Tesla CEO Elon Musk has demanded that a viral video showing several of his company’s electric cars running over child-sized mannequins be taken down from YouTube and other sites. The video, uploaded by YouTuber Casey Neistat, shows the mannequins – which he describes as realistic looking models of children – being run over repeatedly by Tesla vehicles in different settings, including one at a skate park, and another on the street outside the home of Musk himself.
Is this what we want from our entrepreneurs?
This week, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, demanded a viral video made by a Tesla owner to show his car running over mannequin children. The Tesla owner refuses, saying that he doesn’t want anything to do with hitting kids. It seems that instead of being an inspirational story about the company’s amazing design and production capabilities, this incident reveals what many people have always thought: Elon Musk is immature and unprofessional. He is not an example we should want as our next Steve Jobs. Who would invest in a company where the CEO openly admits to dealing with problems like this by behaving in such irrational ways?
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How did we get here?
Elon Musk had previously shared a video showing a Tesla car in Autopilot mode on the US highways colliding with two child mannequins which he called morally wrong.
Tesla demand to take down the video reportedly followed Tesla supporter Mike Melvill’s fund $300,000 reward to any organization that would publish such videos.
The video was posted by Richard Windsor, who describes himself as an ex-hedge fund professional and a managing director at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo. Windsor is also involved in a bitter legal battle with Tesla after he released confidential information. The post has since been removed by YouTube.
What would Steve Jobs Do?
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs would likely have responded to the video taker and said, this has gone too far. Instead, he would work with him to find out how they could delete the video but still save face. He probably would not force Tesla to do something they don’t want and cause a rift in their relationship, as Tesla is one of Apple’s top investors. Jobs also had great PR skills and knew what it took to turn around public perception. When his company faced bad publicity over working conditions in China factories, for example, he opened up dialogue about that issue with the media and sought solutions to improve them.
Elon vs Austin… Round One?
Austin has been an outspoken critic of Tesla and its leadership, not too long ago calling Elon out for publicly making false claims about Austin’s agreement. Now it looks like he may be about to get into a Twitter war with him. After recently making a public request for video footage of Tesla cars crashing into a large group of child-sized mannequins, Elon asked the maker to take the video down. It seems Austin was behind the filming and had funded it with his own money. Rather than complying with Elon’s demand, Austin responded saying sorry but noted that Elon is apparently a major wuss. Looks like we might just see these two CEOs trade barbs on social media in near future.
Final Thoughts – Who Wins This Round?
Both Tesla and Neeraj Mehta have shared their side of the story, with Tesla claiming that it is attempting to prevent misuse and Mehta claiming that he just wanted to promote Tesla because he liked them. I can’t tell who’s being more selfish here, as both parties claim that they are acting in their own best interests. Nonetheless, if one person deserves sympathy for taking things too far, it is Mehta because we have yet to hear his true intentions behind creating the video. Regardless, it was not fair for him to create a situation where a child could get harmed while in pursuit of gaining publicity for his business. There are other ways to go about trying to gain success without potentially endangering anyone else along the way.