Former Tesla President Jon McNeill has addressed concerns from investors regarding Elon Musk’s management of the company, taking the billionaire’s side with pertinent arguments.
Speaking on CNBC‘s Squawk Box, McNeill, who is a venture capitalist and serves on General Motors’ board of directors, dismantled concerns from a recent open letter signed by many notable Tesla shareholders.
One of the main complaints investors voiced in the letter was that Elon Musk doesn’t spend enough time at the helm of Tesla as he also has to manage Twitter and SpaceX. McNeill doesn’t think that’s a real problem, though.
“I don’t think that he’s all that distracted away from the business. On the earnings call, he was answering questions on a really deep level,” McNeill said, suggesting that Musk is on top of things at Tesla. “He’s always got a lot going on, but he is incredible at managing the schedule and staying involved on the key topics,” he added.
The ex-Tesla President added that investors should focus on business performance, which remains a positive aspect of the business in the EV maker’s case.
Tesla has achieved record deliveries yet again in the first quarter of the year, and its profit margins are the envy of the industry, despite six waves of price cuts applied since January.
Another complaint included in the investors’ letter is that Musk fails to deliver on his promises, mainly when it comes to launching new products and services like the Cybertruck and Full Self-Driving.
McNeill partially agrees with that but makes a very significant distinction, namely that promises are often not fulfilled on time, but they are eventually. “He is good at delivering eventually on promises but not on time,” he said, “and that’s got to be frustrating for customers.”
Jon McNeill also warned that Tesla might not have that luxury of delaying important launches repeatedly because the competition is getting stronger both on the EV side and on the autonomous vehicle side, and Tesla is “feeling that competition, for sure.”
Another interesting topic that was brought up in the letter from investors is talent sharing between Musk’s businesses, including Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter. McNeill noted that this practice has driven some massive breakthroughs in some areas, such as Model Y manufacturing advances implemented by SpaceX materials engineers.