Amid the hubbub that accompanied Tesla’s change of company headquarters to its parent company, SpaceX, billionaire founder Elon Musk said that he plans to donate an additional $10 million to a school he has long supported in Montpellier, France — Le Monde reported.
The philanthropy wasn’t a secret, but it was a bit disconcerting to hear the plan to donate his money to such a cause come from Elon Musk — a man who, despite describing himself as a billionaire, routinely shoots down media reports detailing his bank accounts and superinvestments, and who, at times, is perceived as something of a know-it-all and who has been criticized for publicly mismanaging his companies and mismanaging his employees. (Allegedly, he sometimes calls his staff “dogs.”)
Musk wrote in a message on Twitter that he had no need to rebuild the school, which was actually closed down in 2007, but was willing to donate a little extra cash in exchange for its donors to donate more money to the school. (The school lost thousands of students after 2009, when it lost its state funds). That the website is run by a group of people known as L’Heure politique des academies du Montpellier (“Politically Correct Academies of Montpellier”) — whose members include a former Socialist councillor for the city, Pierre Morel — does not inspire confidence.
In May, he revealed that he is selling cars manufactured in the factory of Hong Kong automaker BYD. (The cars are being produced as part of a joint venture between a subsidiary of BYD and Tesla).
There’s been plenty of buzz around the new factory. China may be the largest car market in the world — the country produced 17.58 million vehicles in 2017 — but it produces two-thirds of all automobiles not made in the United States. A recent Wall Street Journal report from Shanghai said the factory, with its annual capacity of 500,000 cars and 500 buses, would help Tesla avoid tariffs when making cars outside of the U.S. It was even meant to be completed before the end of 2018. But there were questions about whether the final 500,000 cars would be made before the end of 2019 — a year, as the Journal reported, in which Tesla also aimed to produce 500,000 cars overall.
If anything, what was real would be clear by June 19, at the earliest.
What about the math? Well, it took just six years for Tesla to receive its $1 billion in seed money from the Russian oil company Rosneft in 2009 — and at that point, Musk had yet to turn the lights on, as The New York Times has chronicled.
Since, he has earned nearly $6 billion. (He doesn’t need to rebuild a French school after all.)
The company moved to a new building at its San Francisco factory in February, which is the result of a $5 billion taxpayer-funded investment. That’s only another 23 months to hit the 500,000 cars and 500 buses mark, assuming it makes sure to do so as planned. (Musk was also supposed to announce the location of the new factory in Shanghai, although, following an initial report from the South China Morning Post, Tesla was quick to claim it had announced that the factory had been chosen by the government and had yet to be finalized.
Nevertheless, don’t expect the CEO of Tesla to be putting the Tesla team in a good mood.
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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