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Tesla Needs More Musk Focus, Ex-Board Member Says

Steve Westly says Tesla needs more of CEO Elon Musk’s dedicated focus during this crucial period
May 23, 2024

As the electric vehicle industry faces a pivotal moment, Tesla could benefit from a more concentrated effort from its high-profile CEO, Elon Musk. Former Tesla board member Steve Westly voiced his concerns on Thursday at the annual VivaTech conference in Paris, highlighting the need for Musk to narrow his focus to steer Tesla through current challenges.

"For any CEO of a leading company, it's crucial to be laser-focused on your core business. Right now, it seems Mr. Musk is spread too thin," Westly. He pointed out that Musk’s divided attention is a factor in why Tesla is trailing behind its peers in the "Magnificent Seven," a group of tech giants excelling in the market. Westly urged Musk to take a page from Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang's playbook, whose unwavering focus has driven exceptional results for Nvidia.

"Look at Jensen Huang, arguably the best CEO today, delivering outstanding performance through sheer focus. Tesla could greatly benefit from a similar approach," said Westly, managing director of venture capital firm The Westly Group and an early investor in Tesla.

Tesla has been grappling with various issues, including staff layoffs and controversies over Musk's compensation, which have only added to the distractions. The company's recent revenue miss has raised concerns about its performance, with Westly suggesting that Tesla has "lost ground."

Despite these challenges, Westly remains optimistic about Tesla's potential, particularly with the planned release of a $25,000 low-cost model by early 2025. He acknowledged Musk's impressive track record and advised against underestimating the entrepreneur. "Don’t bet against the guy; he’s got a pretty good track record," Westly noted.

Tesla's recent disappointments include the largest quarterly revenue decline since 2012 and a significant reduction in staff. These setbacks come as Musk juggles multiple ventures, including SpaceX, X, Neuralink, and The Boring Company, stirring debate over his $56 billion Tesla pay package.

The timing of Tesla's slowdown is critical, with the electric vehicle market becoming increasingly competitive and a brewing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. President Joe Biden recently imposed 100% tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles, aiming to curb what he described as China "dumping" cheap products into the American market.

Tesla's current situation underscores the need for focused leadership as it navigates these industry and market pressures. While challenges abound, the potential for innovation and growth remains strong, provided the company can channel its efforts effectively.

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