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Martin Eberhard: How blogs helped build the Tesla Roadster

Discussion in 'News' started by DavidV, Jun 13, 2009.

  1. DavidV

    DavidV Member

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    For those saturated with reading about legal issues and claims, here is Martin's guest blog post to Tendo from late yesterday afternoon on the significance of blogging in support of launching Tesla and the Roadster program:

    Martin Eberhard: How blogs helped build the Tesla Roadster | The Tendo View

    Enjoy and please feel free to comment and/or post follow-up questions.

    -- DavidV
     
  2. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Those early blogs sure stirred the imagination and got Tesla noticed in a big way. There was really no advertising budget, right? It was just blogs to start the word spreading, and then the first year model got pre-sold out right away.
    Actually it was rather shocking that Tesla was able to get so many deposits considering the substantial amount that had to be put down, and the fact that the company had no track record. I think the blogs gave customers the connection they needed to feel like this was real. There was certainly no shortage of other EV companies who failed to deliver and would have made it all that much harder for Tesla to seem credible.

    I miss those early blogs - it was really fun to watch something grow like that and to hear about the accomplishments and challenges along the way.
     
  3. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Nice to see (and not surprising) to see Martin so self aware. Many who have found out about Tesla later can't understand the loyalty he built up for the company only to have that loyalty split between the man and his car -now being raised by a stepfather.

    I just said in ABG about how I think sales of the car with Martin at the helm would be even greater than now because he spent time doing visible things in interesting ways all in the name of Electric transportation and crafting Tesla's image. The press loved have a face to the car and the company. Again, Elon's ego was probably smoldering every time Martin was quoted in the mainstream press. The entire automotive world is changing because of Martin's idea and Elon does not seem to be satisfied with being the man smart enough to fund the company, he also wants the credit for the idea.

    Martin's has largely stopped writing in his own blog but when he does it's usually something useful and funny. A winning combination in a world populated by boring nerds.

    TEG was one of those "key bloggers" as evidenced by him getting the first drive in a Roadster. Talk about creating loyalty.
     
  4. DAL

    DAL Member

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    Evolution of the TM Blog (or, "How to Kill a Blog in 4 Easy Steps")

    As a social scientist, one of the most interesting things about the TM Blog is how it evolved over time. If I ever get the chance to compose it, the TM Blog would make an interesting case study. As I see it, there were four main phases:
    - Introduction: This seemed to last a few months. Early posts were very informative, and encouraged participation. Excitement was high, and many posts were information-seeking.
    - Growth/Golden Age: This seemed to last about a year. Growth in participation was fairly pronounced, with quite a few repeat-posters--but with relatively even participation (between old and new posters). Top management was engaged, even to the point of responding to posts--no matter how inflammatory they may have been. Somewhere towards the end of this phase, on-line e-zines and paper-bases magazines began picking up newsworthy information off the Blog, feeding a hungry secondary market for the information.
    - Transition/Decline: As Blog responsibilities moved off the CEOs desk to the marketing department, the flavor began to change. Still a good source of news and events, the frequency of new posts and replies began to drop off somewhat. The marketing flavor was noticeable in the choice of topics (such as the posts outlining the initial test drives of early purchasers)--not necessarily a bad thing. Participation began to wane, and early heavy posters began to disappear, although of those that remained, there was a certain amount of territorial tendency--chastising new/ignorant posters for asking questions that had been asked a thousand times before (like the idea of mounting a solar panel on the chassis or adding a "windmill"). New posters arrived to take their place, but the sense of community on the site started to wane somewhat. Competitors arose (such as this site and ME's site), and began to siphon off the original regular participants.
    - Death: Almost all of the initial regular posters are gone (perhaps still reading, but no longer willing to participate). The company message is now firmly being pressed, with little or no response from the online community (most recent post before EMs has 6 responses to date--4 from old posters, and 2 new). No new information on the Blogs (most new information preceded with a press release).
     
  5. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    DAL,

    Nice breakdown. Where did the one page blog to 4 pages happen for you? Was that the Marketing moment?
    They first had clever names for them and then did rollover explanations then dropped all the showy bits.

    Also it would be good to note when Tesla went though the huge layoff. That had to affect the tone coming from the employee postings.
     
  6. DAL

    DAL Member

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    For me, there was no "jump the shark" moment, just a slow realization that the "engineering" posts were being replaced with "marketing" and "leadership" (thinly veiled marketing) posts.

    I wonder if it felt the same for the early participants--many of whom had strong feelings about BEV technology or environmental concerns. Looking back recently, these posts are disappearing or gone entirely (save the occasional "yay, Tesla, stick it to OPEC" one-time posters).

    Of course, another blow to the Blog was when ME left the firm. The loss of his presence in replying to Blog posts was immediately apparent. Darryl Siry tried to maintain this, but honestly it felt like he was doing his job moreso than advancing the debate. (In all fairness, he was in no position to be as effective as a CEO or senior manager would be.)

    Finally, perhaps as a result of the layoffs or internal power struggles, the frequency of new threads dropped off (from once a week or every two weeks to once a month or every other month). Its just a theory, but perhaps frequency is a key component of Blog success (with another key being customer control of content--something that the TM Blog never adequately tapped into).
     
  7. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    For me, the moment was when some of my posts were moderated and never actually posted. I wouldn't even say it was controversial stuff. In the early days it was the "halibut filter" and contact information removed, but otherwise I think they let any comments go online. Later things started to be moderated/censored/controlled or whatever you want to call it. Even things that did end up online could take days from posting to when they actually showed up.

    Over time I started running out of things to say anyways.

    I gather the TM blogs were not to everyone's liking.
    DSiry mentioned this article:
    Wired 15.04: The See-Through CEO
    which goes into some pitfalls of the CEO blog.

    I can relate to the comment about a "treadmill you can't get off".

    If you say enough, even if it is 99% good, there is still 1% that may come back to haunt you later.
     
  8. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    #8 vfx, Jun 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
    When the relevance is totally lost out of context.


    Well that's because the blogging stopped being fresh, then stopped.


    If your CEO is too popular...


    Great article. I thoroughly ate it up.

    Article quotes:
    That's Martin.




    Good line!



    This quote:
    Reminds me of Obama not publishing the torture pictures. Tough tough call.



    Explains the current lawsuit.



    Reminds me of KB and why he never comes here though he surely knows of us, it's not about him, it's about his agenda.



    The very act of blogging is building the business. For good or bad, it's the new paradigm. Blogging has been added to the CEO's daily "To Do" list.
     
  9. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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  10. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I doubt some of those stats. I know a few (non F-500) CEOs that have some of those SN pages but do not list their titles in them.
     
  11. Tin-Chicken

    Tin-Chicken Member

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    Good times ...

    Of all the things I miss about being at TM, I miss the blog the most. It was fun back in the days of the clay rat and the clashing doors ...

    Good times.

    Has anyone else noticed that many of the author's pics are no longer there?

    I rarely look at it now.

    Lisa - keeper of the blog until January 2008.
     
  12. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    Yes, they are deleting history.
     
  13. Serge

    Serge Member

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    Remembered a good quote

    "Everything fades into mist. The past is erased, the erasure forgotten. "
     
  14. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    #14 TEG, Jun 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2009
    Tin-chicken,

    Yes, I noticed the pictures disappeared.


    Your moderator's repartee was definitely part of the fun back then.
     
  15. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    AGREED!


    Can the images be salvaged somehow?

    If you have them Lisa maybe we can store them here.
     

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