The Impeccable Hustle of Elon Musk

This weekend’s must-read article is an in-depth piece about the seven-state melee to bring the Tesla Gigafactory (and its jobs) home. Nevada (the eventual winner) took on multiple competing sites in Texas as well as the states of California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Arizona for the right to put to up over a billion in start-up costs, tax breaks and electricity incentives. The process shows a great deal about how shrewd the Tesla organization truly is. It also spotlights the impeccable hustle of Elon Musk – who is himself a combination of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, all rolled up into one superhuman genius who lives five years ahead of the rest of mankind.

Tesla rightly saw how badly the states were in need of a big jobs victory – and how far they could be pushed to compete against each other. He played the entire American West like he was conducting an orchestra. Peter Elkind tells the behind-the-scenes story in a feature at Fortune Magazine:

And so it was that Tesla’s campaign to find a home for its battery plant began in mid-October of last year with an almost coy mixture of mystery and secrecy. Susan St. Germain, a senior business recruiter for the state of Washington, says her office got a call from a Tesla executive who explained that the company had a “major” project to discuss in confidence. She was invited to fly down to Tesla’s car factory in Fremont, Calif., on condition that she sign a nondisclosure agreement.

When she arrived, St. Germain discovered counterparts from California, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon. It was clear there was to be a competition. Tesla executives presented their plans to build a massive battery plant in one of the states represented at the meeting. It would mean thousands of new jobs and billions in investment.

Every detail seemed perfectly stage-managed, down to the name of the planned facility. Any company can build a large factory. Only Tesla would give a manufacturing facility its own brand and hype, dubbing it the “gigafactory.”

The company executives distributed handouts but collected them before anyone could leave the room. Taking notes was prohibited. Afterward, to make sure they were truly hooked, each attendee got a turn at the wheel of a Model S—on a private street where it was possible to floor it. “It was enough to throw you back in your seat,” recalls St. Germain. “It made me a little nervous—you don’t want to wreck their car.”

It’s quite a story, make time for this.


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