Discuss: Tesla's Elon Musk Is The New Steve Jobs (Merrill Analyst Says)

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'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk on red carpet

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Will the auto industry change more in the next decade than it has in the past century?

We think that's hyperbole. There will be big changes, including the arrival of electric cars in volume, but to say the cars of 2020 will be as different from today's as the cars of today were from those in 1911 ... well, that's a bit of a stretch.

Undaunted by what we might think, Merrill Lynch auto analyst Steve Milunovich has issued a "Buy" recommendation to kick off the firm's coverage of Tesla Motors stock.

In his note, he said, "In our view, CEO Elon Musk may be similar to Steve Jobs in being a technology visionary also able to manage and create shareholder value."

Musk is a serial entrepreneur, running both Tesla and SpaceX, who made his money when Paypal was sold to eBay. He's one of several focuses in the movie Revenge of the Electric Car, and a father of five, among other accomplishments.

But we still think it may be too early to make that comparison. Tesla stock right now is riding on the promise of the all-electric 2012 Model S luxury sports sedan that the company is working furiously to finish and put into production by the end of next year.

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

'Revenge of the Electric Car' premiere: Elon Musk arrives in a Tesla Roadster

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Until that car emerges, and there's a steady stream of customers willing to pay $57,400 or more for it, the Steve Jobs analogy seems a bit premature.

It's also likely, according to industry analysts, that Tesla Motors will not survive as an independent auto company, but will be sold to a larger automaker within the next few years.

Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] stock opened this morning at $25.44. It entered the market at $17 last June, and has stayed above that price since then. Mikunovich has a target price of $35 on the stock.

So what do you think? Is Elon Musk the equivalent of Apple's Steve Jobs?

Tell us your thoughts in the Comments below.

[Forbes via BusinessInsider]


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Comments (8)
  1. Not really. He's pretty smart and definitely great at self-promotion like Jobs. But it seems that Apple, and the philosophy behind Apple, is more substantial. And Apple actually WAS Steve Jobs' idea. Whereas Tesla WAS NOT Elon's idea. The entire business plan, including the Model S, was written by a completely different team of people - it was their vision, not Elon's. Same deal with PayPal. But Elon is pretty good at revisionist history and maybe that's all that counts.

  2. Actually, Musk is far more innovative than Jobs. Jobs basically took an MP3 player and bundled it with accessibility. He created no new device then, nor with his iPad, which had appeared years before. With iPad, it is clearly seen in reduced iPod and iPhone sales that each successive product he came out with was more or less simply an elaboration made possible by advancing electronic capabilities. Jobs never came up with any idea that one could honestly say was impressive - he simply knew how to retail when others didn't. Musk's PayPal idea was close to brilliant - I still think of it as one of the few really good ideas to appear on the internet. Then came spacecraft and the first modern, practical EVs. Enormous breadth of vision from Musk.

  3. I think Jobs deserves a little more credit than that. He did a lot of the early work with Apple, created NeXT Computer, pushed Pixar forward, and has overseen the ipod, ipad, itunes (largest seller of music in the usa), etc.

  4. Are you forgetting the entire history of Apple before the iPod?

  5. @Kent. Apparently, you're completely and blissfully unaware that Apple existed long before the iPod and iPad. Jobs had far more creative input than Musk has on an EV that he was never part of the development of. I certainly have respect for Musk, but Jobs created a stunningly innovative operating system (with others like Steve W. to some degree)for computers, not bundled an MP3 player.
    As for creating practical EVs? Yeah, at $110k for a low-volume glider Tesla didn't even develop and Tesla bleeding money like crazy now, check back with us on practicality in 2-3 years when the Model S is out. I hope Tesla makes it but I strongly doubt it.

  6. Tesla is not bleeding money. Tesla is spending this money wisely and carefully in developing (quickly) the best new cars of the future and redefining how the auto industry sells cars to consumers! This is truly transformational stuff Tesla is doing. These changes are definitely on par with what Apple has done. That is where Tesla is now, this is why people don't understand them, because Tesla isn't fully developed yet. Tesla is spurring innovation in the auto market like Apple did for mobile computing. Starting with an extremely expensive product to SHOW it works and works. Check out my EV journey blog: http://thespeculativetechinvestor.blogspot.com/

  7. I think the comparison with Jobs has some merit. The creation of PayPal, and SpaceX, and shepherding of Tesla are all huge accomplishments. Any one of those accomplishment on its own would be a big deal.

  8. I don't think that Steve Jobs would have been where he is today if he sold a handful of product at about half the price it cost to build which is more or less where Elon Musk is at this point. Hopefully the Model S will turn things around but it will take a major breakthrough in battery technology to make him the Steve Jobs of the automotive industry. Anyway, his role in Tesla already earned him a place in the history books, not a bad way to spend a couple of hundred million easy gained bucks.

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