What a week for Elon Musk, and not in a good way. If you need a refresher:
- After markets closed on Friday, Tesla announced the departure of four board members once their current terms expire.
- On Monday last week, a parked Tesla Model S randomly exploded in a Shanghai garage (and it was captured by CCTV).
- Two days prior to Tesla's mid-week first quarter earnings release Musk promised self-driving by the end of this year. But given that we hear that promise every year - Musk first made the claim back in 2015 - he upped the ante, saying Tesla would have one million self-driving robo-taxis on the road in 2020.
- The first quarter earnings report was unveiled and wow was it bad, showing a loss of $702 million, or $4.10 a share.
- During the earnings call Musk was asked if Tesla planned to get into the insurance business, to which he responded"...yes we are creating a Tesla insurance product and we hope to launch that in about a month. It will be much more compelling than anything else out there". A bold claim given how poorly Musk's promises have panned out in the past!
- Tesla's share price closed at $US235.14 on Friday, its lowest since January 2017.
Let's be honest, we're not going to see a million Tesla robo-taxis on the road by 2020; it's another Musk pipe dream on which he has applied an absurdly short, unrealistic time frame.
Really the only interesting announcement was the Tesla insurance product, and it wasn't even an announcement but an on-the-fly comment during the investor call. Does Musk actually have an insurance company in the works, or did he just think it was a good idea? The guy has a reputation for shooting from the hip, but insurance does actually make sense: Tesla already spies on all of its driversso Musk's statement that people wouldn't be allowed "to drive the car in a crazy way" if they want to keep premiums down claim should actually be relatively easy to enforce.
It's also a means for Tesla to do one of two things: crack the cash flow market that the likes of Apple have recently pivoted into (monthly subscriptions for everything); and/or bundle the insurance into the sale price as a bit of a loss leader, which is similar to how traditional car dealers bundle free annual services into their vehicle sales.
The latter is the most intriguing, as it's a point of difference for Tesla which is finally starting to face some healthy competition in the pure electric vehicle sector. That competition is coming at the same time as governments around the world are finally winding down their extremely generous electric vehicle subsidies, which have been Tesla's bread and butter for some time.
But will insurance be enough to save a company that haemorrhages nearly a million dollars a day? I'm not so sure and I'm clearly not alone, hence the Tesla share price free-fall.
Enjoy the rest of this week's issue. Cheers,
Only you, not Europe, can protect your privacy
The fabled General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is enforced in the country in which tech firms have their "data controller". In most cases, that's Ireland, which "has yet to bring an enforcement action against a big tech firm". There are plenty of other flaws in the GDPR, but that's a topic for another day.
- Amazon's Alexa Team Can Access Users' Home Addresses »
- Tim Cook calls for regulation of tech industry with 'serious issues' »
- EU votes to create gigantic biometrics database »
- How one country blocks the world on data privacy »
When a $3 billion fine is good news
Facebook was fined $3 billion by the FTC - a sum which could rise to $5 billion - yet it was interpreted as good news, with Facebook's shares rising as much as 10% following the news. Meanwhile Snapchat is dominating the young, US market but not much else.
- Facebook Set Aside $3 Billion For A Penalty. Then It Grew By $40 Billion. »
- Can Blockchain and Privacy Save Facebook? »
- Snapchat claims to reach 90% of all 13 to 24-year-olds in the US »
- Facebook expects FTC fine could be as much as $5 billion »
Blockchain in the news
A grab-bag of blockchain articles this week. It's not glamorous but digital identity is one area where the technology really shines.
- Zero Fees and Interest-free Loans in Decentralized Credit Networks »
- Meet Voatz, the blockchain company tackling election fraud »
- Civic Inks Deal to Bring Blockchain ID to 1,000 Vending Machines »
- SoftBank Founder Masayoshi Son Lost $130 Million on Bitcoin ($) »
- Things Got Weird for Stablecoin Tether »
China is winning 5G
China's economy is thriving (for now) thanks to some good ol' stimulus, but it's also dominating the 5G market via the likes of Huawei. The US really dropped the ball on 5G and it's definitely a sore spot, hence the only semi-successful push to have other countries reject it on unfounded privacy grounds.
- Huawei will help build Britain’s 5G network, despite security concerns »
- Made in China, Exported to the World: The Surveillance State »
- Amazon Quits China Market — Another U.S. E-commerce Giant Failing in China »
- Huawei first-quarter revenue grows 39 percent to $27 billion amid heightened U.S. pressure »
- "We are not rejecting someone because he is Chinese," EU's Juncker says on 5G »
Samsung's folding phone is a flop
The Samsung folding phone debacle is worse than I thought, as those plastic screens literally fell apart while reviewers were testing it. Meanwhile, how long until Apple starts hosting its own servers, rather than paying Amazon for the privilege?
- Samsung delays its $2,000 folding phone after test units break »
- Apple spends more than $30 million on Amazon’s cloud every month, making it one of the biggest AWS customers »
Other bits of interest
- Amazon on pace to spend $7 billion on video and music content this year »
- Facebook Says First-Person Christchurch Video Foiled AI System »
Image of the week
Elon Musk might say that demand is strong and he expects Tesla to meet its full year guidance, but the data tell a different story: deliveries were down 31% from the fourth quarter. Remember that Musk is the same guy who in January said he was "optimistic about being profitable in Q1", before presiding over a quarterly loss of $702 million. Take whatever he says with a very healthy pinch of salt.
That's all for now. If you enjoyed this issue, feel free to share it via email →
Issue 30: Oh Elon... was compiled by Justin Pyvis and delivered on 30 April 2019. Feel free to send feedback, suggestions for future issues, ideas, insults, or pretty much anything that crosses your mind to their Keybase or Riot.im account.