Today, Tesla successfully produced 5,000 Model 3s in a single week, which is the magic milestone that, if sustainable, will make Tesla profitable this year.
This is a big deal because two months ago, there were a lot of doomsayers, especially after Elon Musk dismissed some analyst questions on the grounds that they were bonehead.
As I explained at the time (in "Yes, the Analyst Questions Were Bonehead"), most financial analysts--the ones that aren't out-and-out poseurs--are startlingly conventional in their thinking and surprisingly clueless about real innovation.
For example, some members of the analyst community analysts have touted the ludicrous notion that Elon Musk is "the next Elizabeth Holmes." Look, Holmes was a grifter who was passing off someone else's product as her own. For Musk to be like Holmes, all the Teslas on the road would have to turn out to be Fords with Tesla labels stuck on them.
Obviously that's not the case.
In any case, Musk's vindication and victory caps a string of successes that include:
- Tesla's first-in-the-industry software update that simultaneously improved the brake time on all Model 3s in response to a complaint from Consumer Reports.
- Musk's cutting the Gordian knot of corporate restructuring by breaking almost every rule of good management taught in B-School.
- Telsa proving the value of a highly automated assembly line by replicating it in a tiny fraction of the time it would take a traditional car firm to build a new assembly line.
Still, though, the mainstream press--perhaps because they keep listening to those financial analysts--just doesn't get it. The Wall Street Journal, for example, couldn't report Tesla's achievement without spouting conventional wisdom:
"General Motors Co., whose market value is nearly the same as Tesla's, produces about 10 million vehicles annually [while] Tesla made roughly 100,000 last year."
Even if the stock is overpriced, what we're seeing here isn't the birth of another car company. What we're seeing is a fundamental change to almost every element the car industry: how they're made, how they're sold and how they're serviced.
So, yes, sometimes Musk comes off a bit flaky. And, yes, he has some weird (if not uncommon) beliefs about killer robots and space colonies. But he delivers the goods and that's what's important.