This morning as I was grabbing my bag to head off to breakfast before my Economic Anthropology class, my phone started buzzing. In a hurry, I decided to ignore the call and start walking towards my class. As I arrived to class and sat down, my phone started buzzing again. Then, confused about what all the fuss was about, I decided to excuse myself to the bathroom. As soon as I exited the class, I checked the screen of my phone and finally was able to discern the identity of my caller. It was my good old family friend Elon Musk. Before picking up the phone, I wondered if the time that I would take to talk to him would count as an excused absence from my class. I hesitated since I did not think the call fell under the category of an emergency of any sort, but then…you only live one, right?
Upon picking up the phone, I heard the voice of Elon on the other side of the line. His voice sounded different, not very much like himself. I remember this because the last time I had talked with him his voice was vibrant with excitement about starting his new Hyperloop project. This morning, however, his voice was low, grave, and discomforting. He started off the conversation with not many pleasantries, not even asking how my family was. Right away, he started off describing how many governments around the world have stopped subsidizing Tesla cars since they reached a point where they questioned why should middle-class taxpayers whose incomes are falling pay to subsidize the purchase of cars that only the affluent can afford, just as a gesture of their superior environmental virtue. With this problem in hand, Elon – knowing my background in Markets, Innovation, and Design – asked me to become his Chief Innovation Officer and to come as soon as possible to his house in Bel Air. He said, I shouldn’t worry about buying tickets, since he had already sent his private jet to pick me up and assured me that it is the most environment friendly jet I have ever flied in. Before he hung up, he reminded me that I am free to bring anybody along for this project.
As Chief Innovation Officer, I decided that Tesla’s priority at this point in time should be to increase their efficiency in production. In order to achieve this, I notified Elon that it is recommendable to increase the effort into building the Gigafactory faster. There are mainly five reasons why I chose to focus on this area. First, cheaper batteries mean cheaper cars and will make Tesla’s EV’s more affordable. Second, it diversifies Tesla’s revenue stream by allowing it to be a main competitor in the energy industry. Third, it spreads the costs of the factory build beyond just Tesla. This can be accomplished by partnering with more companies that could aport a superior LI-battery technology knowledge that would complement Tesla’s EV knowledge. Once partnered all companies would have the factory at their disposal and would be able to profit from it, as long as they pitched into its building. Fourth, building a factory that will be fueled by solar panels is a very strong advertisement for the Tesla brand since it reinforces a reliance on alternative energies. And fifth and most importantly for the business, Tesla gets to remain first in the EV industry by becoming efficient before its competitors -other more traditional car companies – have the chance to delve into the industry.
As I am giving Elon my reasoning, I tell him that I did not come up with this on my own. Rather, the idea was produced by the collaboration of my group: Jensen – who advised me to create more value for the stakeholders while increasing profit-, Aayush, and the Hannah brothers – who pushed me to be green all around.