After the last article that I wrote, I told Zach that I intended to write around an article a week. I’ve got a backlog of ideas for articles, and I wanted to be a bit more responsive to breaking news. I feel like a lot of the articles written about electric vehicles right now are of a lower quality. I wanted to do some research to really help put some of those articles into perspective, and hopefully give people some more data to draw their own conclusions.
It’s been a bit over three weeks since that article.
To be fair to myself, I was trying to remain topical. In doing so, I came to an important realization. Before I get there, though, I want to highlight just a few of the latest headlines about Tesla recently…
- SEC charges Elon Musk with fraud, sues to have him never in charge of a public company again
- Tesla Software Version 9 videos show auto lane change working
- Tesla starts a beta test program for employees who want to test out their full self driving cars
- Tesla delivery facilities gear up for massive end of quarter push, including many owners volunteering to help
- Elon Musk settles with the SEC, will step down as chairman
- Internal Tesla email states they are close to profitability, and may achieve it this weekend
- Tesla announces they produced more than 80,000 vehicles and delivered more than 83,500 in Q3
- Tesla announces they are accelerating construction of Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai
ALL of these headlines have happened in the past five days! (As of time of writing.)
Which brings me to the point of this short article, something I think is an important point to remember:
All of these headlines deserve to be dug into. A proper discussion of the implications needs either extensive research, of an expert in the field. Almost no reporters (or stock analysts) are experts in these fields, myself included.
Unfortunately, the way the media works in the digital age is that everyone is working to get the scoop, and is often devoting less time to researching what the “scoop” therefore means. I can give you a quick take on a lot of the above articles, but to do it properly takes some real time.
After the SEC charges, I spent some serious time researching prior SEC charges, rumored reasons he chose not to settle, settlement implications, what the SEC probably really wanted out of it, and so on. By midday Saturday, I had constructed what I felt like was a strong argument that Musk hadn’t originally settled due to the implications that would result from him stating he did so purposely to mislead, and the SEC was pushing a larger case because they needed to have a high-profile case against a major company after they looked toothless for barely prosecuting any of the bank CEOs who presided over the mortgage crisis.
For the conclusion of the article, I was going to make the guess that Musk would end up settling with the SEC for a little (in the grand scheme of things) more money than he initially was supposed to pay, and would probably lose his chairmanship of Tesla for a period of time over it.
Damn, I would have looked smart if I would have got that out.
By the time I felt like I had enough information together to sit down and write the article, Musk settled.
My point in all of this is simply the following: When a company is moving as fast as Tesla, it is nearly impossible to cover properly. Writers have the choice of giving their opinion quickly without much research, or spending time researching an article that may be old news before it is ever published. If breaking news seems like it could be complex, take anything that isn’t pure data in that article with a grain of salt.
What is certain is that Tesla is changing the auto industry in ways that are extremely difficult to comprehend. Quick takes on Tesla tend to happen because there is so much news to talk about. Since the company is ultimately so different, there are few true experts. That combination leads to a significant amount of the reporting being low quality. Low-quality reporting helps lead to stock volatility, as the stock price is often based on how someone “feels” about Tesla at any given point in time than actual data about Tesla.
I’m going to do my best to properly research some articles in, even if it means being less timely. While I understand I’m not going to change modern media, I think if we all did this, we’d have a better picture of what is actually going on.