Tesla Isn't Elon Musk | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Eileen Falkenberg-Hull during a Newsweek episode of The Debate about Elon Musk and Tesla Motors. You can listen to the podcast here:

Can people separate the man from the Tesla Motors? That's going to be the key question going forward. Can people separate Jeff Bezos from Amazon? Can they separate Bill Gates and his affiliation with [Jeffrey] Epstein from Microsoft?
Those are big questions. In a society that is polarized on talking about feelings and emotions, and having companies chime in emotionally with where the political spectrum is, can people separate those things and be okay with that, and still make a purchase? If they can, then they'll be okay with a Tesla.

It's the job of the Board of Directors to really insulate the business from one chaotic member of their team. We see this when you have generational transitions of power within companies — when the owner of a company dies and you have his offspring come in, and the Board looks at them and goes, "oh no, you are not going to run us into the ground." And so, they work to insulate the business. It's strategic. It's chess.

Elon Musk arrives to the Met Gala
Elon Musk said during a podcast appearance that he would fight North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if he was challenged. In this photo, Musk is seen arriving to the 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at the Metropolitan Museum on May 02, 2022 in New York City. Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images

And Elon Musk can be out there being loud, and he can say things that can get Tesla into trouble with the SEC. I would not want to be his attorney, but it's the job of the company and the job of those executives to insulate the company; if not for their own sake, then for the sake of the shareholders. Until you have a shareholder revolt, you're not going to see an anti-Elon revolt within the company. I think a lot of people see Tesla as Elon Musk, but Tesla isn't Elon Musk. Elon Musk is a cog. He's a part of Tesla. He is the visionary. But we in the media are also building him up to be this deity of electric cars and of the future, and that's where the Board and the people at Tesla have to step in if they're not already. I'm sure they are to some extent, but [they must] insulate the company because business ultimately is business.

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull leads the Autos team at Newsweek and is the co-host of the Fast Women Podcast.

The views in this article are the writer's own.