The Tesla story is fascinating. Whether you love the company or hate it, it is easy to get pulled into the story like you’re pulled into a good movie. This is surely one reason so many people so obsessively check for Tesla news and op-eds every day.
Another reason is that Tesla’s vehicles are freakin’ wicked — in a class of their own. But I’ll come back to that in a minute.
People sometimes think or try to claim Tesla is all about hype. If Elon Musk wasn’t such a good hype man, Tesla would be nothing — so the critique goes. I think there is an element of truth in there. That element is that Elon Musk is a wonderful entertainer and story teller. He’s freakin’ funny, and adorably candid, open, and stimulating.
As a sociologist by training, I do find this whole aspect of the Tesla story fascinating. No doubt about it, Tesla wouldn’t have sold as many cars as it has without that secret sauce. And the social movement aspect of Tesla, and Elon Musk’s whole life, could be the subject of a long book. Further, that element is often present with big tech shifts — look at Apple and Steve Jobs, or … hmm, maybe it’s not actually that common.
At the end of the story, the catalyst for a big tech shift is often the technology itself. You are probably reading this on a tiny, powerful computer called a “phone” because the technologies inside of it were developed consistently over the course of decades and became more and more accessible for normal people — all while doing more and more advanced tasks.