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Campaign to reinstate Martin

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Chris H., May 11, 2008.

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  1. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    #1 Chris H., May 11, 2008
    Last edited: May 11, 2008
    Background

    When I first heard about Tesla Motors, and the Roadster, in the Fall of 2006, I was highly skeptical that anyone could build a vehicle with the kind of performance and efficiency that was being claimed. However, I was intrigued, so I read everything that I could find about the company and the car. I watched the videos on Youtube, I read the website, including the white papers, and I scoured the media outlets for news stories about Tesla. As many of you know, back then, there were two people who were the face of TM: Martin Eberhard and Elon Musk. Both seemed to be intelligent, likable guys with a genuine enthusiasm for what they were doing, and a vision for the future that was both inspiring and uplifting. For someone like me, who was extremely concerned about humanity's impact on the planet, this company and this car seemed to be one small part of "the solution", reducing the World's reliance on oil, and demonstrating that there were other, potentially better ways, to transport people in their daily lives. For me, and many others, Tesla Motors was a bright beacon on an otherwise gloomy horizon.

    Trouble in Paradise

    The first hint to the outside world that things at Tesla Motors were not quite as rosy as would appear was the announcement in August 2007 that Martin was being replaced as CEO by interim CEO, Michael Marks. Initially this set off alarm bells for me, but as I read the press release, and considered the rationalization for the move, as well as comments by Martin himself that this was in the best interest of the company, my concerns were allayed. Now I see that move in a different light. I see it as the first step towards the door. Apparently Elon Musk does not like to share the spotlight with anyone.
    Of course, the real bombshell came at the beginning of December 2007 when we found out that Martin had “transitioned to the Advisory Board”. We now all know what that really meant, and it was our first taste of Tesla Motors new attitude towards the truth and transparency. We had to wait to hear from Martin before we got some straight talk, and his words confirmed our fears:
    “Yes it is true - I am no longer with Tesla Motors”.
    Due to concerns about legal retaliation from Tesla Motors, Martin could share very little information about his ejection from the company that he and Marc Tarpenning had created and guided through its difficult first five years. Tesla Motors had gagged him with the threat of litigation that they could afford, but he could not. The coup was complete, and Martin’s baby had been abducted by aliens… so to speak.

    Martin’s Contribution

    Apart from the initial brilliant idea to create a high performance EV that was powered by commodity lithium ion batteries, Martin overcame numerous business and technical hurdles in order to bring us the Tesla Roadster. From the almost hopeless task of finding funding for a “start-up electric car company”, to finding the right people (such as J.B. Straubel & Barney Hatt), to the numerous technical hurdles involved in designing and building the energy storage system (the “battery pack”), the power electronics module (PEM), and the high efficiency AC induction motor, Martin demonstrated resourcefulness, intelligence, persistence, and vision. He did all this while maintaining a commitment to openness and honesty that may be unprecedented in the business world. He also did this while diplomatically running interference from the “money man”. Without Martin Eberhard there would be no Tesla Motors and no Tesla Roadster, period.

    Why “rock the boat” Chris?

    There are many reasons, let me see if I can explain some of them. First, I need to ask each of you some questions. Do you truly believe that Tesla Motors is a better company now that Martin has been unceremoniously discarded like yesterday’s news? Do you believe that Tesla Motors is now more forthright and open than it was under Martin’s leadership? Do you believe that there would be fewer Roadsters on the road now, or more, if Martin were still CEO of Tesla Motors? Do you believe that the rightful leader, and the most effective leader, for Tesla Motors is Martin Eberhard?
    I will let you decide on your own answers to these questions, but I will tell you what I believe.
    I believe that under Martin’s leadership Tesla Motors was more productive, progressive, and honest. Without interference from Elon Musk, I believe the Roadster could have begun regular production months earlier, and so there would be far more Roadsters delivered to customers today. I believe that the rightful leader, and the best person for the job, at Tesla Motors is Martin Eberhard, and I believe that it is our obligation as EV enthusiasts and Tesla Motors fans and customers to make our voices heard in the boardroom. If you feel the same way that I do, I would encourage you to add your name to the list of people on this thread and throw your support behind the campaign to reinstate Martin Eberhard as CEO of Tesla Motors.

    Thank you.

    All the best,

    Chris Harvey.
     
  2. Martin

    Martin Tesla Founder

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    Some More History

    The timing of my departure is interesting. I was informed that I was being replaced as CEO the day before my talk to the Motor Press Guild - the beginning of Tesla's rollout in the the automotive magazines.

    I was informed that I was to be entirely out of the company the week before Tesla began showing the Roadster to the car magazines and letting journalists drive for the first time.

    The result of this timing is that my name is almost completely absent from the Roadster's introduction articles in all the major car magazines; they are all about Elon Musk and "his" Tesla Motors.

    Coincidence?

    Do you know how I first found out when I was to leave the company? The first word came from Siry, who called me up on a Tuesday to confirm wording for a press release about my departure that Friday. (I though he must be mistaken until Elon and Michael confirmed that timing the next day.) So Siry knew that I was fired before even I did... (How did he know?) Siry was also the one arranging the meetings with the automotive press, and knew what the timing of the interviews would be. He also is the one who arranged all the interviews with Elon, starting the week after I left...

    This chain of coincidences gives me some insight into the real reason Elon wanted me out of the company.
     
  3. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Well Martin did not say if he was interested in going back but I would like him reinstated and I have said so here and on other sites.

    The company is without a face. Or worse, now the company has multiple faces.

    Martin was (is) a great combination of likeable nerd and brilliant visionary. A convincing motivator, he had a lot of people including Elon give his idea massive amounts of capitol and had many buyers purchase a 100 thousand dollar car sight unseen. Sure the car did that too but guess what? That was his idea too.

    Elon is just too busy with SpaceX etc. to speak for Tesla so he should just let Martin do it and get the credit as the man with the vision to fund to company.

    Please bring Martin back so customers and Press can believe in Tesla again.

    PS
    I have also suggested that Martin act as 15th in line for the Presidency as the next Secretary of Energy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Secretary_of_Energy Though I'm sure it would not pay as much as his next a CEO gig, I would love a man with his vision heading up the way our world will run in the future.
     
  4. deenko

    deenko Member

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    In my opinion, it would be great to have Martin back at TM. But, after layoffs, cost cutting, etc, the company is just not what is used to be. I do not know if the changes are for the better or not, but I do know that it is not the same place that Martin left. As a result, I would fully support Martin's return, if he decide to go back. I also support and understand the decision to not go back.

    I, for one, would like to see Martin on the board, at the very least. Something to balance out Elon's thinking.
     
  5. philweicker

    philweicker New Member

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    I applied for a job at Tesla around the time of the "Great Schism"--but I feel a bit better about their decision not to make me an offer if they don't want Martin, or Rudy Garriga, or Wally Rippel either.

    Seriously guys, going back is almost impossible. Management shakeups often happen when capital gets injected and the balance of power shifts. Sometimes they're ugly, sometimes they're not, but those who are cut almost never look back.

    Another thing to remember: there are two very different kinds of leaders that I have met. There are those who specialize in building something from nothing, and there are those who are better suited to running the ship once it's sailing smoothly. In my limited but colourful experience, the builders need to find something new to build once the last baby is ready to leave the nest.

    Martin, I'm moving to Monrovia in 3 weeks. If you're looking for a hot-shot electric motor and power electronics engineer for your next project, let me know :p
     
  6. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Hi Phil,

    first of all, welcome to the blog. It's always good to have a new voice posting.

    Now, I would like to respond to some of the ideas you raised. When you said:

    "Another thing to remember: there are two very different kinds of leaders that I have met. There are those who specialize in building something from nothing, and there are those who are better suited to running the ship once it's sailing smoothly."

    I think that you are forgetting a third type of leader: a leader who can both initiate a new project and then maintain the project effectively once it is up and running. A good example of this kind of leader is my neighbour, Mike Lazaridis. He started a little company called Research In Motion a few years back, when he developed push email technology. I haven't heard too much about him lately, but I think he's managing to keep the ship afloat...

    Research In Motion

    I'm not saying that this automatically means that Martin would be this "third kind" of leader, but I believe that, at the very least, he deserves a chance to demonstrate his capability to run the company that he was so instrumental in building. Martin was not pushed out because of any failure on his behalf to provide effective leadership. He was not pushed out because he lost the confidence of his employees or customers. He was pushed out because Elon Musk did not want to share the limelight, the glory, or the credit for the Tesla Roadster. I think that this is a very poor reason to deprive a man of his livelihood, his dreams, and the credit that was most certainly his.

    As to your other point:

    "Seriously guys, going back is almost impossible. Management shakeups often happen when capital gets injected and the balance of power shifts. Sometimes they're ugly, sometimes they're not, but those who are cut almost never look back."

    I have two words: "Steve" and "Jobs". I'm guessing that you can figure that one out.

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  7. philweicker

    philweicker New Member

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    Thanks for the welcome!

    I thought Jim Balsillie (RIM's co-CEO) was responsible for the financial stability and day-to-day at RIM and Mike remained focussed on product development and R&D?

    I made the comment not in suggesting that Martin wasn't able to do the job--more that the responsibility of the CEO will at some point shift from a startup CEO's role (attract capital, create hype about your product, inspire a team that is usually overworked and underpaid, believe in it when nobody else will) to the role of a CEO in a more typical competitive business environment. If Tesla and their investors succeed in making money selling electric cars, the market will obviously fill up. Tesla's CEO will worry about things like competitive advantages, price/earnings ratio and how they're going to sell more EV's than the next guy. I'm more suggesting he may not want to go back...

    The comment about Steve Jobs is an interesting one... A few things to remember though...
    -Apple has already completed a successful IPO (making SJ a millionaire). Steve later sold his stake in Apple. I am not sure whether Martin has maintained his ownership stake in TM.
    -SJ wanted an experienced executive and hired John Sculley to be CEO
    -Steve came back to the fold when his company was bought out by Apple.
    -He didn't exactly spend the ten years between 1986 and 1996 pounding on Apple's doors.

    It's certainly not impossible. I'm just thinking it's not likely.

    How are things in Waterloo? I used to live in Hamilton.
     
  8. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Well, at this moment certainly and unfortunately it is impossible. There are to many fresh wounds for them to heal over the weeks end.

    If Tesla Motors continues to be a wild success (with WhiteStar and BlueStar going like hotcakes) it will continue to be impossible.

    But if the company stumbles with whitestar or bluestar project, looses a huge amount of money, many investors pull out and Elon takes a lot of beating and possibly sells his stake then maybe the remainder investors might decide that it is againt time for Martin to pull them out of deep waters.

    With Elon being chief designer of Whitestar I do not know what to wish for nor what to expect ...
     
  9. BBHighway

    BBHighway Member

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    This site has gotten really wierd. You might just as well start a campaign to empty the oceans with a spoon. That's every bit as likely.

    It's done. It was unfortunate. Move on.
     
  10. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    vfx,

    thanks for your support. I agree with you wholeheartedly with regards to TM losing its "face". Ze'ev is keeping a low profile so that he doesn't share Martin's fate. Elon is busy preparing for his summer fireworks display, and DS just comes off as a smug, somewhat greasy, sales exec who can't believe that he just met BONO! BONO! Can you believe it!!!! :rolleyes: (BTW, I think that Paul is a decent guy, at least he tries to put his celebrity to good use. Side note: Paul Hewson and Martin Eberhard were born 5 days apart in 1960, albeit on different continents).

    I also think that Martin would be an excellent choice for Barack's Secretary of Energy, but let's not get sidetracked here! :smile:

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  11. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Blackbird,

    don't be such a defeatist!

    Try to put yourself in Martin's shoes for just one moment. Can you even imagine what it must be like to be betrayed to that extent?

    Your "Suck-it-up-and-move-on" attitude might be a little different if it had happened to you, but then again, someone with your outlook would probably never have started an electric car company because it would be like trying to "empty the oceans with a spoon".

    Try and have some empathy for another human being who has brought us so much, and has been treated so badly... :mad:

    Chris H.
     
  12. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Nikola rolls in his grave...

    vfx,

    when you said:

    " Martin did not say if he was interested in going back but I would like him reinstated and I have said so here and on other sites."

    you were, of course, correct. Martin has not publicly stated that he would like to return to TM, nor is he likely to. Try to put yourself in Martin's position right now. He has been treated very badly, and in a very public way. You don't volunteer for additional punishment, nor do you give your tormentors another opportunity to smack you when you're already down.

    There are two ways of communicating in a written forum such as this: what you say, and what you DON'T say. I have given Martin the opportunity here to say "hey Chris, that's a nice gesture, but really, you don't have to..." Martin has chosen to NOT say that. Instead he offered more information as to the motives behind Elon's actions. So, if you read between the lines, that is an implicit "OK, let's see where this goes".

    If I felt that Martin was against the idea of accepting support (moral or otherwise) from the Tesla/EV community, I would be willing to abandon this campaign. However, I believe that Martin needs and wants our support, he just cannot be explicit about asking for it.

    Note to Martin: Have you checked your Private Messages lately?

    If the people on this forum have any respect or empathy for Martin, how difficult is it to come out and say:

    "Yes, I believe that Martin Eberhard is the best person to run Tesla Motors, and I support the campaign to have him reinstated as CEO of that company".

    I hope that all the members who have chosen to remain silent on this issue will reconsider their positions, and at least join the conversation.

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  13. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Well,

    we've had over 550 "views" of this thread so far, and only 6 people have had the courage to speak up, and one of them was Martin. I have seen many posts on many sites that indicate to me that there are many people out there who both admire and support Martin, so what's the deal? Are people that afraid of Elon? Do people feel that Ze'ev is doing such a wonderful job that we should let him keep it? Or perhaps some people are unsure as to what Martin's take is on this unusual turn of events.

    Rest assured that this campaign would not be underway if Martin wished it otherwise. I have given him several opportunities to tell me (both publicly & privately) whether I should discontinue this effort. Up to this point, he has not asked me to stop...

    One other possibility exists, and that is that people think this is a hopeless cause with no chance of success. Is that it? If so, let me ask you this. Do you only ever attempt something if you are given a 100% chance of success? Don't you ever try something just because you believe it is the right thing to do? Nothing comes with a 100% guarantee, and sometimes in life you just have to stand up and be counted. If Martin waited for a 100% guarantee of success, there would be no Tesla Motors, and no Tesla Roadster. Think about it.

    The final possibility is that you just don't care what happens to the man who brought us the company that this blog is named for, but I just don't believe that. I've been following these blogs for nearly two years now, and I've gotten to know many members through their comments, and I have found you to be a thoughtful, insightful, and even caring, online community. So what gives? One of your own is in trouble and could use your support. Why aren't you there for him?

    Anyway, it's your choice, you can continue to pretend that this thread doesn't exist, or you can become part of the dialogue. As always, it is your choice. Just remember that your silence speaks volumes.

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  14. Dogtown

    Dogtown Karma #1250

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    Chris-

    With each post your soapbox is getting shorter.
     
  15. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Dogtown,

    when you receive the letter that says that Tesla Motors is unable to deliver your Roadster, you will think back to this comment and realize that it was not so witty after all...

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  16. mt2

    mt2 Member

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    Chris,

    I, too, would love to see Martin back at TM. But I think the timing is all wrong. Two things have to happen first.
    1. TM has to go public. Right now control of the company is in the Board's hands. And the largest investor - the Chairman - controls the Board. Once TM goes public the balance of power will shift.
    2. TM has to falter so that the shareholders demand change. Delay the Whitestar or watch sales flatten against the Karma and Volt. Whatever it takes for the shareholders to demand that original vision of TM is reignited.
    You can't make change happen just because you believe it should. There has to be motive and means.
     
  17. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Mark,

    Thank you! Finally, somebody willing to engage in a dialogue on this issue. First of all, I agree with you. The two points that you brought up are excellent, and they are essentially part of the content of an email that I sent to Martin yesterday. Let me quote a small section:

    "I know that Elon has the Board stacked with friends, allies, and family. He is probably also the largest single shareholder in the company, right? (I am trying to compile a comprehensive list of investors and their relative stakes in the company.) He appears to have an iron grip on the company at this point, but fortune is a fickle friend Martin, as I'm sure you're already aware."

    Believe me when I say that I tend to think "long term". Your observation that:

    "Once TM goes public the balance of power will shift."

    is right on the money. Keep in mind that Elon does not have much experience with publicly traded companies, anxious shareholders, or the SEC. The kind of moves that he's making right now would not be tolerated by the marketplace. The amount of real progress that has been made by TM since Martin left is both negligible and superficial. Unfortunately some people on this blog, and others, are easily distracted by a few blue lights and baubles. We need to be able to maintain our focus on the fundamental condition of the company, and right now it's starting to look a little sick. By my estimation, it is taking TM 3X longer than originally planned to produce a Roadster. If that is correct, delivery dates could go from 15 months to nearly 4 years. How do you think that's going to look for the IPO? Two possible outcomes are: rush the IPO before this issue becomes obvious to the investment community, or, delay the IPO until the problems can be resolved. It appears to me that "ole money bags" is running out of cash, so what do you think he's going to do?

    Anyway, I'd love to talk about your second point, but it's getting really late here (EST), and I need some sleep. I'll post again in the morning.

    All the best,

    Chris H.
     
  18. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    There's a dialogue now? When did that happen? :biggrin:

    Part of my problem with all this is that long ago Martin stated that his time at the helm of TM would be temporary anyway. He is a Start-Up engineer - it's what he enjoys and what he excels at - and he acknowledged that others with more experience with running car firms would need to take over the mass production side.

    This would have allowed him (I would imagine) to lead the R&D on the ESS, Motors, PEMs, Regenerative Braking, Transmission systems, the No-noise issue, Home Chargers, PV integration, etc etc. All he needs to generate world-changing ideas is a small office and one other guy (like Marc). That's an astonishing gift.

    A crucial component was that Tesla was going to be "a different kind of car company", a place where something of the Start-Up spirit could endure.

    Well as we all know, Start-Ups have a habit of drawing in Up-Starts :wink:

    The relevant (and contradictory) old sayings here are - "You can never go back" and "never say never".

    Hmmmmmm.....

    I want to see Martin enjoying life and working in a place which can keep pace with his remarkable talents. Anywhere else is kind of a waste.
     
  19. Michael

    Michael Member

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    I would agree that unless, and until, Martin actually speaks out on what his specific interest and goal is; that it would be best if we wait until then to provide whatever support he would like us to provide.

    I don't believe there will be any swaying of Tesla Management except via investors or via customers making decisions based on their satisfaction, or lack thereof.
     
  20. Chris H.

    Chris H. Member

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    Mark,

    As to your second point, let me quote another snippet of my email to Martin:

    "If Elon/Ze'ev drops the ball (and this appears to already be happening) then stakeholders may call for changes... Add to the mixture an IPO and activist shareholders, and who knows?"

    So you see, we are on the same page. Keep in mind that there has not even been a groundbreaking on the Whitestar plant. The body design is "back to the drawing board" (literally!) with Elon holding the pencil. Does this sound like progress to you? Talk about counting your chickens... :rolleyes:

    Again, I tend to think long term, on this, and most other issues. However, as WarpedOne succinctly put it:

    "There are to many fresh wounds for them to heal over the weeks end."

    And, of course he has an excellent point, but nobody said that this would happen over the weekend. It doesn't hurt to plan ahead, and get all your ducks in a row, so to speak. Anybody who thought that this could possibly happen in a few weeks, or even a few months, is even more naive than me! :biggrin:

    BTW, shareholders just love litigation, NOT! (my little homage to Darryl).

    Anyway, all the best,

    Chris H.
     
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