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马斯克如何毁掉了自己的声誉?

为什么埃隆·马斯克迅速沦为人人讥讽的行业笑料?

2018年1月9日,北京中南海紫光阁,特斯拉首席执行官埃隆·马斯克(中间)在等待与中国总理李克强会面时挥手。图片来源:Mark Schiefelbein—Pool/Getty Images

为什么埃隆·马斯克会迅速地从备受尊敬的颠覆性高瞻远瞩人士沦为人人讥讽的行业笑料?

从前的马斯克曾经是一位独行侠,在开创未来方面屡建奇功。他曾经帮助发明了PayPal的在线支付功能。他所执掌的团队在没有寻求底特律汽车产业大佬帮助的情况下打造了一款卓越的电动汽车。他还创建了商业太空探索业务,并展示了如何让住宅太阳能电板业务进入主流市场。诸如此类的事情还有很多很多。

但马斯克所犯的错误也不比其传奇事迹少多少。他杠上了政府监管方,挑起了一场极具破坏力的不必要争斗。有一天他说,特斯拉将关闭其所有展厅。随后《华尔街日报》称,展厅地主并不打算让特斯拉退租。马斯克随即澄清,公司并非要关闭所有的展厅。他曾经宣布了一些自己工厂无法实现的生产目标,然后又重蹈覆辙。Bernstein的分析师托尼·萨科纳吉在抱怨马斯克承诺过的新Model Y两厢车的交付时限时说道:“我们忍不住要问,这一幕难道不觉得眼熟吗?”

乍一看,马斯克展现出了拥有远大理想的经理人以及经验不足的高管所具备的所有特质。这类人会追随潮流,要么是因为这些潮流与自己的怪念头不谋而合,要么因为此举能够掩盖现有的问题。但马斯克并非是新手,他创建的是实实在在的企业。

再者,批评他的人一直在说汽车制造是一项不同的业务。它属于批量生产,需要在资本配置、劳工管理和监管合规方面慎之又慎。借助特斯拉,马斯克和他的同事(千万别忘了,无论光景的好坏,这都不是马斯克一个人的功劳)为世人奉上了当今最伟大的艺术品之一。要想将这项业务转变为一家国际汽车公司,仅靠即兴发挥还远远不够。(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

How is it that Elon Musk has traveled so quickly from slavishly admired disruptive visionary to widely ridiculed industry punchline?

Vintage Musk was the maverick who time and again showed others the future. He helped invent online payments at PayPal. He oversaw a team that built a gorgeous electric car without Detroit’s help. He led the way to commercial space exploration. He showed how the residential solar panel business could go mainstream. The list is endless.

Fumbling Musk’s list of screw-ups is equally long. He picks unnecessary and distracting fights with government regulators. One day he says Tesla will close all its showrooms. Then The Wall Street Journal reports that landlords have no intention of letting Tesla out of its leases. Musk next announces not all the showrooms will close after all. He declares production targets his factories can’t meet. Then he does it again. “We can’t help but wonder whether we’ve seen this movie before,” laments Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi about manufacturing timelines Musk has promised for the new Model Y hatchback.

At first blush, Musk is demonstrating all the attributes of a bright-shiny-objects manager, an inexperienced executive who chases fads either because they suit his whims or because they cover up existing problems. But Musk is no rookie. He has built real businesses.

Then again, his critics always said automobile manufacturing would be different. It’s a mass-production business that requires otherworldly attention to capital allocation, labor management, and regulatory compliance. With Tesla, Musk and his colleagues—it’s always important to remember this isn’t a one-man show, in good times and bad—delivered one of the great artisanal products of our day. Turning that into a global car company requires the types of skills that winging it simply won’t supply.

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