QOTD: Should Elon Musk Run The Show At GM?

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
qotd should elon musk run the show at gm

We don’t get enough good questions from the readers, and it’s a damn shame. Reader Steve Hofer sent us a great one via email; what if Elon Musk was running General Motors?

I was thinking about how Steve Jobs came from what was essentially a failed company with NeXT, to raise Apple from the dead. I imagined the possibility that GM would take over Tesla. Thinking of the Apple precedent, I imagined what if Elon Musk pulled a Steve Jobs and leveraged a board seat into effective control of the company. Assuming Elon became GM’s CEO, does he have what it takes to do a good job? Perhaps he does. I have some reasons.

(1) Elon is smarter than anyone at GM.

(2) He understands how to put together a critical path to implement very complex tasks, whether building an electric car or a private space program.

(3) He is not risk adverse.

(4) He is not tied to 19th or 20th century ideas.

(5) More traditional choices failed and will likely fail again.

Personally, I am not willing to take the Thomas Friedman-esque leap of logic that posits that a successful tech entrpeneur should be put in charge of America’s auto industry. Tesla and GM are as different as two car companies could possibly be, and who is to say that there isn’t somebody at GM that has an equally formidable intellect as Musk does. We don’t know for sure one way or another. In any case, there are plenty of commenters who have actually spent time working with (or for) GM who have a much better insight than I do. Have at it.

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7 of 44 comments
  • CelticPete CelticPete on May 02, 2013

    Huh? GMs balance sheet is awesome compared to Teslas. He is smarter then anyone at GM? Seriously? We rate intelligence on the ability to fleece tax payer dollars for dubious automotive ventures?

  • GiddyHitch GiddyHitch on May 02, 2013

    Elon Musk clearly doesn't have the experience nor tools to run a big multinational like GM. The people best equipped to run GM are already at GM. They should promote from within. Then again, this may be the definition of insanity.

  • CelticPete CelticPete on May 02, 2013

    Tesla has been in the red every year. GM makes a modest profit. I don't see the logic behind thinking Musk is a superior CEO. I guess he deserves some credit for keeping the company alive despite the negative balance sheets.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on May 02, 2013

      Tesla is saying that they will have a Q1 profit. I haven't seen the numbers. Also, Musk runs other businesses too. Maybe you've never heard of Zip2, unless you were in the tech industry, but you've probably heard of a little company called Paypal. If you follow what happens in the aeronautics industry, you also may have heard of SpaceX, which has produced a spacecraft that docked with the ISS last year. Whether his success in start-ups means that he could handle a Fortune 500 company with a lot of institutional history and a strong labor union, I don't know. However, he probably understand the kind of investment one needs to make when developing new platforms.

  • NMGOM NMGOM on May 02, 2013

    Absolutely not. He is too valuable to be distracted by something as messy and trivial as GM. We need Musk to finish conquering space commercially, and than start working on the Martian colony. --------------------

    • Shaker Shaker on May 03, 2013

      ...and a $30,000 Tesla EV :-) Edit: The Martian colony might come first... :-(