After days of following Elon Musk’s verbal bread crumbs on Twitter, the billionaire entrepreneur published his “Master Plan Part Deux” on Wednesday night, outlining a sweeping and grandiose vision that laid out future Tesla vehicles, shared and autonomous cars, and combined solar panels and batteries.
It was classic Musk, informing the world in no uncertain terms what it would look like years down the road, and what they could expect from a conjoined Tesla and SolarCity. He speaks like he’s reading from a science fiction novel, but then is unbelievably determined to turn that vision into reality.
That type of big picture thinking tends to be pretty polarizing. Fortune Editor Alan Murray recently dismissed the notion that the world needs to divide itself into “Elon lovers and Elon haters.” But given Musk’s unusual tendency to make such futuristic claims, and follow that up with a dogfight to implement that dream, he tends to draw both ardent fans and major skeptics.
In the skeptic camp, you could count investors that want “certainty.” There is really none when one of his companies can suddenly decide to buy another for close to $3 billion, and he announces the deal on a day when he’s not working on landing rockets for his other company. That’s one reason why the stock at times has been one of the most shorted. The certainty is “trust in Elon.”
Following publication of the Master Plan Part Deux last night, Tesla’s stock dropped 3.40% in morning trading to $220.64 as investors tried to figure out what to make of a blog post talking about car sharing and buses. Who knows if the stock will rebound today, next week or next month, but this skepticism has been the typical reaction to Musk’s moves for much of 2016.
Other investment groups are still worried about the issues with the SolarCity-Tesla deal, which hasn’t yet been approved, but which Musk’s Master Plan uses as a core tenant. The assumption that the deal will go through is so prevalent in the post, I’ve even seen media discuss it like it’s a done deal.
The CtW Investment Group has called for changes in Tesla and SolarCity’s governance given there’s only one person on SolarCity’s board who isn’t tied to Tesla. The group also been advocating for an independent chairman of Tesla that isn’t Musk. Musk has recused himself from voting on the deal, but that doesn’t stop him from doing media interviews, where he claims he expects a two-thirds majority in favor of the merger.
Other analysts have pointed out the obvious, but still true, fact that the Master Plan Part Deux doesn’t address any of Tesla’s near-term concerns—like that it’s missed its car shipment goals for two quarters in a row. That there seem to be some serious lingering issues with the Model X, Tesla’s electric SUV with sweeping doors. Or that there was the world’s first known fatality in an autonomous car—one of Tesla’s cars—in May, and regulators are still investigating the incident.
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But of course, the Master Plan blog post doesn’t get into those details. Tesla will have to face those logistical and financial issues soon enough when it announces earnings in two weeks, and when the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration comes back with their investigation findings.
As Rebecca Lindland, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, put it: “Tesla plans require a different aperture because Elon Musk views the world with a different lens. For better or worse (profitable or unprofitable), he measures success (and failure) with an entrepreneur’s metrics so judging his plans through usual business standards will only lead to frustration and extreme skepticism.”
You could easily write the Master Plan Part Deux off, but then Musk has used such documents as a beacon for his unique form of vision invention before. Ten years ago, he wrote the original Master Plan, which included the development and sale of a luxury electric sports car, a lower-cost electric car, a mainstream low-cost car, and also the rise of solar roofs. Those are, of course, Tesla’s Roadster, the Model S, the Model 3, and SolarCity.
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In the “Elon lover” camp, you could count Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists flooded Twitter (TWTR) with praise, admiration, and congratulations on Wednesday night.
This group knows better than anyone else how hard it is to build an electric car company, a solar company, and a rocket company from scratch. With Musk’s vision of the next decade unveiled, his Valley peers are eager to see him try again for round two.
Tesla customers—you could call this set the consumers—seem, not surprisingly, impressed with the Master Plan. They’ve already bought cars to tap into Musk’s original vision, and they’re pleased now to play their own parts in the next part of the ride.