The Rise & Reign of Salesman in Technology
Let me start by saying that the points expressed in this piece might seem extreme for many people, yet this opinion needs to be put in the public domain.
Winners take it allculture has made sure that the leadership and authority will be dangerously concentrated in the hands of very few people. Silicon Valley and Wall Street, despite of their differences amd ambitions, have worked out a strategy which suited them so far.
Let's take a look at Tesla and the case of Elon Musk. Elon Musk considered the best entrepreneur of this decade (founded or co-founded firms like Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity, PayPal ) is ideal for most engineers as his firms are aimed at solving modern-day challenges for a society like green energy, transportation, space exploration, etc… I sincerely and wholeheartedly appreciate his efforts to make this world a better place, I would still use my judgment before elevating them to the equivalent of tech-gods.
Here are some questions for which I’m still looking for answers
- Does the carbon footprint of a tesla (in its lifecycle) less than that of a conventional IC engine automobile. We can't just look at the fact that tesla runs on battery and IC engine runs on gas, the carbon footprint of the entire components of the car needs to be vetted before any claim is made.
- The best and proven metric of reducing carbon credential is actually improving public transportation. No, I’m not talking about hyperloop. The traditional public transit system like metro stations/ electric buses/ electric trains are the most carbon-effective transportations in case some Tesla fans might be wondering. However, instead of attacking the problem at the root, Tesla is focused on delivering luxury vehicles that use electricity mostly generated from fossil-based power plants to be stored in a battery which is very carbon expensive to manufacture and operate.
- Musk’s antics of triggering the stock market might seem like a joke to him. But when it comes to financial institutions, everyone should respect the rules of the game as it has the capacity to break or make hardworking people’s finances. You should not poison the well from which you collect water.
- SpaceX and its 42000 Starlink satellites. This is a classic case of exploiting natural resources. If you think of space, it's a resource shared by all living beings on earth. All of us enjoy access to the celestial view of planets, stars, galaxies, etc… All of us have to lose access to our stargazing experience when Musk puts his 42000 satellites around the earth. Presently there is no problem that the Starlink project would solve without a viable earthly option. The cool kids should not consider earthly options but should focus on space.
- The classic case of Musk building rocket ships. Musk does not design or build any of the SpaceX satellites, he co-founded the company. The people who are delivering the actual value were already part of the ecosystem, thanks to NASA. How Apple, Microsoft, and other companies stole engineers from Xerox in the 1970s, most of the space companies are doing the same thing from American taxpayer-funded institutions like NASA, MIT, CalTech, etc… All SpaceX has done so far is to carry payloads for NASA. Elon Musk and others (Bezos) being ambitious entrepreneurs looked at the privatization of the space industry and jumped in without any first-hand experience only because they knew that they could buy the required resources from elsewhere rather than building them.
In most of the scenarios, the skills that actually made him excel in today’s world (compared to others) are his salesman skills. He has used his success in one of his companies as a guarantee to sell ideas to others and attract investors/partners/employees alike irrespective of his own expertise in the field. On a similar note, Bill gates have enjoyed similar fame as a software genius while the actual contributor to his success in Microsoft was his salesman skills which provided the first OS to IBM sourced from a Seattle-based engineer. I did not include the engineer his name to prove a point that people like him never see the recognition they deserve. Most of the actual work is done by engineers/scientists, project/program managers, and yet they hardly receive any considerable recognition. The tech overlords truly overshadow the ordinary.