Elon Musk has a lot going on, and it may be coming at the expense of Tesla

Elon Musk's big ambitions may be killing Tesla
Elon Musk's big ambitions may be killing Tesla

Elon Musk has a lot going on. And it may be coming at the expense of his core business — Tesla.

Let's go back to the company's start. Tesla was founded by friends of Musk in 2003, just one year after Musk started SpaceX. But Tesla's mission to bring electric cars to the masses was one he couldn't pass up.

In 2004, he led the company's fundraising efforts as Tesla's chairman.

In 2006, Musk invested $10 million in his cousin's solar energy company, SolarCity. And Tesla unveiled the first Roadster model. It was touted as a symbol of the future of "green" sports cars, but Musk had an even bigger vision for the brand. Just days after the Roadster unveiling, he revealed his master plan for the company.

He wanted to build more affordable cars and use Tesla to co-market other sustainable energy products.

Like solar panels from SolarCity.

SolarCity Corp. employees unload solar panels from a truck
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

So at this point, Musk was running SpaceX during the day, coming up with Tesla's business and product strategy on the side and managing a multimillion-dollar investment in Solar City.

In 2008, Musk had taken over Tesla Motors as CEO, and Tesla Roadsters had hit the production line. But the company wasn't immune to the financial crisis. With literally minutes left to spare on Christmas Eve, Musk secured enough money to keep the company afloat.

In 2010, Tesla went public, and Musk's ambitions continued to grow.

In 2012, his net worth hit $1 billion.

And in 2013, Musk unveiled a design for a new kind of transportation system called Hyperloop. It would use vacuum tubes to suck pods containing passengers at speeds of up to 600 mph. Although Musk didn't create a company, engineers from Tesla and SpaceX teamed up to release the designs publicly.

By this point, he was juggling SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity and the Hyperloop project.

Source: Hyperloop One

The electric car company had its first profitable quarter in 2013. That wouldn't happen again until 2016. Meanwhile, he continued to add new projects to his plate.

Toward the end of 2015, he co-founded a research group called OpenAI, which was meant to research and promote artificial intelligence projects to benefit all of mankind. He pledged $1 billion to the project. (He eventually stepped down this year.)

In 2016, Musk founded Neuralink, which is trying to find a way for computers to interact directly with the human brain, and the Boring Company, which is building tunnels to transport people and cargo using another proposed new technology — electric sleds.

That was also the year Tesla made a bid for SolarCity. The deal was done by early 2017.

So by then, Musk had a say in seven major projects.

That was also the year when his responsibilities with Tesla really began piling up. The Gigafactory in Nevada started battery cell production. Tesla also started producing the Model 3, which is meant to prove it can become a mass-market automaker.

Meanwhile, Tesla began rebuilding Puerto Rico's power grid and built the world's largest lithium-ion battery, while Musk began digging with the Boring Company and sold out of custom-made hats and flamethrowers.

But when it came to Tesla's earnings, they were dubbed mostly "disappointing." Analysts ramped up their criticism, and some even questioned if the company is "a Ponzi scheme."

And after the company fired hundreds of workers, it faced a complaint from the United Auto Workers. Musk said "production hell" is coming, and some of his factory workers seem to agree. Tesla has faced multiple reports of abusive factory conditions. Not to mention the repeated missed Model 3 production targets.

In 2018, Musk launched a car into space. But there's still a lot going on back at Tesla. The company is struggling to keep up with its production goals.


After temporarily halting production, Tesla announced it will run the assembly line 24/7 to meet its Model 3 targets. Musk has promised a car that can drive itself across the United States by the end of this year, and said that Tesla will be profitable in the third and fourth quarters. It's also facing lawsuits and allegations of misleading investors and employee discrimination.

But Musk is setting his goals even higher.

As of mid-April, Tesla had a market cap of around $50 billion. And over the next 10 years, Musk expects it to rise to $650 billion.

So for now, it looks like Musk isn't slowing down. And that could make for a rocky relationship between Tesla, Wall Street and Musk's grand vision for the future.