Elon Musk: Henry Ford 2.0?

This morning’s Observer column:

Enormous wealth, like power, acts as an aphrodisiac that warps people’s perceptions of those who possess it: it’s as if they’re surrounded by a reality distortion field. Similar force fields have enveloped Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in their time and now it’s Musk’s turn. Because he’s uncommonly voluble on social media, especially on Twitter, where he has 65.7 million followers, his every utterance is assiduously parsed by besotted fans (all of whom call him “Elon”, as if he were a buddy of theirs). This gives him an influence way beyond that of any other corporate executive, influence that, on some occasions, even affects global financial markets through what the normally sober Financial Times calls the “Tesla-financial complex”. A closer examination of his Twitter feed, though, yields an impression of a really complex individual: a baffling combination of formidable intelligence and ungovernability – part visionary, part genius, part fruitcake and part exploiter of tax loopholes and public subsidies. And it raises the question: what (or where) is the real Elon Musk?

The answer, I suspect, lies in his mastery of the business of manufacturing complex products…

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