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Is Martin Eberhard still with Tesla Motors?

Discussion in 'Tesla' started by donauker, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. Yanquetino

    Yanquetino Member

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    Expressing deep pain --and heartfelt thanks

    I posted this message under the "news" thread, but will repeat it here:

    -----------------------------------------------------------

    I have lurked around this forum for quite awhile, but have only now registered to express my condolences --and appreciation-- to Martin and Carolyn.

    We'll probably never know the full story of this second so-called "transition," due to the usual non-disparagement agreement, but something sure smells rotten in Denmark, er... South Africa.

    Martin: I want you to know how very much I admire your vision and the years of effort you have put into making Tesla a reality. I seriously doubt that anyone else could have brought the Roadster from a mere idea to actual validation prototypes in such record time, especially with its cutting-edge technology.

    You are, in fact, the "face" of Tesla, its creator and "evangelist." You have always been open, honest, and forthright with the public, something that more CEOs should emulate. The difference, I perceive, is that you are a true leader, while those other yokels are mere managers. Do you think they have ever read "Dilbert"? Well... what we desperately need in this world are more leaders like you, and fewer managers like them. I frankly wouldn't be surprised if many customers now demand a refund upon learning what has happened.

    There is only one consolation I can offer. As Chelsea Sexton remarked to me, if that is the kind of people they are, who would want to continue working with them anyway? In the long run, you're probably better off slamming the door behind you, despite the pain you're likely feeling. Let them rot in their own managerial juices.

    I sincerely wish you, Carolyn, and crew the very best in the future!
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #22 TEG, Dec 2, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2007
    I think that may be going a bit too far.
    As far as I know, Tesla still has people like Wally, JB, Darryl, Alec, etc.
    I would think there are plenty left who share Martin's vision of an EV future, and are strong minded about it.

    I think the more pertinent question would be who is left who can stand up to the board / institutional-investors if they are getting sidetracked from the original vision. There are certainly different business models more likely to make money, but that wasn't the primary goal from what I can tell. My concern is that they could start chasing the wrong kind of green.
     
  3. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Problem is, Martin has an image. He was/is an icon for the idea of pure EV.
    If he had to go, it really means those ideas and visions are not acceptable for Tesla Motors any more. It doesn't matter who is still there. It will only take time until all of them will leave or forget about those ideas.

    If Tesla Motors was still on track, they could easily find some position for him. What they are really saying is: Tesla Motors does not share Martin Eberhard 's ideas any more. We are different company. Just watch what is comming.
     
  4. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #24 TEG, Dec 2, 2007
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2007
    Well, the Tesla Master Plan was published by Elon, not Martin...

    I can think of all sorts of reasons why Martin might have been pushed out that don't necessarily mean that vision or mission has been lost.
    I am going to resist the urge to post them as speculations here.
     
  5. Yanquetino

    Yanquetino Member

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    The biggest irony of all...

    ...is that the company was named to finally pay proper homage to Nikola Tesla, the true, unsung visionary of electricity who was shunted by the very same sort of corporate mentality. :eek: Sorry, folks, but from this point forward I'm going to refer to the company as "Edison Motors."
     
  6. JFH

    JFH Member

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    Martin, I too am very dissapointed with you being removed from Tesla Motors. I was never a car fanatic because I felt it was a waste of fuel. Then you and your vision came along and produced an amazing car. Yes, you had a bunch of very bright and dedicated engineers working for you but your leadership and vision is what gave them the motiviation and drive to get it done. The other thing that impressed me with you and Tesla was your honesty and transparency. I have never seen that in a startup company with so much at stake and it was refreshing to know that you were not trying to hide any of the problems. Maybe if Elon didn't insist that you lower the sills you would have passed the side impact crash test the first time through.

    Unfortunately, I am not in the position to afford a Roadster but I was looking forward to the Whitestar. I was willing to pay a premium to purchase that vehicle but now I'm not so sure. If the Whitestar turns out to be just another PEHV then I'll have to look elsewhere. I wish the best for you Carolyn and the kids and look forward to you new blog.
     
  7. Tachy

    Tachy Member

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    Great job, Martin!

    You did a great job, because you tell all the people, that an electric car doesn't need to be slow and ugly at all!

    Anyway you've inspired many drivers and automakers to think about electric cars again! Here in Germany, there is a big hype on electric and series hybrid driven cars yet.

    A german battery maker (www.li-tec.de) has invented a secure LiIon Cell, the separators in this cell can withstand temperatures of 550 °C (normal cells: 65 °C!), so they won't overheat anymore.

    The electric car IS the future! We have to get rid of oil immediately.


    Thanks Martin!


    Greets,

    Tachy from Germany.
     
  8. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Has anyone else noticed that openness had erroded?
    The last blog of that kind was Martin's electric survey. After that only PR.
     
  9. AGR

    AGR Member

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    Martin, best wishes to you, you will certainly continue in the same direction. There are many opportunities with "electric vehicles" and although Tesla garnered a lot of publicity, raised the level of awareness for electric vehicles.

    Lately it seemed there were "issues" that were not being communicated. That Tesla is facing a chasm which is not crossed yet.
     
  10. MaxPower

    MaxPower New Member

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    Over the past month, I have been nothing less than fanatical about this car and the company behind it. The promise shown by the technology involved was inspiring but it was Martin's vision that made me believe this company could actually make a difference. These developments change everything, and while I'm still hoping for great things from Tesla, I am not holding my breath.

    Best of luck in your future endeavours, Martin, we'll be watching for you.

    --Chad aka MaxPower
     
  11. The Other Martin

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    I guess I'll have to change my Tag

    I'm 48 years old, about the same as Martin Eberhard. (My first name is Martin and my last name starts with an "E".) When one of the guys in my carpool told me about the Tesla Roadster on the way home early this year, his excitement got my attention. I looked it up when I got home and have been hooked ever since. I've told a lot of people about this grand idea, and defended the Secret Master Plan when people complained about the initial cost.

    I'm not a car guy, although my 75-year old Dad is. I'm a civil engineer, and I work for a state department of transportation. I'm a transportation guy. The Tesla Motors concept has captured my imagination, and I see it as revolutionary, even though there is a lot of talk about EVs today. It has to potential to change the world.

    It was undoubtedly Martin's leadership that made me a disciple. I'm excited about the future of Nanosolar, too, but they are clearly just a company. They don't care about individuals like me eagerly awaiting the opportunity to cover my roof with inexpensive solar panels. Tesla, however, was more than a company - it was a compelling idea. And Martin was the voice of the company, and a gentle sense of humor and an approachable personality. I felt as if we could be buddies. He was the leader/visionary, not the manager/bureaucrat/employee.

    So, like everyone else here, I'm disappointed and discouraged. Tesla may survive, but those of us who are fans (short for "fanatics") are definitely experiencing a lessening of zeal. A startup company facing a multitude of problems needs the exact opposite. Unlike many others here, I won't mind if the WhiteStar is a plug-in battery EV with a small ICE. It's good enough for me if I can do most of my driving on electricy. Now the question is, "will they ever get there, or will they sell out to the big boys, or worse - fail outright?"

    Enough moping. Mr. Drori - if you have a personality and any real love for Tesla Motors, show us. Tell us. Convince us. Treat Martin with the respect he deserves. Be a real leader, and we'll follow.

    Martin - we respect/love/miss you. Don't stay discouraged. Keep going.
     
  12. Brent

    Brent Member

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    Because of the complexity involved with hybrids, I'd probably want a hybrid Lexus over a hybrid Whitestar. If the car is going to have to use gasoline, then I want a car company that has the proven ability to make reliable engines. TM knows motors and battery packs. It has little knowledge of engines.

    If Martin's leaving means that TM loses its all-electric car vision, then I think TM will end up another failed car company among many.
     
  13. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    I agree entirely. To be successful as a small company they have to bring something else to the table. The focus on selling the ESS to other BEV manufacturers (like TH!NK) made sense.

    Trying to sell to the big boys is fraught. Even if the Tesla ESS is THE top product, these companies can afford to yawn and feign uninterest to kill Tesla off. Look how much money they've poured into Hydrogen research. And for what? PR!

    But if Tesla moves into making hybrids or re-engineering and supplying parts for hybrids, bang goes their uniqueness.

    As far as the general public is concerned, a hybrid is a hybrid is a hybrid. That way lies obscurity and closure.
     
  14. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Where are my manners?

    Hi, The Other Martin. Thankyou for a great first post.
     
  15. The Other Martin

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    Hi, Malcolm; hi everybody.

    Thanks for all the great content. I'm still hoping for the best.
     
  16. MaryKathleenFlynn

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  17. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Green Wombat talks to Martin and Elon

    http://greenwombat.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2007/12/04/tesla-motors-founder-ousted/

    Full copy for the archives:

    Tesla Motors founder ousted
    For Tesla Motors founder Martin Eberhard, getting news of his ouster was like glancing at the review mirror and seeing one of his electric Roadster supercars approaching at 130 miles an hour without a sound.

    In other words, he was blindsided. “Somebody in the company asked me if I would be leaving at a certain date and I said, `I don’t think so,’ but that turned out to be the case,” Eberhard told Fortune’s Green Wombat.

    The date was last Friday and Tesla left Eberhard by the side of the road just months before the Silicon Valley electric car company rolls its hotly-anticipated Roadster off the production line and into the hands of celebrity customers like the Google founders and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Green Wombat spoke to Eberhard and Tesla chairman Elon Musk Monday afternoon about the changes at Tesla and the company’s plans for the future.

    Eberhard, long the public face of Tesla, stepped down as president of technology and gave up his board seat in a move that is — depending on who’s talking — either part of a planned transition or a hit-and-run take-out of the founder following the appointment of a new chief executive last week. The shakeup comes as Tesla wrestles with a transmission problem that has delayed production of the $100,000 all-electric car that does zero-to-60 in four seconds and can go 245 miles on a single charge.

    In August, Eberhard, who started Tesla five years ago with the financial backing of PayPal alum Musk, relinquished his CEO spot so the San Carlos, Calif., startup could hire a top executive with experience in large-scale manufacturing. Former Flextronics chief Michael Marks took over as interim CEO, but Eberhard says he never expected to be booted from the company.

    “I truthfully thought I’d be spending quite a few more years at Tesla Motors,” says Eberhard before boarding a flight in Burbank to San Francisco. “The only surprise was that the board no longer wanted me as part of the company. There wasn’t any major disagreement going on, not that I know of anyway.”

    As Eberhard recounts it, Musk told him about a month ago that he wanted him to leave at some unspecified future date. “I thought it was a strange notion to kick the founder out of the company anyway, where there wasn’t a big ideological difference on the board where we wanted to go,” Eberhad says. “For all Elon’s character and personality, he’s trying to solve same problem as I am. “

    The end came suddenly last week. On Wednesday, Tesla announced the replacement of Marks with a permanent CEO, tech veteran Ze’ev Drori, founder of chip company Monolithic Memories. Two days later Eberhard was packing up his office. “Elon did talk to me about leaving the company without having a [board] vote,” Eberhard says. “I left voluntarily when it was clear that I wasn’t going to win a vote anyway.” Eberhard, who will serve on a Tesla advisory board, says Musk explained why he was being ousted “only in the vaguest terms.”

    When I reach Musk on his cell phone and put the question to him, he pauses and laughs a bit nervously. “I don’t know what to say without being negative,” says Musk, whose other post-PayPal ventures include rocket company SpaceX and solar systems installer Solar City. “It did not make sense for him to be at the company. Of course, if the board thought if it would be better for him to stay he would still be there.”

    “I don’t think its ideological, it was more operational, I suppose,” he adds. “There wasn’t an obvious role for Martin.”

    That rankles some at Tesla, acknowledges Darryl Siry, the company’s vice president of sales, marketing and service. “I think for a lot of people who have identified with Martin for many years and who are emotionally connected to Martin as a leader at Tesla, this transition is a bit jarring,” he says. “But we have to all adapt and move on. “

    As CEO, Eberhard used Tesla’s blogs to interact with electric car enthusiasts and customers, giving them an unusually detailed look at the development of the Roadster. As his final act he posted a farewell on a Tesla fan site. “I am also not going to lie about it. I am not at all happy with the way I was treated,” he wrote, “and I do not think this was the very best way to handle a transition — not the best for Tesla Motors, not the best for Tesla’s customers (to whom I still feel a strong sense of responsibility), and not for Tesla’s investors. ” (Tesla has attracted a roster of investors that include Google (GOOG) founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page as well as venture capital firms VantagePoint Venture Partners, Technology Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.)

    Some Tesla insiders tell Green Wombat they believe Eberhard’s departure is more the result of personality clash with Musk rather than the speed bumps Telsa has hit as it gears up to get the Roadster on the road to meet the expectations of the tech titans, Hollywood celebs and others who have have plunked down six figures for the car. Telsa put plans to sell electric car batteries to other manufacturers on hold while it focuses on the two-seater’s transmission, which hasn’t met the company’s durability standards.

    “It’s our biggest issue,” says Musk. “Unfortunately the company picked the wrong supplier, not once but twice, and now we’re on to our third. I feel pretty confident the way things are going but I personally had to take a hand in getting us there.” He says in recent months he’s spent up to a third of his time at Tesla.

    “The first production cars should be out in the next few months,” Musk says. “It’s going to be a fairly slow stream until we clear up the production issues. We need to work on production costs as well.”

    Musk offered a preview of what’s next for Tesla, saying that early next year the company will unveil its second model, a sports sedan code-named WhiteStar. Tesla also is developing a next-generation transmission, battery and drive train, which it expects to be production-ready in a couple years. “What we’re working on in the shop is a significant advance,” he claims.

    Rather than just sell batteries to other electric car manufacturers, Musk says Tesla aims to provide the complete drive train package — motor, transmission, battery and software.

    “I think the right path for Tesla is as an independent company,” he says. “As soon as the timing is right we’ll take the company public and use that capital to fund additional product development. We see Tesla as being one of the great car companies of the 21st century and not as a nameplate of some big auto company. We really want Tesla to branch out and have a wide range of models. Our primary interest is how do we get as many electric miles as possible.”

    Eberhard says it’ll be difficult to watch from the sidelines. “I wish things were different, for sure. I still feel a strong sense of loyalty to the company. It’s been my life for the past five years. It’s not just a business. It’s a company I started for ideological reasons as well as business reasons — to deal with climate change, oil dependence.”

    Under Eberhard Tesla almost single-handedly revived the electric car just a few years after it was declared dead, pushing General Motors (GM) to develop its own EV, the Volt. (GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz acknowledged as much in a recent interview with U.S News & World Report. “When Tesla announced they were building a car, that kind of tore it for me. I thought, ‘If some little West Coast outfit can do this, we can no longer stand by.’ “)

    Eberhard says he’ll take a few months to figure out his next step. In the meantime, he still has his Roadster to look forward to.

    He’s No. 2 on the waiting list, right behind Musk.
     
  18. maddog

    maddog New Member

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    This reminds me of Jobs and Sculley -1985

    This situation reminds me of when Steve Jobs searched for someone to lead Apple, and that successor, John Sculley, had him fired - err resign. Hopefully Martin will find his way back to Tesla, but that is probably wishful thinking. Like the article above indicates, there probably was personality conflicts as well as operational problems. It is hard to have more than one boss, and he who has the gold makes the rules.
     
  19. malcolm

    malcolm Active Member

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    Hi maddog. Welcome.

    Right there with you on the wishful thinking :)

    The least we can do is to keep posting on various sites to keep Martin's name associated with the Roadster.
     
  20. mike

    mike EVangelist

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    FYI - It looks like he got his blog up and running.
     

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