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The Wall Street Journal
Print Date: July 31, 2021

Inside the 2018 Scramble to Avoid the Collapse of Tesla
“Is Vegas on the line?” Elon Musk asked on one of his nightly calls with his sales staff in September of 2018.

Las Vegas was. Cayle Hunter, just nine months into his job overseeing a sales team from an office not far from the Strip, waited eagerly for Mr. Musk’s next question.

“How many people did you sign up for pickup today?” asked Mr. Musk.

This was Mr. Hunter’s big moment: His team had scheduled 1,700 people to pick up their Model 3s in the coming days—a record—and he was proud to announce the achievement. The compact Model 3 was Mr. Musk’s bet-the-company shot at transforming Tesla into a mainstream auto maker and ushering in a new era of electric vehicles—and at that moment, Tesla needed to move thousands of them to stay afloat.

Mr. Hunter had set a record, but Mr. Musk wasn’t happy. The Tesla chief executive ordered Mr. Hunter to more than double the number the next day or else he’d personally take over.

There was more. Mr. Musk said he’d heard that Mr. Hunter’s team had been relying on phone calls to schedule car pickups. That stopped now. Nobody likes talking on the phone, Mr. Musk said; it takes up too much time. Text customers instead. That would be faster. If he heard about any calls being made the next day, Mr. Hunter was fired.

Mr. Hunter’s wife and children had only recently joined him in Las Vegas; they had just finished unpacking their boxes. Now Mr. Musk was threatening to fire him if he didn’t do the impossible in 24 hours.

Tesla was 15 years old, and it was running out of time and money.
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Note:

(Article) is adapted from the book “Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century.” Offered numerous opportunities to comment on specific details, anecdotes and characterizations in the book—including those in this excerpt—Mr. Musk responded: “Most, but not all, of what you read in this book is nonsense.” Mr. Musk didn’t elaborate and didn’t respond to additional requests for comment on this excerpt.








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Mr. Musk responded: “Most, but not all, of what you read in this book is nonsense.” Mr. Musk didn’t elaborate and didn’t respond to additional requests for comment on this excerpt.
No surprise. Most, but not all, of what Tesla represents is nonsense too.
 

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