Hardly any entrepreneur from the “free west” has had such bad press in the last 12 months as Elon Musk, who has become the number 1 e-car provider with the Tesla.
The native South African was accused that Tesla would soon be bankrupt, that the cars were a risk for their drivers, and that the new production facility in Birkenheide in northern Germany would never come off the beaten track.
While the Swiss bought more Tesla than most other Europeans in a per capita comparison, the Swiss and German major media (NZZ, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Süddeutsche Zeitung) expressed considerable doubts about the entrepreneurial skills of the US entrepreneur.
Their business editors, deeply connected to the German automotive industry, refused to believe what was obvious: Elon Musk is going to knock everyone over.
“I am an extraterrestrial”, said the quick thinker and multitasker as a young man who knows no private, public or state rules of the game, be it in the USA or Europe. It is only controlled from its head, which his friends call a protein computer.
He is about to fulfill the wish of Angela Merkel and her old German federal government to have the first “Teslas made in Germany” rolled off the production line by the end of this year.
Right next to it, the world’s largest battery factory is already under construction. Musk knows no boundaries, even if the large facility is located in a nature reserve.
We can learn from this: If you listen to the green, you are already half lost as an entrepreneur. And with it the jobs and the country.
In Germany, Angela Merkel cleared all obstacles away from him, just as she quietly did with the second Russian gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea. She wanted to locate this entrepreneur in Germany. And Musk delivers.
His China offensive is already underway. As an American, he flatters the Chinese government. He is no more interested in topics such as human rights, an understanding of democracy or free media, as is Xi Jinping. There he is compared to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.
That’s the magic of this 50-year-old man today: He is clearing away the old rules of the game that make our “Old Europe” so cumbersome. He is not a “nice guy”, but has been rushing his managers and their employees forward for almost 30 years.
Musk is not even supposed to pay well, but it offers one thing: the dream of a new world, of new experiences, even of extraterrestrial experiences.
Elon Musk didn’t fail, but today he is the richest man in the world with private assets of over 200 billion US dollars. Tesla, where it is just one of many partners, is valued at 775 billion.
Toyota (270 billion), VW (132) and BMW (61) are dwarfs in comparison. Elon Musk shows Europeans what a master is. It also says what management means in the 21st century.
The Chinese have been the fastest and most diligent in the last 40 years with the largest domestic market in the world.
In many cases, the US economy is still world leader in the IT industry, but runs the risk of being pushed further and further away by the Chinese.
Otherwise the US has less and less to offer, with the possible exception of the banks in New York City, which have long been overtaken by the Chinese banks.
The European economy is essentially a tale of tears. Germany is the locomotive, France still has a few strong corporations, the rest is spread out.
Switzerland is actually a special case, as it has a wealth of major global corporations that are also highly competitive. But we also have fewer and fewer real “market changers”.
Maybe Glencore in Baar, which was built by Ivan Glasenberg after Marc Rich. Or Vitol and Trafigura. The three largest companies in Switzerland.
Maybe Roche, Novartis and Clariant, if the button opens there. It is time.
Maybe Nestlé, if CEO Mark Schneider cuts a few slices of the new “Musk Management Style”.
The shame is that one cannot expect any big leaps from Schindler, Georg Fischer or ABB. In these companies, unlike our big banks, everything is so tidy that it gets boring.
The 1,500 company members of the very important Schmalenbach Society, which has controlled the training of business administrators in German-speaking countries for 75 years, want what they have always wanted: innovation and competitiveness.
At least it was realized, albeit with regret, that everything has gotten faster and that the changes are becoming radical.
Alas, Elon is at the gates.
Measured against this new pace, which is already being approached by individual companies in our company, the MBAs at our colleges and universities, be it St. Gallen, Zurich, Bern or Lausanne, can be crushed.
There everything happens in the style of the late 20th century. Many professors work more for themselves than their students. State supervision is miserable.
McKinsey’s teachings are also insufficient to fuel such growth. The “Mackies” optimize, but they do not allow you to dream.
What we lack are mental agility and real “doers”.
While Europe is doing feasibility studies, Musk has long since ventured into space with SpaceX. It looks like the Chinese will be its main competitors.
The US government has just granted him $ 2.9 billion to expand his “Starships” and to fulfill government tasks in space.
What principles guide Musk?
There are no problems. They must be eliminated as soon as possible. Because the California government didn’t want to be like him, Musk has just moved to Texas.
There he pays no or at least lower taxes. Official reason: Tesla employees need apartments that don’t exist in California.
He is resistant to advice and also fires deserving employees if they disagree with him. Your weekly reports cannot contain more than 300 words.
Up to ten percent of the workforce is regularly fired because they don’t bring enough results. He demands complete self-abandonment for the company.
He uses every trick that others don’t dare. He bought Dogecoin and Bitcoin for 1.5 billion dollars, only to sell many of them at a higher price.
The “Economist” calls this “Magical Realism”.
Musk’s basic rule is: “I take more risks than others.” He horrifies Excel spreadsheets.
His central factor: gain time, be faster, learn from mistakes.
His goal: The mining of fossil fuels, the rescue from the climate collapse and my way away from the earth, which is doomed anyway.
With this he put an imperial crown on himself, just like Napoléon I; this before the height of his military career. He has been calling himself “technoking” for six months.
He separated from his second wife, the Canadian singer Grimes, after the birth of their first child. He already has six sons from her predecessor.
The “extraterrestrial” still promises many surprises. Today he is a role model for hundreds of thousands of young people around the world who also expect a lot from life. After 30 successful years, nobody has yet been able to prove to him that his style is wrong.