Tesla’s Q2 earnings call last night, Elon Musk taunted his competitors, laughing out loudat an analysts’ question about the BMW i3.
“I’m glad to see that BMW is bringing an electric car to market,” Musk said giggling. “That’s cool. There’s room to improve on the i3 and I hope that they do.”
And then there was more laughter… for a while.
It was obvious that he actually didn’t think it (the i3) was that “cool”, or that BMW was that “cool” for that matter. What Musk was doing was trolling — it was a CEO troll.
Now if a Wall Street CEO did something like that, people wouldn’t be saying ‘oh that eccentric genius.. he can do the impossible, anything even… what’s a little giggle?’
No, if Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was on a conference call and laughed at the idea that, say, Wells Fargo was trying to build up a serious sales and trading division you can already cue the etiquette alarms.
In fact, back in February, JP Morgan’s CEO Jamie Dimon took some heat for unprofessional conduct during a Q&A session. Rolling Stone called him obnoxious for answering an analysts’ question by saying “that’s why I’m richer than you.”
And maybe he was being obnoxious. The point is, he got called out on it. Musk was on an earnings call, not a school yard. If CEOs want to make fun of people (or companies), they should save it for a more private moment. Trolling just makes them (or anyone) look immature.
Additionally, don’t forget that BMW has made a lot of excellent cars in its history. It’s disrespectful to think they — or any of their peers — couldn’t do it again just because Tesla’s disruptive to the status quo.
Not to get all Miss Manners on you guys, but seriously, lets keep it together.
Listen to Musk giggle below: