When you mention the names Elon Musk and Bill Gates they create visions of entrepreneurs who took on the establishment, took on the corporate markets, and eventually dominated their particular fields. This prompted me to ask the question, is Tesla becoming the new Microsoft of the electric vehicle market?
This may seem a little bizarre when you bear in mind the size and the power of Microsoft which dominates operating systems with its Windows software. This is a company which is worth billions upon billions of dollars, has tentacles in every area of the world and is something of a cash cow creating massive wealth for the company and its shareholders. However, is Tesla a young Microsoft chomping at the bit?
Taking on the establishment
Elon Musk is an entrepreneur who began Tesla many years ago, having spotted electric vehicles would eventually become the mass-market vehicles of tomorrow. At a time when the industry was out of favour, seen as something of a niche player, and the oil companies continued to dominate, there seemed little or no space for this new kid on the block. However, despite setbacks and little assistance from the government and barrier after barrier placed in front of the company, look at Tesla today!
Quote from ElectricForum.com: "Will Tesla struggle when Elon Musk leaves?"
This is a company that has created its own electric vehicle drive system, this is a company which continues to challenge the traditional US car dealership networks and this is a company which has given up all rights to protect its patent for the benefit of the sector.
Becoming the industry standard
Like Microsoft in the shape of Windows, Tesla is fast becoming the leader of the electric vehicle market leading many traditional automobile companies forward with joint ventures and R&D agreements. Elon Musk is a multibillionaire on paper although financial rewards do not seem to be top of his agenda with his recent divorce case highlighting a complete lack of cash flow. The decision to refrain from patent protection across Tesla's portfolio of technology was a major step forward for the company and the industry. Why would competitors look to invest billions of dollars in their own technology when a fully-fledged operational and rubberstamped alternative is already available?
Will Tesla become too powerful?
They ignore you, then they acknowledge you, they ridicule you and then they offer financial support before they attempt a breakup and reduction in your power. This is effectively what happened with Bill Gates and Microsoft, which was encouraged to invest in groundbreaking technology only to be hauled before the courts in years to come and forced to break up parts of the operation. We can only hope the same fate does not await Tesla as the company becomes an ever brighter beacon for the electric vehicle industry. We pray that politicians and regulators will give groundbreaking entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk the air which they need to create not only new technologies, but in effect new industries.
So far Tesla Motors has battled with the US government, looked to change the car dealership regulations in the US and deal directly with the wider public. These battles have made enemies for the company and while the power and influence of Tesla is currently greater than that of their political and corporate enemies, the company does need to tread carefully.