damn thing. The department responsible for it -- Tesla's terrible, incompetent programming department -- apparently just never did it, and never got any of the feedback complaining about it (or ignored the feedback if they got it). So Musk finds out by tweet.

    Frankly, if I were running Tesla, I'd sack nearly the entire "software engineering" team: failure to pay attention to customer needs and complaints is fatal. The service center employees have been complaining for years that information sent to the so-called "software engineering" team and goes into a black hole with no feedback. I wouldn't tolerate this sort of behavior on a volunteer project -- I'd fire the volunteers.
     
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  17. neroden

    neroden Happy Model S Owner

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    Stock market anecdote time. I decided to avoid investing in Microsoft in the early 1990s because Microsoft made intentionally defective products. The spreadsheet didn't add properly. (Twice!) Windows deliberately caused crashes in third-party programs. They invented the macro virus (macro viruses are not possible with a sane macro system). They invented the email virus (email viruses are not possible in a sane email system). In order to pretend that their monopolistic practices were technically defensible, they deliberately redesigned Windows to remove all security firewalls, a guarantee that Russian hackers could take over everyone's computer (if you're running Windows, your machine is almost certainly controlled by Russian hackers). They engaged in a whole lot of illegal blackmailing of OEMs.

    Well, turns out that Microsoft stock did very well, despite making the absolute worst products on the market and being comprehensively hostile to their customers and being convicted criminals. I underestimated the value of habit, brand recognition, and compatibility lock-in effects.

    So I've learned that just because a company has some really horrendous flaws doesn't mean that they're a bad investment. My investment thesis for Tesla remains based on the extraordinarily pathetic behavior of the so-called "competition".
     
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  18. bhzmark

    bhzmark Supporting Member

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    #2318 bhzmark, May 30, 2018
    Last edited: May 30, 2018
    I disagree that

    because

    Indeed. I'm fine with impossible targets missed, while the actual results achieved outperform everyone else. Fast innovation is bumpy and messy and hard to predict and not a ride for all people, even at the customer level.

    Suppliers and employees simply won't perform as well with conservative public guidance and instead need aggressive impossible "targets" to perform at the highest levels actually possible.
     
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  19. wdolson

    wdolson Supporting Member

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    Or they will become the Sirius Cybernetics Company...

    I thought the media player code was part of the code released by Tesla a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I missed something.

    Sacking all the programmers and starting over would be a big mistake. Those are the only people who know the system as it is now. I've had to deal with code abandoned by other programmers who were no longer around, it takes a significant time suck to get new programmers up to speed.

    What Tesla needs is my friend who's specialty is turning around stalled or broken software projects. She rarely fires anyone. What she does do is go in and evaluate each team member's strengths and weaknesses and reorganizes the team so people are doing the things they are best at. Some people lack proper motivation, some lack some key skill and are trying to cover, occasionally some are incompetent. But with someone at the helm who doesn't see all programmers as the same and tailors the tasks to the individuals, a disaster can be turned around and made into a successful project.

    Her focus is business systems, so I don't think she'd be the perfect choice for Tesla. There are some differences in approach between business systems and embedded systems, but they need someone like her.

    My view from 700 miles away and from outside the company is that the software side has been somewhat neglected, especially the user interface stuff. The critical systems appear to have fewer problems. There are insane demands on everyone at Tesla, which is why I'd never want to work there, but locking a bunch of programmers in a room until the code gets done will get you something, but it will probably be very buggy. Also the code sprint lifestyle only works for a short time.

    99% of people are initially more productive when they work more than 40 hours a week, but if they keep at it, their productivity drops down to about where they were at 40 hours a week and errors increase. I know I'm that way. Back in my 20s I had to work some insane hours for a while. After being at it for over a month one night on my way home after a 12 hour day a car stopped suddenly in front of me and I almost hit them because my first reaction was I just too tired to care. Fortunately I wasn't following that closely and had enough time to wake up and stop. I also know my productivity drops after several weeks of really long hours.

    People who get obsessive about what they're doing can keep at it longer, usually until their bodies quit on them. I've known a few people who had to throttle back their lives because they got sick (including my SO). Elon is one of those people and his body hasn't given out on him yet, but it will eventually with the level of abuse he puts on it.

    Tesla probably has a higher percentage of obsessive people than the general population, but there comes a point when people are pushed too far. Everyone has a breaking point.
     
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  20. bhzmark

    bhzmark Supporting Member

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    No doubt much of Musk's success comes from his ability to obsess, but he would probably do better to focus the obsession on things other than media tweets. Musk's tweets should probably be more like the Model 3 interior: less is more, and what there is is refined and understated.
     
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