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Tesla is laying off ‘about 9%’ of its workforce as it ‘restructures’ the company (electrek.co)
311 points by whatok 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 373 comments



I am waiting for my scheduled HR meeting along with several hundred other co workers in a few minutes. I am an outside, in-home residential solar salesperson hired by Tesla long after the Solar City aquisition. I have relied on the leads generated by the Home Depot employees. I am salaried and most likely going to get my walking papers today. It is apparent they don't see value in the proactive approach process to sales.


Sorry to hear that, man. You going to be alright?


Let us know what happened


> It means that Tesla could let go over 3,000 employees in this round of layoffs.

> The CEO also confirmed that Tesla didn’t renew its contract with Home Depot to sell its energy products at their stores.

Tesla energy advisors were supposed to be at 800 Home Depots across the US earlier this year.

If they had 3.5 employees per store, and a team of 200 managing the entire effort, these layoffs could be attributed entirely to the lost Home Depot deal.


If that was the case they definitely would have noted it. Musk said "In addition to this company-wide restructuring, we've decided not to renew". He then went on to say the majority will be given the opportunity to move to other Tesla retail locations.

It reads more like the cuts don't include the Home Depot related staff (who surely work hourly + comission anyway, these are cuts to salaries positions).


As a Tesla investor, I'm very curious what the conversion rate is of Home Depot/Big Box customers vs Tesla stores. My guess would be it's much higher in Tesla stores. No one likes being bothered at Home Depot by sales staff when they've just popped in for a part.


There's few things that turn me off faster from a store than roving third-party salespeople soliciting like that.


Agreed. An unmanned sales booth would be totally fine, but being accosted by a sales representative when I go into Home Depot to pick up some supplies for a weekend project is extremely off-putting. To the point where I might go out of my way to avoid that company when I am in the market to buy.


The worst is when they ask if you need help finding anything and you think they’re an employee and then they hit you with a sales pitch.

Dude I’m just trying to find the mold spray and get out.


Their salespeople were super-aggressive in every setting I've seen them. I remember my girlfriend got hounded by one of their sales people and we had to avoid that part of the store.


The powerwall is next to the AC/insulation guy that seems like he is there about 50% of the time. He hooks people with "free home efficiency audits". I've seen a tesla rep there with lower frequency, but I'm having a hard time understanding how many they actually sell, because frankly where I live the only use case is going to be people with large enough solar installations to go off grid, as the power company doesn't do any kind of time based rate tiering (the tiering is entirely usage based, and the power company includes how much solar you consume in the equation).


> and the power company includes how much solar you consume in the equation

This is very striking to me. Does the power company get actual readings on your solar energy consumption, or is the tiering based on estimated solar usage?


I think they are metering the solar as well...

https://austinenergy.com/wcm/connect/9c2d0f25-b56e-410a-93ee...


iirc Austin is one of the few places in the US that has a full feed-in tariff, that is they buy back all your solar through a dedicated meter at feed-in prices (usually closer to wholesale vs. the retail prices you purchase at) and apply that as a credit.


I’m from the home town of Home Depot and never seen the AC guy or Tesla guy. The only place I’ve seen what you describe is in Costco?

Where are these people positioned in Home Depot to make it effective? Costco’s one entrance and one exit make it ideal for this kind of badgering.


In my experience they have a table at the end of one of the aisles but then roam around bugging people.


Maybe this would go too far into the "uncanny valley", but why not have teleconferencing sales people? Eg have a terminal near the solar products where you can hit a button and immediately be connected to a remote sales rep. This way you can cut down the sales reps to, say 0.2 per store. And you never talk to one unless you want to either.


I have trouble imagining that people would use such a service.

I think the point of intrusive, unsolicited salesmanship is to convince people to look into products that they would otherwise ignore. People go to home depot to buy hardware, not to meet with salespeople.


I'm not sure if this already took place, but didn't Musk say they were going to layoff loads of inefficient contractors a month or two back? Could that be the "restructuring" that is being referred to?


If the layoffs were related to the Home Depot contract, they would’ve been described in that context. “Because Tesla is not renewing its contract with Home Depot, as many as 3,000 employees are being laid off.” Since it wasn’t phrased that way, it’s safe to assume they’re more general layoffs.


I don't see why you'd need more than 2 full-time equivalent Tesla salesperson per Home Depot store.

Also, those employees weren't hired yet, the "advisors" were a planned/prototype project.


I wasn't even aware they HAD a contract.

My local Home Depot has zero mention of any product Tesla makes.


I was approached by a Tesla contractor in Home Depot on a few days ago. It was honestly not a good experience.

For one, I was approached cold. I too had no idea that they had this agreement, so I was looking at something when someone came up and asked me something like "what type of project are you working on?" So I naturally just described what I was doing and before realizing this was not a HD employee.

He asks me if I thought about solar and whatever, but it wasn't relevant to my situation (roof slope orients E/W at the 45th latitude, so not great for solar). He goes on his way.

It was just a weird experience. I wasn't in a department related to electricity or solar, and they had no displays indicating a partnership with Tesla or that you may be cold-approached by a Tesla employee.


I still can't believe retail establishments think it's a good idea to degrade the customer experience by letting third-party salespeople rove their stores. I know Home Depot et al are making money from it, but I can't imagine there are many customers coming away with positive feelings from these come-ons.


Even first-party roving salespeople can be a big turn-off.

I've found that my local Walmart is often cheaper than Amazon, but I've been shopping at Amazon more frequently ever since I was repeatedly ambushed by people trying to get me to sign up for a Walmart Mastercard while I was wandering around the store shopping.


Is this a regional thing? I've never seen any 3rd-party sales staff in a Home Depot here in Chicago, or anything like this in any other big box store I frequent.


I’ve seen it here in Ohio. Sams Club and also Menards. Usually some guy at a aisle or back of the store trying to sell satellite tv. It is annoying...

Just shopping for whatever you needed and some random guy asks what you have for television.

Also seen a woman trying to sell perfume and wanted to spray some on people at another store, kinda pushy near where the cash registers are. Aren’t some people allergic to that stuff? I think it would be better to have samples next to the actual perfume for when someone is actually shopping for that.


>Just shopping for whatever you needed and some random guy asks what you have for television.

I've had that in Costco, trying to sell me cable TV service. Then they act completely flabbergasted when I say I don't watch TV and don't care about cable.


Haha, I had the same response from a door-to-door cable pusher.


Perhaps it's a sun thing?


It seems to be a largely Home Depot thing, they seem to regularly have someone trying to sell me satellite television service in the stores here in Indy while Lowes has never had any such thing that I've seen.


Costco has been doing this with Direct TV recently. Its a very bad experience imo.

You walk in the door and sometimes there's someone saying: "I can save you money on your TV service"


Comcast does this in Walmart. The people Comcast hires are ultra-aggressive, obnoxious, crude individuals that actually follow you while shopping asking what you spend on service, what service you have, etc.

I flat out no longer shop in my local Walmart for this reason alone. Otherwise, I don't mind Walmart.


Huh, my Dad was complaining about random salespeople at Home Depot to explain his driving out to OSH. I had assumed another customer just pissed him off.


Yeah, I had this experience a couple of years ago with someone trying to sell kitchen cabinet re-facing.


I had a similar experience, although in my case the Tesla guy could at least tell me where the screws I was looking for were.


The contract was for 800 Home Depot locations out of ~2,000 total locations. Our location has People watching the entrance of the store as well as combing the aisles to pitch customers.

Valuable products don't need a hard sell.


> combing the aisles to pitch customers

That's really obnoxious. What an awesome way to drive me to other retailers.


Valuable products may need people to convince others that they're valuable. That is, in effect, the sell.


>Valuable products don't need a hard sell

Is your claim that Tesla products are doing such good business at Home Depot that they no longer need salespeople?

Is anything ever bad news for this company? They are bleeding red ink, haven't ever made production goals, claim to be growing exponentially, and yet are laying off employees because business is so good?

I'm with the poster down thread: the Fandom is hard to comprehend.


I think that you misread your parent, who was, to my reading, saying that the fact that powerwalls apparently needed a hard sell was proof that they were not good products.


But, but . . . Elon Musk! Sports Cars and Electricity and Space and stuff! What's there not to like?!!


Mine has a powerwall disaply. I remembering seeing it and thinking "I bet this is not effective". Guess I was right!


Mine (not even in a very large city) has a Powerwall display right inside the front door.


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ressentiment

I'd bet Musk saying it was Tesla's decision not to renew the deal is a classic PR corporate power myth.


I can guarantee that they didn't have 3.5 per store and an extra 200.


Musk tweeted out the layoff email he sent:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1006597562156003328


Wow, that fake crypto scheme tweet under his official tweet had me fooled for a second.


The fact that Twitter cannot put a single person up to delete a few dozen scam tweets every time a off celebrity tweets and ban a few accounts speaks volumes about how much they don't care about their users.


Fully agree and that's something I really don't get. Why don't they pay a small team of 5-10 people that monitors the top 200 accounts, and check if replies like that happen.

Hacky solution, but it would just work.


(And FYI, Elon is #87 for followers https://friendorfollow.com/twitter/most-followers/)


Scroll too far down that chain and porn comes up too.


I wonder if some of this is finalizing the digestion of solar city.

How many accountants, tech, and office workers did the combine company have that were redundant? Have there been layoffs from the merger (if there were I missed them) - I'm curious to see if this is the end result of that combination.


There were some pretty massive layoffs with the merger already, leading into it, at least according to someone I know who was part of those lay offs.


And according to this article:

> After the acquisition of SolarCity, Tesla had another round of layoffs to restructure and remove duplicate positions from the acquisition, which resulted in about 20% of SolarCity’s workforce being let go.


Other than the article I can't find anything that points to redundancy being the cause:

https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/25/16545956/tesla-solarcity...

Is the only other reference that I have found and articles around this time frame don't make it clear the redundancy was the cause.


The classic solar sales and installation company business model isn't shaping up very well. Operating margins aren't the best due to the need for local assets in frequently changing markets as incentives come and go. It's definitely more profitable to sell batteries/panels/etc to the solar installers than to run the operation itself.


"Given that Tesla has never made an annual profit in the almost 15 years since we have existed, profit is obviously not what motivates us."


Quotes taken out of context are really powerful, aren't they?


Claims no production staff were affected. Don't know the employee breakdown but imagine production is a huge portion of it. Hard to believe entire other divisions weren't completely eliminated if production not touched.


Given they admitted to over-relying on automation, I doubt they'd be cutting production staff now. It's not difficult to find 9% of the workforce in other departments: sales, marketing, operations, engineering, etc.


I think most companies would have a hard time finding 3,500 people to fire and not have it effect anything. Especially ones that describe themselves as a "growth company".


Most companies would have a hard time finding that many people to fire because they weren't that big. Most companies would have no problem finding 1 in 10 to fire in a downsizing.


Also given they're having trouble with that manufacturing output, I can't imagine firing those people would help things out. AFAIK there's no such thing has the "reverse mythical man month" - removing people from a late running project speeds it up.


There's definitely cases where removing a person from a project speeds it up. Just to name a few:

* the person removed is a distraction to the team in some way, possibly outside of their control

* the team is over the two-pizza limit, and coordination costs are out of control

* roles between individuals aren't clear, and removing one of them makes it obvious, removing a source of confusion

[edit: added some examples]


> the two-pizza limit

OT, but can someone please explain this to me?

From what I understand this is a team size that you can still feed with two pizzas. But how is this different from just saying "the two-person limit"?

When I'm with friends, we order one pizza per person. On occasion, when I haven't eaten a lot during the day, I've ordered two pizzas just for myself. And I'm a regular sized Dutch guy, so not one of those stereotypical Americans that can win eating contests.


In America a person can eat two pieces of pizza and maybe a side salad plus a drink and that's plenty. Pizzas have eight slices in their "default" configuration, so one pizza feeds 4 developers.

Note: I hate 90% of pizza.


Perhaps you have smaller pizzas than in America? Most people I know could not eat a whole pizza here in America. The two pizza limit is supposed to be more like eight people.


could be sales and marketing


Considering demand for product is outstripping their ability to produce product, their sales & marketing teams are setting a high standard of work the rest of the company has yet to meet.

Feels a little unfair if they were the ones getting axed.


Or maybe they aren't needed at all? Most people I know that want a Tesla have wanted one forever and weren't really coerced into it by sales and marketing.


Ah, but marketing isn’t simply coercion or persuasion. For instance, if you’re gathering requirements from customers before, during and after the development of a product you’re doing marketing whether you realise it or not.


All other things being equal, the more compelling the product, the less you need to market it to achieve a given level of interest. Tesla cars are SUPER compelling on a lot of levels. I would be surprised to hear that they need the same level of marketing effort as weaker entrants from other car companies.


The best marketing is the one you don’t realise.


They may not have had a sales guy come knocking on their front door, but if you think they weren’t marketed to, then Tesla did an excellent job of marketing.


Sounds like the same problem you find everywher regarding engineering, programming, IT, and sales competence: if your products seem simple and bulletproof, your servers seem to never go down, your program just works intuitively, and people want your product even before they walk into the store, that does not mean you can downsize those departments. It means you should give them a raise because they're doing a great job!


I thought Tesla had no marketing dept?


Where do people get this from? Their filings clearly state they spend millions a quarter on marketing.


Probably from half-remembered Tesla marketing spiel, at a guess.


Musk has said no advertising. They do have marketing staff.

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/four-ps.asp


I'm not sure where you heard that: https://g.co/kgs/3va2C3


They don't have an advertising dept. They have a small marketing team.


Head over to LinkedIN and search 'tesla recruiter'. I stopped counting current employees at 100. Whey the hell does a company need 100 or more recruiters...


They should also sack the execs who made the shitty decision to hire these guys, being approached by salesmen ruins any shopping experience IMHO and the whole debacle has probably lowered Tesla's image even more in the eyes of most people.


That exec was probably the SolarCity CEO at the time, who is Elon Musk's cousin, so that might be a little awkward.


That Home Depot/Powerwall partnership was just announced in February 2018:

https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/2/16964154/tesla-home-depot-...

Were home installations ever projected to be a growable part of the company?


At the start, industrial installations of Power Pack were expected to be 80% of the battery business, but an alarming number of people outside of Tesla appeared convinced that retail Power Wall would be the thing. Guess what?


Just reading the first few comments.... I really don't get the Tesla hate. Is it hacker-ish contrarianism? Have they done something? What's the deal HN, why are we cheering against the home team?

Overall Musk has been pretty straightforward and explicit with what he's doing.

Tesla (and spacex) set extremely ambitious goals, like none of their competitors do. They take big risks. They're not interested in reducing risk. They're interested in a business plan that leads to a mass migration of icbs to electric (or humans to mars). The nature of ambitious goals is that sometimes you don't hit your marks. The nature of risk taking is that you might fail, and have to do fast paced adjustments to recover.

Riskiness also means (literally) that Tesla comes with some chance of total failure. If they lose two or three big bets in a row, it could be game over. There are no cash cows or guaranteed income streams. Tesla is not Toyota or Microsoft. If you own Tesla, you need to be ok with that risk. Don't like it? Perfectly reasonable. Sell.

Personally (not an investor or customer), I think these companies are awesome. If GM disappeared tomorrow, nothing that I care about changes. If Tesla disappears, this could set back electric cars by 5yrs. If McDonald Douglass rocketry disappears, someone else will launch rockets for the US military. SpaceX... that hurts our chances of landing people on the other worlds anytime soon.

None of this risk profile stuff would even be controversial if Tesla was a fund. A fund manager can be as risky as she likes, provided that's the stated investment goal. Why doesn't Elon get this amount of rope? .. at least on hacker news?

Seriously, what has he done to deserve this negativity?


Personally I don't disagree with the notion of taking huge risks and going all out. Tesla and SpaceX have made the world a better place in my view, and they've definitely made the world more interesting.

That said, the overhyping, recklessness and hubris at this stage on the Tesla front seems like instead of helping achieve the wildly ambitious goal, they're making it more likely to fail. If Tesla was slightly more reasonable, and extended their timelines out a bit, it's entirely likely they'd be selling more, better cars.

At some point the company needs to mature a bit and become a little more structured, especially when you're dealing with devices that can literally kill people. I don't think at this stage they'd be less likely to hit their marks if they just got a little more down to earth, on the contrary I think it would help them.

And like it or not, a fund manager can be risky because they're making dozens of bets. Musk has 2, and both are in areas that can directly harm people if things go sideways, it's not the same thing.


>That said, the overhyping, recklessness and hubris at this stage on the Tesla front seems like instead of helping achieve the wildly ambitious goal, they're making it more likely to fail. If Tesla was slightly more reasonable, and extended their timelines out a bit, it's entirely likely they'd be selling more, better cars.

I think Musk and Tesla are in the middle of a real life trolley problem. It is certainly true that people have died as a result of Autopilot. It is also certainly true that lives have been saved by Autopilot. There is no statistics to tell which group is larger, but Musk and Tesla obviously think the second group is larger. If that is true, everything that further delays progress is something that is causing people to die on net. They are instead flipping that switch and possibly killing people, but overall they are saving lives. Thousands of philosophers would have a better take on the ethics of that decision than I would, but that is clearly where the motivation for Musk's aggressiveness is coming from.


>. It is also certainly true that lives have been saved by Autopilot. There is no statistics to tell which group is larger, but Musk and Tesla obviously think the second group is larger.

The Tesla deaths per mile statistics are not that much better than overall US statistics and that involves all sorts of weather and road conditions that Autopilot does not. In addition, the death statistics also include older and or cheaper cars that do not have the recent safety features. A much better comparison is with vehicles costing the same as Teslas and comparing their crash statistics.


How about comparing Teslas before Autopilot to Teslas after Autopilot?

> ODI analyzed mileage and airbag deployment data supplied by Tesla for all MY 2014 through 2016 Model S and 2016 Model X vehicles equipped with the Autopilot Technology Package... The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation.

https://www.scribd.com/document/337008436/NHTSA-Full-Report-...


Those stats aren't for autosteer (which is the point of contention) alone, and include AEB which no doubt saves lives.

This brings me to a crucial point. Nobody doubts that assistive technology save lives. Not just automatic emergency braking, but even lane keeping assists. What Tesla does is however take lane keeping assist and give it more responsibility of actively driving the car. It's not clear if that is safe. Even if it's safe, it's not clear if it's safer. You shouldn't be comparing autosteer to just a human, but a human with lane keeping assist. The difference is between the human driving actively, and the car driving itself actively.


> Those stats aren't for autosteer (which is the point of contention) alone, and include AEB which no doubt saves lives.

What are you basing this on? AEB was available before Autosteer, and it says in the report that the 40% improvement was after Autosteer installation.

> What Tesla does is however take lane keeping assist and give it more responsibility of actively driving the car.

Autosteer specifically is new, but the precedent for "active control" isn't. TACC takes just as active a role in driving a car as Autosteer, and most people feel it is net helpful (regardless of manufacturer, but especially in Tesla's case because it can see things via radar that a human cannot, e.g. a second car ahead slamming on the brakes). Heck, a lot of people think even standard cruise control is net helpful! It's not clear to me why longitudinal control is okay to do actively but latitudinal control isn't; both require attention and vigilance. My belief is that people are more skeptical of active latitudinal control because it is so new. It's understandable, but it's not an intellectually satisfying reason to hold back the technology.


From here https://www.wired.com/story/tesla-autopilot-safety-statistic...

Read the whole article

> Tesla’s oft-touted figure is flawed for another reason, experts say: With this data set, you can’t separate the role of Autopilot from that of automatic emergency braking, which Tesla began releasing just a few months before Autopilot.

I hold the same view for TACC. And cruise control doesn't require reducing attention. That is the prime difference, active (longitudinal or latitudinal) control that encourages users to reduce attention but still relies on them, and leaves then liable is dangerous.


Hey, thanks for that citation. That was really helpful for me to understand this critique of the data. My reading is that the 40% figure still represents the switch to Autosteer, but because the first cohort contains both AEB and non-AEB data, we don't know how much of that 40% improvement to allocate to Autosteer vs how much to allocate to AEB. Makes sense.

It's too bad that NHTSA didn't present the AEB-only cohort in the report (i.e. pre-AEB vs AEB vs AEB + Autosteer instead of just pre-Autosteer vs Autosteer).

I respectfully disagree about TACC and Autosteer (or put another way: my experience with them leads me to the opposite hypothesis, and thus my burden of proof is flipped from yours). Hopefully between Elon's promised quarterly reports, NHTSA's current and future investigations, and Tesla putting more cars on the road, we'll get better data on this moving forward than we've gotten to date.


Thanks, this discussion is going well. I want to add that it wasn't nhtsa, it was Tesla's data which nhtsa cited without any fact checking. But since Tesla has been parroting nhtsa's citation, they have since then withdrawn their support for Tesla's data. You would have read that in the article. Further we need to compare not only pre-aeb vs aeb vs aeb+autosteer, but also aeb+lane_keeping_assist, which we unfortunately won't have.

So, let me reiterate -- we agree that autosteer is lane keeping assist given more responsibility. If that's helpful to the driver or dangerous as it distracts him is a debate were should have with better data, which we don't have. Unfortunately, I personally don't trust Tesla giving data without any hidden unsaid caveats, given their behavior till date.

However, there is another topic we should talk about. Do you think improving autosteer lane detection with vision will make a car driverless capable? Because that's precisely Tesla markets their technology as, with coast to coast drive, or cross country summon, or driverless taxis. I personally don't believe a line following robot is enough for self driving. Infact, I like Google's approach more, where they drive only when the road is free of any object (3d mapped by lidar).

Even then, I don't think that's enough either. For example, say a ball bounces on front of you. I stop expecting a child or a dog running after it. I think driving means interacting with the environment, and responding appropriately to it, and would require a general AI.


> Thanks, this discussion is going well. I want to add that it wasn't nhtsa, it was Tesla's data which nhtsa cited without any fact checking. But since Tesla has been parroting nhtsa's citation, they have since then withdrawn their support for Tesla's data.

Yeah, I had read that previously. I understand NHTSA not wanting to be seen as a primary source of data that it did not collect, but I don't think Tesla handing over that data changes anything material here. I don't see how the source of the raw data is relevant to the report, barring a case of fraud or massive incompetence among those interpreting it.

> So, let me reiterate -- we agree that autosteer is lane keeping assist given more responsibility. If that's helpful to the driver or dangerous as it distracts him is a debate were should have with better data, which we don't have. Unfortunately, I personally don't trust Tesla giving data without any hidden unsaid caveats, given their behavior till date.

I hear you. I would distinguish though between Tesla citing data and crafting a story around it (e.g. what they did with the 1:340M miles figure), vs Tesla providing raw data upon request to a regulatory body like NHTSA or an advisory body like NTSB, and then having those bodies draw their own conclusions. So long as Tesla isn't committing fraud and the investigative methods are statistically sound, the source of the data shouldn't matter. I like this model because, by enabling Tesla to be the data source in a way that is trustworthy, we can get access to much more of it (and much more quickly) than if we had to know all possible queries in advance and force it to go through a third party. For all the recent riffraff between Tesla and NHTSA involving the recent accident, both parties have a long track record of saying they work well together.

> However, there is another topic we should talk about. Do you think improving autosteer lane detection with vision will make a car driverless capable? Because that's precisely Tesla markets their technology as, with coast to coast drive, or cross country summon, or driverless taxis. I personally don't believe a line following robot is enough for self driving. Infact, I like Google's approach more, where they drive only when the road is free of any object (3d mapped by lidar).

I agree that Tesla's neural network needs to do much more than line following, but I don't couple that with a LIDAR approach.

One reason I am so bullish on Tesla is that I think the conventional wisdom about self driving is grounded more in marketing and fundraising than in engineering. The great thing about LIDAR is that you can build a prototype-level self-driving car and put it on a real road relatively quickly. The problem with LIDAR is that its utility breaks down much faster than that of vision. If you want to drive in conditions where humans drive today -- heavy fog or rain, sleet, snow -- you can't rely on LIDAR; you have to do that with cameras and radar. Once you've achieved a system that can do that, LIDAR becomes largely redundant; in good conditions it's telling you what you already know, and in bad conditions it's telling you less than that. So I am a big fan of Tesla's philosophy here (and of Comma.ai's for the exact same reason). This isn't just projection, btw -- Nvidia has a neural network that's been outperforming humans at camera-based object detection in bad weather for over two years now. I'm not aware of anybody achieving that with LIDAR.

> Even then, I don't think that's enough either. For example, say a ball bounces on front of you. I stop expecting a child or a dog running after it. I think driving means interacting with the environment, and responding appropriately to it, and would require a general AI.

I think you're right that with self-driving cars, we will see new classes of accidents that we don't experience with human drivers. However, because humans are such terrible drivers in everyday situations, it is likely a huge net improvement to improve the general cases and have more failures around the edges. This is why examples like the beach ball, or even the Trolley Problem, don't move me. Those situations are exceedingly rare, and optimizing for them will only get us to a local maximum in the mission to save lives. The global maximum is to mitigate the consequences of e.g. texting and driving, or falling asleep at the wheel.


I largely agree with you, but disagree with the last part. The comparison shouldn't be just humans, but humans aided by the exact technology working as an assist.

So, I don't expect the huge improvement when going from lane keeping assist to autosteer.



Because that data isn't limited to just Autosteer but also includes Autobreaking and the other safety features which are more likely to have played a role in the accident reduction. There's no evidence that Autosteer has saved any lives, but there is evidence that it's taken at least 4.


> Because that data isn't limited to just Autosteer but also includes Autobreaking and the other safety features which are more likely to have played a role in the accident reduction.

See my response to your sibling comment. AEB was available earlier than Autosteer, and it says in multiple places (both in the summary and in the graph) that the 40% figure is since the release of Autosteer. If I am misunderstanding or misreading the report, please tell me.

> There's no evidence that Autosteer has saved any lives, but there is evidence that it's taken at least 4.

That's not an accurate summary of the evidence. There are reports all over reddit, TMC, Twitter, Electrek, etc. of Autopilot preventing accidents. There are accounts of Autosteer in particular swerving when a truck drifts toward a car. If we're going to consider one-off anecdotes that go badly, we have to consider the ones that go well, too. And there's a lot of confirmation bias to fight to do that, because "Car Doesn't Crash And Erupt Into Flames" is not a headline you will ever read.


Would you say that scientists should jump immediately to human trials on life-saving drugs since it will speed up progress and save lives, and that any deaths incurred along the way are worth it?


Tesla has zero impact on the world right now. And probably never will.


Isn't that self-evidently false? On at least a superficial level it's a constant part of the conversation. It has in many ways precipitated the debate around self-driving cars by putting the technology in the open (for better and worse and also it's not-quite-there but still!). There's a really strong argument to be made that Tesla has accelerated the development of electric cars at more mainstream manufacturers and pushed large-battery technology substantially forward.

Even if Tesla vanished tomorrow, it would be very hard to say it has had no impact.


Interestingly, I see this from the exact opposite view. I'm surprised it's taken this long for the rubber to meet the road. Tesla sells the most electric vehicles, but it's hardly the sort of delta you describe ("extremely ambitious goals, like none of their competitors do"). Nissan and Tesla both hit the 300,000 car mark in January/February of 2018. And let's not forget the recent NTSB report, which revealed that "Autopilot" is just a better-marketed version of the lane-keeping everyone else is doing.

As to SpaceX--it's an extremely interesting attempt to tread a well-worn path. Commercial exploitation of space travel is a really neat concept. But again your comparison is completely unmoored from reality. SpaceX disappearing will "hurt our changes of landing people on other worlds anytime soon?" Who exactly do you think got us into space, then to the moon? Who is responsible for almost all the progress in space exploration to date, including developing the RP-1 based rocket designs that SpaceX is refining half a century later? It was U.S. defense contractors! It's worth keeping in mind that the Saturn V developed by Boeing/NAA/Douglas in the 1960s could hurl three times as much weight to the moon as the Falcon Heavy. To date, the only proven model for treading new ground in space is large defense contractors spending gobs of State money.

The real question is: why does Tesla/SpaceX generate so much sophomoric positivity?


the Saturn V developed by Boeing/NAA/Douglas in the 1960s could hurl three times as much weight to the moon as the Falcon Heavy

True. At more than an order of magnitude higher cost.


Achieving an order of magnitude cost reduction for proven technology is impressive, even given the intervening half century of progress. But similar achievements are routinely made in other industries. It doesn’t justify the breathless fanboyism Space X engenders.


But similar achievements are routinely made in other industries.

You're applying generalizations to specifics. It is true that other industries have seen order-of-magnitude cost reductions. The companies that bring those innovations are frequently (and correctly) celebrated (see Henry Ford, et al.). SpaceX is that company in this industry, which has otherwise been stagnant for generations. Add to this the fact that space exploration has been aspirational and charismatic as a industry, and you have your justification.


Maybe because people think space is cool and there's been close to zero progress for decades before they came along? Or maybe because the goal is something more than just making money, something that clearly set them apart from the other entities in the field, at least when they started.


>Or maybe because the goal is something more than just making money

Maybe they view their payoff date in a longer term fashion, maybe the way they will make their money is 'cool' but Space X isn't more charitable than any other company.


Unless you have unique insight into Elon's mind, I don't see how you have any idea about that.


I think you've got a lot of things wrong about Tesla. The legacy multi billion dollar use companies in the ULA have been using many russian rocket engines and have not really innovated much, other than having a good success rate. Tesla has been lucky to survive, there are many failed new car companies, and only because they have such an awesome product have they been able to attack the entire industry, sales, production, gas stations. They have tons of problems to deal with, like any big company, but their product is excellent. The thing I can't understand is the semi-religious fervor about people shorting them.


I don't understand it, but it is enjoyable to watch.


Actually, defense contractors haven't designed any new rockets and found themselves dependent on a Russian design (which were arguably better).

They contractually had the option to build their own derivative but punted and then found themselves with a Senate banning future imports. Now they want $5B to design a new rocket, or maybe use Bezos' design.

The SLS is nothing more than a patched up space shuttle launch system with a capsule on top. Except that it will cost a lot more to launch. Not much new ground there.


"To date, the only proven model for treading new ground in space is large defense contractors spending gobs of State money."

This is exactly the problem Space X is meant to solve.

Costs need to come down radically, and State money is too fickle to be relied on for reaching long term goals.


But is it the problem Space X is solving? It's easy to make costs come down when you're just refining 50+ year old technology that you know will work. That's a whole different ballgame from what it'll take to push new boundaries.


Isn't that the entire point of reusable rockets? Who invented that 50+ years ago?


I guess we see things differently.

Contractors are not some naturally occurring mineral, a side effect of some budget. They are companies, people. At present, they are companies comfortably using their existing operations to keep doing what they've been doing since the 70s. I think that it matters who that company is, what their future strategy is. It matters that they care about reusability, creating technology that scales to larger missions... basically, people matter.

In any case, I don't think you can compare Nissan to Tesla. You can always reduce things to parity along some metric, but in this case I just don't think 2018 sales volume is most of the story.

Thanks for the answer though.


So what matters is the wishful thinking, not the pioneering work SpaceX’s competitors actually accomplished? What matters is that Tesla plans to bring EVs to every household in the future, not that it’s shipped about the same number of EVs as Nissan to date?

Look at your own post for why Tesla/SpaceX engender negativity. GM revolutionized the landscape of America. Douglas Aerospace helped design the most powerful rocket ever. And you denigrate those companies and their actual achievements by pointing to the things Musk says he’s going to do. And that’s exactly how Musk has positioned himself. So is it any surprise when people react negatively to him when information is revealed that suggests a gap between promises and reality?


I think I might have overstated things, or not given credit where due. The contractors played a big role. They have not, however, been pushing things forward. Space exploration was stagnant, imo. I also consider NASA and the Soviet program to be the primary "mover," though of course that could be argued.

On cars, no that's not what I thunk. I don't think this divides into 2018 sales volume and bullshitting hype. There is also impact on the industry, consumer perception and the active effect on the price performance of batteries. There's important proofs (to the public) of concept, that electric cars can stand on their own in every respect.

Nissan... they fulfilled a demand for low spec cars with short ranges, a relatively nonscalable source of demand too. I don't think that Nissan's sales are as relevant as Tesla's in the overall scheme of changing most cars from ice's to electric. That's not to hate on nissan. I have a nissan.

I think we understand eachother, but disagree. You think of Tesla and spacex as similar to their competition, but with lots of underserved hype. I see them as different, mostly because of risk tolerance.

I guess this is also a matter of worldview. I think we have a serious problem of too little risk & failure, and the ability (of very large companies) to avoid risk almost entirely.

SpaceX set a goal of reusable rocket or bust, fairly literally and explicitly. I don't think other contractors would have. I don't think we get to mars unless someone does.

If mars is just hype and bullshit to you, then meaningfully reduced cost per orbital kg.. I dunno thoug. I *do" believe the claim that he's after a mars service. Why else risk the house?


> So what matters is the wishful thinking, not the pioneering work SpaceX’s competitors actually accomplished?

Another way to look at it is that what matters is the pioneering work that SpaceX has actually accomplished (and stands to accomplish) that none of their competitors has (primarily, drastically lowering the cost of reaching space while achieving high and increasing launch rates).

> What matters is that Tesla plans to bring EVs to every household in the future, not that it’s shipped about the same number of EVs as Nissan to date?

Without any intended sarcasm, I would answer this question with 'yes'.


So...you're comparing reducing the costs of getting into space with the achievement of developing the technology that actually made it possible to get into space?

The latter is a revolution. The former is just an incremental evolution. Laudable, but nowhere close to the same level of accomplishment.


> So...you're comparing reducing the costs of getting into space with the achievement of developing the technology that actually made it possible to get into space?

Not at all. I am just pointing out that the popularity of SpaceX stems from much more than just ‘wishful thinking’. In a short time and against all odds, they’ve established themselves as the leading space launch provider, and they have a realistic chance to vastly increase that lead in the years to come. Speaking of pioneering technology, they are the first and so far only entity to launch, land, and reuse production orbital rockets on a regular basis. This may well prove to be a revolution, especially considering how many experts said it was impossible.

Handwaving their accomplishments away because too many people cheer them too loudly strikes me as unfair and disingenuous.


Not a problem, though, give it another 5-10 years and it will be extremely clear what SpaceX has achieved.

For example, here's the CNES (French space agency) Director of Launchers discussing SpaceX's achievements, and his desire to design Ariane NEXT to be similar to Falcon 9:

https://satelliteobservation.net/2018/06/02/cnes-director-of...

> For Falcon 9 for instance, they use a toss-back trajectory. An engine is relit while going against the aerodynamic flow, which is actually quite complicated to achieve. We worked on that with ONERA, the French national aerospace lab, and realized it’s pretty complicated.

and, right after talking about how SpaceX's design stages lower, has a common engine between stages, and allows experimentation in landings:

> Prometheus can be used in a new architecture which we call Ariane Next. It will have 7 such engines on the first stage and 1 on the second stage, and can be used in expendable or reusable mode, allowing to experiment reuse easily. The objective is to learn by testing, which is not a European speciality.

There's no greater endorsement than by a competitor.


Sounds like that argument could just as easily apply to Henry Ford and whoever that guy is who actually invented the car.


why does Tesla/SpaceX generate so much sophomoric positivity?

Watching those boosters land literally gave me goosebumps. I just thought, holy shit, this guy is the real deal.


Sure, it was cool to see, but it was inevitable that someone would do it. Once Dean Kamen demonstrated self-balancing wheelchairs and Segways, anyone paying attention could foresee subsequent applications such as self-landing boosters.

There are a lot of smart people in the world who, with the same backing that Musk received, could lead a company to achieve those goals. Without spreading themselves so thin that they make mistakes affecting thousands of people. Our tendency to elevate and idolize people who are aggressive and self-promoting leaves little room for those blessed by the absence of those traits.

It's ridiculous that on a day when thousands face unemployment that there are excited stories about flamethrowers being shipped.


Recovering a booster for reuse, something the Space Shuttle program did literally hundreds of times? That gave you shivers? Really?


Shuttle booster 'reuse' was a misnomer: they were pretty much completely rebuilt each time, and cost more to rebuild than build from scratch. See: https://www.quora.com/Space-Shuttle-How-much-money-was-saved...


Watch the video of them landing themselves - it was truly unprecedented


Pioneered by the MDC DC-X in the 1990s, with considerably less computing power available.

Space-X have done great work in making landed-recovery practical and reliable but they're again building on top of work originally done by the DoD-contractor model.


Musk and Tesla have marketed their autopilot and handled autopilot accidents very poorly. Musk has been indignant at suggestions that Tesla needs to raise more money this year. That attitude in the face of a financial situation that seems to obviously require an influx of cash (while dealing with major production issues) has not helped their public perception.


I think, he's started to quell too many disagreeing opinions. That's why people started seeing him as delusional. And his business seems to suffer from that. You need opposing views.

I get that you have to push forward strongly for a vision to succeed, but there seems to be a fine line between strongly pushing a vision and ignoring all important criticism. And right now he's no longer on the right side of that line IMHO.

That seems to be the price of success. People made him a hero and this is the result.


I've become increasingly annoyed by Musk's personality, ego, Twitter tantrums and his deceptive statements. I used to be a big fan and follower of anything Elon-related. Still a fan of SpaceX.

Having said that, I think they make well-designed, innovative and inspiring products. Build quality and financials are terrible though.

> A fund manager can be as risky as she likes

This is off-topic but... am I the only one that finds this cringey and forced, given that it's such a such male-dominated field?


FWIW, I'm a woman and I'm a big fan of singular they.

It is also possible to avoid pronouns altogether at times. It's more work to both do that and not sound stilted and weird. I have made my peace with occasionally sounding stilted, such as A fund manager can be as risky as a fund manager likes.

When I had a corporate job, some training examples advocated finding ways to rewrite the sentence to sanitize it of gender rather than using awkward constructions like he or she. It's more work, but if you do it habitually it gets easier.


Yeah, I use "they" most of the time. When I can't think of a phrasing that wouldn't sound weird I occasionally just use "he" or "she", depending on which is more likely. It's not a huge deal.


> am I the only one that finds this cringey and forced

You are not the only one. I also find this politically-correctness quite useless and - in this particular case - also insulting towards women.


Yes, you see that everywhere nowadays... why not just say "A fund manager can be as risky as they like" and leave it at that.


It's an older style of dealing with the pronoun-of-a-hypothetical-person problem. It dates the writer (or style guide) a little.


I want you to run with this thought wherever it takes you:

1. Tesla is heavily shorted. 2. Tesla and SpaceX are disrupting heavily entrenched industries (and we could argue a lot about how much or how effectively, but let's not). 3. It's become apparently easy to mobilize armies of artificial opinion on the internet, who in turn mobilize real people due to groupthink and the human love for picking sides and shouting about it.

I am not suggesting in any way that there isn't anything valid to criticize or that anyone who does so is a sockpuppet, but if there aren't any such campaigns by moneyed interests to tarnish those brands online I would be extremely shocked.


The interesting thing is ... I have had similar thoughts but exactly the other way around. Sometimes the fanboyism is so strong I figure it must be subsidized.

I feel ambivalent myself, I have no vested interest in Tesla succeeding or failing. Objectively, the numbers paint a pretty sober picture of their future and I wouldn't consider investing any of my money there. But ... I think it would be cool if they succeeded. I've never been particularly interested in any electric car, Tesla or not, but anybody willing to push the technology forward is appreciated.


Even if Tesla was engaging in similar games, there's a lot more money and resources on the opposing sides, because he's created a lot of opposition. I'm not a fan in general of one person having ridiculous amounts of money or power because the human psyche never deals with that well, but I would rather such a person attempt to push progress forward rather than hide from the world with other rich folks and idly hoard. Elon Musk has become the bike shed of rich people because he's doing flashy, obvious things.


Tesla is heavily shorted but there is still way more long position stock. Shorters hiring astroturfers seems vaguely plausible but no more likely than people with long positions doing the same thing.

I very highly doubt that Honda is hiring people to make negative forum posts about Tesla.


Trust me, I was never stayed by groupthink. Infact the groupthink has almost always been Tesla fanboyism.

I personally was set off by Elon musk's claims about autonomy, every since he started claiming them in 2015. I still don't think a line following robot should be allowed control of a car, and good forbid not have a human driver behind it.


Many here likely feel that they've been subjected to too much hype.


I would generally agree, but on HN? With people hyping as much Uber for hairbrush type products that will "change the world" Tesla and SpaceX hype is fairly warranted.


I really need to rent out my hairbrush on demand. Do you have a link?


Still in stealth mode but raised 10 dollars at 50 billion valuation


I feel like the old criticism leveled against Steve Jobs definitely applies here -- the so-called "Reality Distortion Field." It seems extremely prevalent around Tesla. Even though IMHO Steve Jobs was far more charismatic. Musk has a rabid following that is very unwelcoming towards anything perceived as slightly critical of him or his companies.


I never understood the fanboyism on HN. Tesla builds electric cars with a subpar autopilot. They are nice cars but it's far from revolutionary. Tesla is not SpaceX.

Tesla is not Apple, the car industry is not Nokia. Many people on HN seem to be confused here. I do think SpaceX should be renamed Tesla though, it would help selling Tesla cars.


I actually think the Apple comparison is quite apt; it's the novel application and extension of existing technologies into desirable consumer-level products. Not an Apple product/feature announcement goes by without a chorus of people shouting about how it's not really an invention because some other company already has it buried in their product. Can't the same be said about virtually everything Tesla is doing in the electric car space?

And yet, in both cases, there is something much more compelling about it than the competitors' products. It doesn't matter if you're a fanboy, an anti-fanboy, or somewhere in the middle-- from where I sit, they both have a similar niche where they stand out, and get excessive press coverage for both the good and bad things they do.


The only problem is that Apple products have been printing money for the past 15 years while Tesla products burn through money.

The argument against Tesla isn't about their products, it is about the economic valuation of the company making the products.


true, but Apple had its dark days too, and fundamentally much of their vision was the same back then as it was when they hit it big -- user friendly, design forward, closed ecosystem, etc.

Also, Tesla does well between car development cycles. If they can ride it out, they can print money too. The problem is whether they can get BETTER at developing new cars with less investment, and ramping more quickly, driving true volume. They might print money for a few quarters once Model 3 production is up, but that depends on there being an endless stream of buyers, and in cars, we know that's not the case.


Musk's greatest skill is as a self-promoter, conflating technological progress with the success of his business ventures. Many fall for this marketing.


As far as I understand, Tesla is a cool and hyped company, and it also overexplores their workers, and their fabrics are unsafe: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/apr/19/tesla-cal...

Their relation with journalists aren't also very good: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/elon-...


If GM disappeared tomorrow, nothing that I care about changes

I think you'd care far more than you realize. GM is huge and it failing would have massive downstream effects.


> Seriously, what has he done to deserve this negativity?

Interesting isn't it? It's almost like someone turned on a switch and suddenly there is rampant anti-elon musk sentiment. What has elon musk done recently?

Well, he went after the biased media.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1000560049389907969?lang...

and the "journalists" have been waging a war against him. There is a ridiculous amount of news industry workers here ( one of the reasons for the rampant censorship here and on other social media sites is to accommodate the news industry ). The news companies have social media teams pushing their narrative all over social media along with their third party affiliates and ngos.

The media's current punching bag is zuckerburg ( hence the nonstop facebook stories here ). But zuckerburg is giving in to the media, so I suspect the new punching bag will be elon musk.

Expect a lot of negative stories, comments and threads about tesla and elon musk going forward. At least until musk apologizes or gives in to the media.


Alternatively, Musk does a lot of bad things and the journalists are rightfully calling him out for it.

Musk is notoriously anti-union, continually over-promises then under-delivers, has continually treated his wives as trophies, and has designed a worse subway just because he doesn't want his knees to touch some peasant's knees. He's just another shitty billionaire


That's true. Musk, like all people, have their positives and negatives.

But he's always been this way. The question is why the sudden change in sentiment?

And as bad as elon musk is, the journalists are much worse. I'd rather have a world full of elon musks than journalists.

> Musk is notoriously anti-union

To be fair, no entrepreneur in a fledgling/new industry is pro-union. Actually, no entrepreneur is pro-union.

> continually over-promises then under-delivers

That's shareholders' concern, not ours.

> has continually treated his wives as trophies

Welcome to humanity. Are you going to blame his wives who loved to be trophies? Seems like personal business between consenting adults.

> and has designed a worse subway just because he doesn't want his knees to touch some peasant's knees.

As opposed to the elitist journos who love to slum it with the peasants right?

> He's just another shitty billionaire

Who the media loved. For nearly 20 years, the media wasn't too concerned with his anti-union stance, his trophy wives, his failure to delivery on his promises, etc.


Imagine being such a bootlicker that you support the objectification of women: https://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/a5380/millionaire-start...


There is no need for insults. I said elon musk has positives and negatives. How is that being a bootlicker?

And I never said I supported the objectification of women. I said I believed in independent free choice of both men and women. If a woman chooses to be a trophy wife, that's her right as a free individual. If a man chooses to marry a trophy wife, that's his right as a free individual.

Whether a man wants to marry a man or a woman wants to marry a woman or a billionaire wants to marry a trophy wife or a trophy wife wants to marry a billionaire, it's their right. As long as they are consenting adults. If consenting adults doing what they want bothers you, then the problem is with you, not them.


I think this crux of it comes down to:

1. People thinking Tesla is overhyped

2. People thinking Musk is overhyped

3. Failings of the two (autopilot, product/shipping delays, etc)


I dunno... I'm beginning to think HN sees this as hype=overhype.

On failing... thats unconsciounable. Of any place, this should be the site where we don't hate on failure. Failure is a definitive property of risk. Risk is the one thing that makes Musk unique, at the scale he's acting on. He puts everything on the line for a chance at an ambitious goal. This is exactly the ethic I come to this site for.


If you’re building a web app you can fail upwards until you find success. If you’re building a car and you fail people die.

Its like the difference between any random saas and Theranos.


And if you succeed in producing an exceptionally safe car, you save many lives.


Apparently Musk really pissed off the media with his talks about creating a media ratings/fact-checking site. I'm actually following it closely because I'm also working on a fact-checking project.

Maybe the hate predates this incident and has little to do with it, but a few weeks of negative articles can do a lot to change some people's attitudes. At one point CNN had an opinion piece on the homepage titled "Elon Musk is Humiliating Himself" - that can't be helpful.


Scepticism for Musk/Tesla has been around for much much longer than the fact-checking site idea.


True, although I'd never seen him attacked as harshly as he has been recently. This time it was a lot more personal.


Yes, but this seems new and improved. Media articles were mostly gushing over him for the longest time, now there seem to be much more negative articles and comments floating around. It seems somewhat engineered.


Ok, so that covers the media. What did he do to piss of hn?


It's his repeated blatant disconnection from reality (a.k.a. technically not lying, but...) in his remarks regarding production levels of the Model 3, regarding Tesla's financial state, and most importantly, regarding the capabilities of "autopilot" and refusal to take responsibility for technical failures in said "autopilot."

I wouldn't say HN is mad at him so much as wanting him to be responsible and own up to reality. He's supposed to be an engineer, and Proper engineers don't engage in "spin." Furthermore, "spin" has to be somewhat believable, whereas Musk has had a recent history of blatant falsehoods. Just like HN calls out anyone else when they're wrong (that is, disconnected from reality), HN is calling out Musk now that he's verbally disconnected from reality. HN has a low BS threshold.


I assume most HN readers are impacted by attitudes in the media. We like to think all of our opinions are our own but it's not always the case.


Possibly an aversion to seeing con men succeed at the con.


Con man? Really? What's the con?


Several days before Tesla raised cash he said there's "zero concern, and I mean zero" about 10k/week by the end of 2018.

According to documents from some lawsuit by ex-employees, he was told repeatedly that 5k/week is impossible by the end of 2017, but despite that knowledge, he publicly stated that as Tesla's guidance.

After Tesla got fired from NTHSA investigation, he issued a press release stating they decided to leave the investigation. After that, NTHSA had to clarify what really happened.

Etc.


>Overall Musk has been pretty straightforward and explicit with what he's doing.

He's selling things that he can't produce now, and possibly won't ever be able to produce. If you think this is simply about missing a few deadlines, you aren't following along close enough.

Telling people profits are around the corner for years on end, that self-driving is around the corner for years on end, that you'll build a mass-market $35,000 car for years on end, all the while collecting money to do so. Being very coy about disclosures. Playing the Trump "fake news" card (every negative article is fake!).

I remember coming to HackerNews and reading about Theranos, and anyone who claimed it wouldn't work was sexist or couldn't dream big enough. We are lazy bums, and these people are changing the world! Who are we to criticize?

>If Tesla disappears, this could set back electric cars by 5yrs

Five whole years of setback? Versus the hundreds of thousands of jobs related to GM, as well as their world class self-driving tech and decent EV programs? Maybe you need to reassess what you "care" about.

>Why doesn't Elon get this amount of rope?

If he didn't want to be accountable to shareholders, he should have kept the company private. Why is it that HackerNews acts like companies go public as a favour to the rest of us poor schlubs?


SpaceX has admirably ambitious goals. While cheering/hating is of negligible value, it doesn't hurt to broaden one's view about NewSpace.

Ref: https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-ffc-12-in_elon_we_trust


My problem has always been that he pushes these altruistic goals "green earth"/"space travel" and then executes it with the most extreme version of capitalism available. It's like an ad campaign to him.


The most extreme (or normal actually) version of capitalism is to milk anything riskless. Build moats. Lock in customers create network effects and entrench your position regardless of how good your future products will be.

Musk is criticised for doing exactly the opposite. Risking shareholders money by (for example) insisting on going to mars, when there are lower risk options available.


It's not actually that risky to already be rich and then find a way to milk the government for billions of dollars in subsidies.


You do understand why Governments subsidise things don't you?


Yes - to make it much less risky for business to engage in those endeavours. That only proves my point though.


You must know him personally to make these assessments of his intentions, got any other stories to share?


He states them in every single press conference and interview? Edit: added "like" to the original comment.


Musk has been acting like a wealthy douchebag on Twitter with Trump-style meltdowns about fake news, especially concerning the (excellent, quality journalism) reports about unsafe practices and union busting at his factories.

Basically, he's an empathy deficient exploitative narcissistic a-hole, an laying people off fits that picture perfectly.


Maybe there is that element that Tesla is risking not only their business (which would be totally fine) but also their customers' lives.


He's used his public profile as a Barnum-esque celebrity to bury and bully away legitimate criticism of him and his companies' on any number of fronts, from worker mistreatment to the dangerous state of his self-driving program.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/what-its-like-when-elon-musks-...

https://www.revealnews.org/article/tesla-says-its-factory-is...

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tesla-racism-lawsuit-2...

https://www.theverge.com/2018/4/12/17229518/tesla-ntsb-autop...


The problem is that most unbiased news sources have been corrupted. Reddit has fallen, and hackernews is about all that's left. That means that the trolls have begun showing up here.

Trolls have gotten more skilled, and are able to convert new trolls without people realizing they have become trolls. You just have to get people angry a few times, and they'll do anything you want. Once they've calmed down, they'll continue doing the same thing for the sake of consistency.

Musk has pissed off the media by calling them out on their lack of ethics, so a storm is coming for Musk that will look very similar to what happened to Gamer-gate when they called out the media. The media literally branded them as women-haters with zero evidence and it stuck.


There are legitimate criticisms of Tesla that shouldn't be hand-waved away as trolling.


Few and far between. Whenever I hear this, it's always "oh, they take subsidies".

The only ones I've heard that haven't been trolling are concerns about their financial reports, which are always "concerns about financial reports" with no additional information.

Ok, go ahead and be concerned that the stock is inflated. It's not a real conversation.

Like, for example, look at what happened last week. We were bombarded by an avalanche of negative Elon/Tesla articles. It was consistent. "Tesla Factory is HELL". Like, I must have read "HELL" 3 or 4 times last week. This followed by a failed coup attempt to oust him from the board of directors. Turns out that there were billions of dollars invested in shorts that Tesla stock would plummet.

There was a coordinated effort to tank Tesla and oust him as CEO last week that failed. The result was that stock spiked and the short-sellers lost like 1.5B.

This is the kind of shit that goes on week after week with Tesla.


> Few and far between. Whenever I hear this, it's always "oh, they take subsidies". The only ones I've heard that haven't been trolling are concerns about their financial reports, which are always "concerns about financial reports" with no additional information.

I would add to that concerns about the current state of their automated driving implementation, as well as the way they are marketing it. I think a lot of those concerns are justified, and I say this as a pretty hardcore fan.

(I don't disagree with the rest of your post.)


They have also been handling the response to the autopilot glitches pretty terribly. Someone should just tell Musk to shut up when someone dies in one of his cars and not immediately rush in to defend the technology. And especially don't twist the truth to make the dead guy look worse. Either suck it up and admit that the technology remains a work-in-progress, or ... perhaps a better choice ... say nothing at all beyond "our sincere condolences to the family of so-and-so"


His strategy is to fix the issue quick, and to prevent people from capitalizing on these opportunities to sink his company. You don't think Ford is throwing money at anyone who will bad-mouth Tesla?

NHTSA will spin their wheels for a year on an investigation, and accomplish absolutely nothing.


I don't recall Ford, or any other manufacturer of note, publicly bashing a victim of a crash of one of their cars. Like telling the whole world that he had his hands off the wheel in the moments leading up to the crash while knowing that it had been nearly 20 minutes since he had been warned about it. Musk tried to use misinformation to deflect from his own knowledge [which was not yet public] that in fact the car erroneously switched into a lane-that-is-not-really-a-lane and then accelerated.

I know you're spending a lot of time white-knighting for Tesla on HN today, but c'mon, quit being so disingenuous about this. They are not at all perfect and in fact have made some spectacular missteps.


I agree that there are concerns. I just don't think any of my concerns ever start with a news article. Every time I read an article like this, and think "Oh no, a legitimate concern" it ends up being overblown.

If this layoff article ends up being a legitimate source of concern, it'll be the first time out of like hundreds of articles a month.

And yeah, I'm with you on the state of driving implementation. I think the criticism that calling it auto-pilot is misleading is a legitimate concern, for example. I would call it co-pilot until it's fully automated, and call it auto-pilot once you can take your hands off the wheel. That would be consistent with the naming-scheme they have chosen, wouldn't diminish brand value, and would be more accurate.

But again, it's just every time I read one of these articles, the comments are saturated with anti-Tesla hate that is either coming from Russia, Big Oil, or some day-traders trying to bring the stock down $10 so they can buy a turn a quick profit for the day.


A 9% adjustment isn’t bad against a business that is running as hot as Tesla...


Are they running hot? They're in serious financial trouble and have been unable to meet self-imposed production levels. Now they're laying off thousands of people.


"running hot" seems like an ambiguous metaphor in this case. It could mean "they're doing very well", but could also mean "in imminent danger of failure", as in a CPU or overworked engine. The latter might be what the parent meant.

Or maybe they didn't, and their choice of words is unintentionally amusing and ironic.


"have been unable to meet self-imposed production levels". Scaling car production takes lots of experience, takes lots of infrastructure. I mean, Ford's Ford Rogue River Complex is 1 mile x 1.5 miles, it has 93 buildings making up nearly 16 million square feet of factory.

Musk always overestimates what he will be able to achieve in a given period and that's a good thing. It keeps you busting ass to make your goal instead of getting complacent and lazy.

Investors and keyboard cowboys need to realize that Tesla is not Ford/GM/Toyota, that it is a company that is effectively still an infant and has never produced at any worthwhile scale and has to figure all that out.


They are not in financial trouble. Most people are only skeptical if they can do it without raising capital.

However everybody agrees that they both have many costumers waiting and would be able to raise capital.

Nobody believes that Tesla is in real real serious troupe.


Spending tons more than you make and not having savings is traditionally called financial trouble. Even after a recent huge rally their most recently issued bonds are yielding 7% which means lots of real people think they are a risk.

Lots of customers is good, but the more cars they have made the more money they have lost. Negative operating leverage is really bad for any company, but especially one as cash intensive as manufacturing vehicles.

I'm rooting for them, but Tesla is indeed in serious financial trouble. Just ask Elon who fired 3,500 people so he could make the books look nicer.


> They are not in financial trouble. Most people are only skeptical if they can do it without raising capital.

Take a few minutes and read https://priceonomics.com/porsche-the-hedge-fund-that-also-ma.... The moral of that story was, if you're "fine as long as you can raise capital", then you're actually in a very precarious position. And it was even another luxury car company to boot!

Not that Tesla is making the same speculative financial shenanigans that Porsche was, but the point is, access to capital has a tendency to dry up right when you need it most. If there's a recession in the next 18-24 months (which, glancing at yield curves, is looking increasingly likely) and lending tightens up, Tesla might not find it as easy as you think to raise capital right when they need it to avoid running out of money.


And Tim Cook is waiting for that moment to arrive, so that he can put an apple on every Tesla.


> They are not in financial trouble. Most people are only skeptical if they can do it without raising capital.

I agree, they are not in financial trouble. Being dependent on a near-term capital raise, however, is financially perilous. Lots of companies were waiting for the fall fundraising season when Lehman went bankrupt.


Elon said in the last meeting that this is not required.


Elon has said many things that weren't true and the balance sheet doesn't lie. Tesla is going to need to raise capital.


Mostly timeline related, not sure if he has lied/misled about financials.


They can't keep up with demand and their sales look like this over time:

$4 billion -> $7 billion -> $11.7 billion -> ~$17 billion

How is 4x growth in three fiscal years anything other than running hot?


Their losses look like this over time:

$889m -> $675m -> $2b -> ??? (a cool $710m in the 1Q so annualized like you did with revenue would be ~$3b).

They have ~$2.8b in the bank, so that's about a year if things continue like they have been, less if they hit a snag. Which is why Elon is firing people left and right.


> They have ~$2.8b in the bank, so that's about a year if things continue like they have been, less if they hit a snag.

More if they succeed in ramping up the Model 3 production.


Yes, and people who are going bankrupt will also have their problems alleviated if they suddenly get a better job. That has nothing to do with whether or not there is a cashflow problem in the first place. I'm rooting for them, but Tesla is certainly in financial trouble.


> Yes, and people who are going bankrupt will also have their problems alleviated if they suddenly get a better job.

If people going bankrupt have marketable skills and are doing everything in their power to find a job in a hot market, I would be brave enough to lend them some money for the transition.

My point is that Tesla's success in ramping up production is not as improbable as you make it sound. They are focussing all their resources on this goal, and at least to my mind, they are likely to succeed.


But at the same time they had a net loss of $888.66 million in 2015, $674.91 million in 2016, and a whopping $1,961.4 million in 2017 [1]. In the first quarter of 2018 alone, they had a loss of $785 million [2].

That's not looking good.

1: http://archive.is/7sPSR

2: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/2/17312772/tesla-earnings-q1...


Why is Tesla doing this? It is riding high on the success of its electric cars and Elon Musk is so famous and is considered a visionary.


Friendly PSA: always negotiate severance. Companies can always be forced to restructure like this or even just choose to on a whim. Pressure from the board, hiring a new CTO who wants to bring in his or her own people, etc. etc.

Always make sure you are happy with what type of offsetting compensation you’ll receive in this eventuality before taking the job, and consider it a huge timesaver if an employer passes on you because you asked to negotiate a competitive severance package.


Easy to say for those of us with highly-demanded skillsets. My hunch is that a large portion of that 9% didn't have that luxury.


I understand it’s not always possible, but your response (which seems to always be the gist of the first response when I make a comment like this) is usually overstated.

You don’t have to have some crazy special skillset or seniority. You just have to politely say no to any prospective employer who won’t offer it and keep searching.

Yes, of course negotiating power is limited if you’re in dire straits & must take any job. Definitely sucks and I wish we offered better protection to candidates in that situation.

But many people just don’t even think to ask, even when they already have a job they are OK to stick with if they need to turn down a different offer.


Looks like the 9% were mostly management in redundant roles, not production.

100% of the articles I have read about Tesla have been completely fabricated hit-pieces, or like this one, completely misleading. I think that at this point, they deserve the benefit of the doubt unless you're willing to actually read the article.


How is it misleading?

They purged contractors not long ago and are now laying off lots of people. Those are facts.

They reported that "production associates" are unaffected by the layoffs -- which doesn't mean that people working in production aren't impacted. It just means that they aren't laying off hourly employees in production. The editorial at the bottom of the article rationalizes the decision and reflects that it is ultimately good for the company.

IMO, it was a pretty balanced article that delivered potentially bad news in a fair way.


Misleading in that, when you hear layoffs, you immediately think "financial trouble" because that's usually the context that you hear about layoffs.

These articles you hear about Tesla are sometimes factual, but they're not published because they're factual. They're published to do damage and affect stock prices in a way that make specific people rich. It's the equivalent of playing poker, and affecting your neighbor's hand by distracting the dealer.

Every week there's a god damn article about Elon's "fall from grace" (what?) or about how he's trying to prevent unionization (you mean the fake unions that Ford has been trying to start, but workers aren't interested in?) or about subsidies (which are still a fraction of oil subsidies).

As a result, he made the mistake of criticizing the ethics of the media. So start expecting him to get the Gamer-gate treatment as the media pile on him even harder than before with fabricated news.

Every time I read a negative piece about Elon or Tesla, I worry "oh shit, is this the one?" and I look into the article and it's absolute bullshit. At this point, even if I read an article and it appears to be factual, I'd say the burden of proof is on the naysayers, and not on Musk or Tesla, given past performance.


You think "financial trouble" in this case because there is plenty of it. Tesla is a company with 6 months to either get cash or become insolvent.

Elon Musk is an amazing innovator and amazing PR guy. Few people can turn an idea into reality as well. But... he's running a high risk business whose rich valuation can go poof at any time. Because his personal name is inseparable from the firm, he's going to get heat for it.

The financial press has an obligation to talk about this stuff. Investors deserve to be informed.


The submitted article is from Electrek, which is a Tesla-friendly blog.

In the actual email, Musk says this:

> As part of this effort, and the need to reduce costs and become profitable, we have made the difficult decision to let go of approximately 9% of our colleagues across the company

How is that not related to “financial trouble”?


They are literally laying off 9% of their employees. Saying that they are laying off people is not "bias", it is stating facts. The fact that Tesla is taking steps that typically are associated with "financial trouble" is just what the reality of the situation is.


Have you tried reading their financials? Lots of good stuff in there.

Do you consider Elon Musks Twitter to be unbiased, real news?


No one considers Elon Musks Twitter to be unbiased, real news. Stop trolling with false dichotomies.


In general, "at will" employees don't have anything to negotiate. It's strictly take it or leave it. There are no contracts unless the CEO gets involved, and the CEO won't be getting involved just for you. The hiring manager will just pass on you and move to the next-best candidate.

You negotiate your starting salary, and that's it. So make sure you account for the likelihood that you will get zero notice and zero severance when you get fired. Which is to say you need to ask for more money, and save some of it in high-liquidity, low-risk form.

People wonder about salary inflation, but when you look at total compensation, it isn't quite so extreme. Companies cut or eliminate benefits, and employees have to demand higher salary to compensate. The salaries are going up at a higher than usual rate, because companies are slashing benefits packages faster than usual.

Those companies are figuring out the hard way that employees are not clueless about the value of their benefits. New employee candidates coming in will see the crap benefits and ask for more money. Existing employees will leave for either benefits more similar to what they once had, or for more money. In general, cutting the benefits results in being less competitive overall as an employer, because it usually costs less for a company to buy the benefits in bulk, than for employees to buy them piecemeal.

In the case of severance, the major advantage for the company doing it is that you absolutely cannot spend that money on anything else until you are fired. You could get that by buying a special insurance policy for unplanned unemployment, or you can discipline yourself to never touch your "severance fund" except in dire emergency. Also, you are taxed on a severance payment in a year when you otherwise have less income, because you got fired, whereas a personal "severance fund" is taxed as you earn the principal, and again when you liquidate, if you realized gains. Make sure the company will be paying for all that before you start work, because once you start, most of your leverage disappears. They no longer need to convince you to quit your previous job, and only need to do just enough to keep you from quitting your new one.

The last severance I got was in 2002. No company since has ever been willing to pay it out or even negotiate the possibility. Severance is dead. Long live the personal "oh shit" fund. Make your employer pay you enough to have one, along with a personal retirement fund, a personal vacation fund, a personal health care fund, a personal commuting budget, and personal equivalents of all those other things that many companies once paid for, but no longer do.

We don't need a union, if everybody can individually commit to asking for more money.


You are quite simply wrong. When you negotiate severance in an at-will employment agreement, it will involve the same kinds of contractual documents you have to sign as when you are offered severance upon a sudden termination. There are usually documents relating to non-disparagement and possibly enhanced agreements about non-disclosure or non-compete that extend beyond things in the company handbook. They include specific language in which you acknowledge the employer is offering you something of material value, the severance pay, continuation of benefits, etc., in exchange for your agreement to those conditions, and generally also a waiver of ability to make claims for additional compensation.

These are generally legally enforceable, and severance is not merely a discretionary component that is up to the company. It's something you can (generally without that much trouble) actually sue for, similar to unpaid wages, if the company terminates you without paying.

I have never once heard of a company requiring a C-suite executive to get involved for creating these very routine types of severance agreements for regular employees, and I myself have negotiated severance in a standard at-will employment agreement at my three most recent jobs.


Every potential employer I have talked to in "at will" states (WI, IL, IN, TN, AL) has made it clear, on application, that I would not have a contract, and that I should not consider any document I receive to be a contract unless it is signed by the CEO. On the occasions when I brought it up (3), I was told in each instance that the company did not have severance agreements, and that they would not discuss it further. I stopped asking after that, and just rolled it into my salary expectation.

Don't tell me I'm wrong. I lived it.

They don't want to do it because, like offering vacation instead of PTO, it represents a cost of firing someone. They very much want to be able to drop anyone, at any time, for free, as that means they don't need to set aside money for firing people.


As a hiring manager myself I have not run across this situation, but now I am curious. I'm going to get together with our HR folks and ask them what would happen if a candidate made such a demand. I don't work for a huge company, but with a couple thousand U.S. employees we are not tiny either. I am interested in what I hear back. I would certainly never have negotiated this myself while looking for a job so it will be educational either way. Thanks for giving me something to think about!


I’m surprised to hear that it’s not that common for your firm. Negotiating severance is common enough that e.g. when I talk to third party recruiting firms for hiring for my team, it’s one of the first questions they ask.

Large firms usually have a very low baseline severance plan calculated something like 1 week of pay for each year of tenure, and they may say in the handbook it is only offered on a discretionary basis at the time of termination.

But I’ve always had no problem negotiating a customized severance package regardless of whether a firm had that sort of policy, especially because severance should fairly reflect compensation for any time or opportunity costs an employee might endure due to a non-compete agreement, etc., which means usually it should be at least several months of salary and possibly continuation of benefits (e.g. not externalizing that cost to the employee through COBRA but actually continuing to pay their premiums for a set amount of months).

Huge companies are harder to convince of this, and in that case I was able to negotiate the severance amount to instead be paid as a sign-on bonus, so that saving the money to cover costs in the event of being terminated was my responsibility, but the company still agreed to pay for it.


Still waiting for my site visit for the $1000 I put down a very long time ago for my solar roof.


Somewhere along the way I have come to appreciate that as a society we need to optimize better for psychological, financial and physical wellbeing of people prioritized by proximity: employees, community, humanity. It will definitely slow down innovation. We might go to Mars 20yrs late, no self driving cars for 10 more yrs, walk around the city some more before electric scooter land etc.

Of course it is in conflict with innovations in humanity impacting products like cure for cancer, malaria etc. It would be nice to figure out a solution that provides a good balance.


Have you considered moving to Europe?


This. Even if you don't cross an ocean you can still vote with your feet. You get the benefit of living somewhere with agreeable politics and the group you left gets the benefit of being "rid" of you. Everyone is happier that way. Of course people just need to have their cake and eat it too which causes problems. Sure, moving is a pain in the butt for a laundry list of reason but you have to ask yourself is it less of a pain in the butt than living somewhere where most people hold mostly incompatible beliefs from your own and what your priorities are.


Right. But I'm thinking if there is a way to solve this systemically (including US).


>It will definitely slow down innovation

It will definitely slow down innovation. Some projects / aspirations will come off the table completely. Mars? Forget about it. All your mars money will be treating AIDS/Malaria/Cancer/Whatever. All NASA and space exploration money will go to feeding poor people and refugees and all manner of charitable causes, these causes will only ever multiply ad infinitum. I think there is really only money for one or the other. You can have a comfy easy welfare state life, or you can explore and reach for the stars.

You can't do discount Mars, or space exploration on the cheap, you basically can't have both. Your welfare state will make it so that you don't ever really have enough money to actually do any kind of space exploration. Sure you can send cheap drones locally within the solar system, but that's all space exploration will ever be from now on.


Maybe instead of NASA, the money could come from the war budget instead? [1]

[1] http://www.newsweek.com/how-many-trillions-war-has-cost-us-t...


That won't happen. I don't think 'regime change' is going to come off the foreign policy menu, nor is paying back all the debt that is owed. So the space money is going to be eaten by debt payments and more 'regime change' initiatives around the world. I forgot all about foreign policy, I thought there would be no money before, now i KNOW there will be no money for any of that.


Is there a way to have both? Innovation (that matters) plus localized wellbeing? Regulation could force the second to certain extent but I would prefer a market solution.


Elon musk is probably thinking in the reverse order as you ? humanity, community, employees


Generally I agree with you that the economic growth is all costs is not the way to go and we need to consider people and their happiness much more than we do now. However, for possible extinction scenarios like massive climate change or the inability to leave earth when that unseen asteroid rushes towards us, I think we need to work much much faster than we are working right now and unhappiness of some is an acceptable loss.

I understand though that others might have different value judgements.


Again?


This is definitely the move of a company in the process of scaling up production of their mass market vehicle that their valuation hinges on. Definitely not about managing cash flow.


There's no need for sarcasm. Have confidence in yourself that you can speak plainly and the import of your comment will be undesrtand.


I appreciate the sarcasm, adds spice to the discussion. Nothing to do with confidence, that's just your attempt at putting the guy down.


Are you missing a "/s"? Or do you mean that they are preparing for another round of funding and want to improve their valuation?


It is the usual snark that dominates any discussion of Tesla. There's so much snark in these threads, it becomes hard to detect.


Text-based speech has always had a hard time conveying emotion. No need to feel bad about not detecting sarcasm here, we're probably all oblivious to an extent.


Yea, I just abandoned the thread altogether at this point. Might even be Tesla shills - don't know


Musk has already admitted in the email to the company that this was a cost-cutting decision:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1006597562156003328

I also think that this move was mandated by the board when it recently voted for him to remain chairman (maybe not the firing per se, but that Tesla becomes profitable ASAP).


The reply below in a feed from someone called Eleonmusk which I initially thought is Musk himself, offering bitcoins after registering in some scam event...lol


yes, me too.

The russian letter n and the twitter interface together make it a bad combination.


How many lines of business is Tesla in? What lines of business are these cuts concentrated in?

Lacking the above info, it could very well be the move of a company concentrating resources on a full-scale ramp effort and pruning back non-core or non-scaling lines of business.


Go, short the stock. You will make a killing.


Even if this was correct thesis you could still lose money on a solid trade idea.

Trading is not easy. Plenty of folks were correct on a 2007 market top ... they still managed to lose money ... because they were too early among other things.


...and empty talk is cheap.


Clearly the result of over performing fully roboticized factory.


If one of Musk's companies ever needs to train a deep learning sarcasm detector, these threads provide an excelent dataset.


We're here to contribute to human progress


this is how it starts...

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