Welcome to Musklandia: Austin adjusts to life with Tesla and its eccentric billionaire boss Elon Musk


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Welcome to life in Musklandia.

As Elon Musk’s sphere of affect in Austin and throughout Texas appears to broaden by the day, the eccentric Texas-based billionaire is taking the area and the state alongside on the wild and sometimes bizarre roller-coaster trip that’s his life.

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It’s been a bit greater than a month since Musk introduced Oct. 7 that Tesla is transferring its headquarters to Austin, however even earlier than that, Musk was already spending an growing period of time in Austin. He has been transferring extra of his firms into the area since at the very least 2020, most notably with Tesla’s $1.1 billion manufacturing facility at the moment being inbuilt southeastern Travis County.

As Austin turns into floor zero for all issues Musk, that leaves the remainder of us determining the right way to navigate the brand new panorama—good, dangerous and odd.

“Musk is a modern-day Albert Einstein in the eyes of many, and the richest person in the world by a wide margin. He’s going to bring a lot more limelight and focus on Austin,” mentioned Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities.

Musk and Austin are more likely to turn out to be inextricably linked within the coming years, Ives mentioned.

“When the average person in the world thinks Austin, Texas, they’re not going to the music festival or Dell or for the great city it is. Tesla and Elon Musk are going to become synonymous with Austin,” Ives mentioned.

Roger Kay, an analyst with Endpoint Technologies, mentioned Musk’s standing and character are certain to have an effect on Central Texas.

“He’s the richest guy in the world, which is interesting. So what he’ll do immediately is upstage (Dell Technologies founder and CEO) Michael Dell, at least on that,” Kay mentioned. “Michael has been the kind of king of Austin, I would say, all up until this point.”

Expanding presence

While the $1.1 billion Tesla manufacturing facility and Tesla’s deliberate headquarters transfer to Austin have drawn probably the most consideration, Musk’s ventures have been quietly increasing in Central Texas for a while now. They embody Musk’s tunneling and infrastructure firm, the Boring Co., which has services in Pflugerville and Bastrop; a possible SpaceX enlargement someplace in Austin; a possible Neuralink workplace; and the headquarters of his non-public basis, the Musk Foundation.

Also, a Tesla subsidiary, Tesla Energy, was lately licensed to function as an vitality supplier in Texas, in accordance with paperwork filed with the Texas Public Utility Commission. The firm is already constructing the primary Tesla solar neighborhood in Austin, known as SunHouse at Easton Park, with solar- and alternative-powered vitality.

Meanwhile, SpaceX—Musk’s aerospace and rocket firm—has a number of services round Texas, together with a launch web site close to Boca Chica in far South Texas.

What’s not clear is whether or not Musk has a residence in Austin. Although varied media shops have listed Austin as his dwelling, he has by no means publicly confirmed that. Musk introduced final 12 months that he had moved to Texas however mentioned his most important residence is a small dwelling close to Boca Chica on the SpaceX campus.

Whether Musk truly lives in Austin or not, his affect in and affect on Central Texas cannot be denied.

Kay mentioned the inflow of Tesla and different Musk-related firms will result in increased salaries within the native tech trade, in addition to add to the area’s already booming housing market and ship actual property costs even increased.

“For some people there will be good opportunities. Other people,” Kay mentioned, “are going to be irritated.”

‘Most highly effective voice on the planet’

One of the locations the place Musk has drawn probably the most consideration—and maybe created probably the most irritation— has been on social media. Musk is energetic on Twitter, the place he has greater than 63 million followers.

With his immense wealth and such an enormous viewers, the affect of what Musk posts on social media should not be downplayed, Ives mentioned.

“He is one of, if not the most powerful voice in the world in terms of social media and a following,” Ives mentioned. “If Musk talks, everyone’s listening. When you’re on the right side of that, it’s great. When you’re on the wrong side of that, it’s a lot of downsides.”

Few days go by with out Musk making some type of headline on social media, whether or not or not it’s for firm information, cryptic private statements, political commentary or simply posting a meme.

One instance was early final week, as after polling his Twitter followers on whether or not he ought to promote 10% of his Tesla inventory, Musk offered about 900,000 shares, netting over $1.1 billion. His belief additionally offered greater than 3.5 million shares price $3.88 billion. The inventory choices that had been offered would expire subsequent 12 months and nonetheless depart Musk with about 170 million Tesla shares.

More gross sales later within the week, from each Musk and his belief, have introduced the total inventory offered to six.4 million shares, price a total of $6.9 billion. The gross sales thus far quantity to lower than 4% of the shares he holds.

Ives mentioned that whereas a sale of some inventory has been anticipated to pay upcoming taxes, holding a Twitter ballot to promote the inventory is “another soap opera that can only happen to one company and one CEO in the world, Musk.”

Here are just a few extra highlights and lowlights from Musk on social media up to now month:

  • Over the weekend, he clashed with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Twitter after the previous presidential candidate from Vermont mentioned the extraordinarily rich ought to pay their justifiable share. Musk tweeted: “I keep forgetting that you’re still alive,” and later added, “Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word …”
  • He criticized Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard, with whom he has feuded for years, on Twitter. He claimed to “wish he never met” the co-founder, whom he considers the “worst person I’ve ever worked with in my entire career,” and mentioned that Eberhard “came damn close to killing Tesla.”
  • He tweeted a crass remark at Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden after the politician tweeted in assist of a billionaires revenue tax and mentioned Musk paying taxes should not be depending on a Twitter ballot.
  • He quickly modified his Twitter title to Lord Edge, seemingly a reference to the phrase “edge lord.”
  • He tweeted a joke that he was contemplating beginning a brand new college in Texas, whose title might be used to type a impolite acronym.
  • He acknowledged on Twitter that Tesla’s self-driving was having software program points and introduced that an replace can be rolled again after Tesla house owners reported vehicles behaving erratically.
  • He pushed again on President Joe Biden’s proposed tax plan, dubbed the Billionaires Income Tax, which might add a tax on the belongings, not revenue, of billionaires. “Eventually, they run out of other people’s money, and then they come for you,” Musk tweeted on the identical day he gained $36 billion in private wealth from the Tesla inventory surge.
  • He known as Biden a “puppet” for the United Auto Workers union and pushed again on his plan for electric-vehicle buy tax credit proposed within the president’s infrastructure invoice. The plan would exclude nonunion automakers, corresponding to Tesla.
  • He exchanged tweets with David Beasley, director of the U.N.’s World Food Program, who urged Musk to donate 2% of his estimated web price, or about $6 billion, to assist battle world starvation. Musk mentioned if this system laid out an in depth plan for the way precisely the $6 billion can be used and the donation went by means of open supply accounting, he would donate. Beasley mentioned that was doable, and he would meet him anyplace, “earth or space,” to debate additional. No donation has been made.

While most of that social media exercise hasn’t targeted straight on Austin or Texas, there are indicators Musk is beginning to take extra of an curiosity in what is going on on within the Lone Star State.

‘Going to be some ruffled feathers’

When Musk introduced he was transferring Tesla’s headquarters to Austin, he did not point out earlier clashes he’d had with California officers. However, trade analysts say that whereas Austin is extra reasonably priced than Silicon Valley and nonetheless has the tech and engineering expertise Musk wants for his firms, it appears clear he determined he most popular Texas’ extra business-friendly setting over California’s extra regulation-heavy strategy.

“I think Musk selected Texas in particular because of its kind of frontier style. He’s always thought that California’s heavy regulatory environment was not particularly conducive to his style,” Kay mentioned. “He’s made it really clear that he doesn’t think public authorities have any business telling him what to do.”

All of which suggests officers in Texas—and in Austin—might finally discover themselves getting the identical pushback California did from Musk if regulatory situations rub him the fallacious approach.

Musk tends to do what he desires and is intelligent and aggressive in how he goes about disputes, Kay mentioned. At the identical time, he’ll deliver plenty of jobs and tax income to the area, which provides him playing cards to play.

“He’ll say, ‘Well, listen, you want me to just pick up stakes and go to Mississippi?'” Kay mentioned. “There’s probably going to be some ruffled feathers there when he says, ‘It’s my way or the highway and now I own your highway, You can’t say anything about it. You do—well, then I’ll bring all my resources to bear upon you.'”

It stays to be seen how Musk would possibly intention to affect state or native policymaking.

In September, Gov. Greg Abbott mentioned that Musk supported Texas’ social insurance policies. In response, Musk tweeted: “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”

However, Musk has weighed in on some Austin political points already.

“Austin should be its city, not a San Francisco copycat,” Musk mentioned in a Halloween tweet replying to a tweet about Proposition A, which did not move earlier this month. The proposition would have required the town of Austin to rent lots of extra cops.

Whatever positions Musk takes, they’re certain to have affect in Austin, throughout the state and globally, Ives mentioned—largely due to Musk’s immense wealth and the ability that affords him.

Musk lately grew to become the primary particular person within the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to have an estimated web price of greater than $300 billion, making him not solely the wealthiest particular person within the nation but additionally the richest particular person in historical past. Musk’s present estimated web price is someplace between $280 billion and $300 billion.

Having Musk and Tesla right here comes with “exponentially more positives than negatives for Austin,” Ives mentioned. “But Austin has to embrace Tesla and Elon, and not just treat him like any other business person. There are 300 billion reasons he’s not.”

After Twitter poll, CEO Musk sells off $5B in Tesla shares

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Welcome to Musklandia: Austin adjusts to life with Tesla and its eccentric billionaire boss Elon Musk (2021, November 18)
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