That’s an interesting take, and more or less I agree.
(Probably an old story coming…) Years ago, I worked for a guy who was the quintessential wheeler-dealer type. Brilliant guy. Natural deal maker. Started out making a fortune in natural gas, then went on from there.
He was truly amazing. Just had a nose for opportunity. Money flowed his way like you wouldn’t believe.
At some point in the mid-90’s, he read the tea leaves and decided that ethanol was the business to be in. So he started working on building an ethanol business. He had enough juice so that the next thing I know, I’m in meetings with him with some of the industry’s biggest hitters…like the chairman of ADM, the son of the (at the time) second richest man in America, etc.
Very heady stuff.
And almost 100% bullshit. The intrinsic economics of ethanol were horrible. There was no real money to be made there. The whole thing was a play for artificial subsidies put in place by governments at multiple levels.
The moment I fully realized what game we were playing was the moment I decided to quit.
My idea of “business” is fundamentally different. I have a reflexive bristle when you realize that someone’s business model is all about “chase subsidies” and not about “serve the public”.
In that way, the name “Elon Musk” gives me a bit of a bristle.
At the same time, I have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished. Even as I continue to believe that electric cars are ultimately going to prove to be a technological dead end.
So it all comes down to a multi-level analysis. Do I wish that the subsidies that Elon Musk chased didn’t exist? Yes. Do I respect Elon Musk for his achievements? Yes. Do I think Elon Musk would have done well even in a subsidy-free environment? Yes.