After criticising now-President Donald Trump during the election, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has dome something of a 180-degree turnabout.
He’s joined Trump’s council of business advisors and offered support for probable Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a titan of the very fossil-fuel industry that Musk is determined to leave in the dust of history.
Musk’s switcheroo on Trump was initially puzzling — I’ve argued that there are no two brains on earth more different — but a closer connection between the two men makes strategic sense.
Musk gets to position his futuristic, made-in-USA companies well with the new administration and doesn’t have to be cajoled into hiring US workers; Trump gains leverage with Silicon Valley biggest superstar.
Morgan Stanley lead auto analysts and a big Tesla bull on Wall Street doesn’t think this will have much impact on Tesla as an investment, however.
In a research note published Friday, he wrote: “Elon Musk’s advisory relationship with President Trump may involve opportunities to work with 3 key departments of the US government: Transportation, Energy and Defence. While the extent of such potential work is as yet unknown, it is likely not part of the Tesla investment case.”
And he added:
There is no way to quantify the value (if any) of Tesla management’s advisory relationship with the new administration. And to be clear, we would not expect any favourable treatment towards Tesla Motors regardless of Elon Musk’s position as a strategic economic advisor and one who may provide counsel to the President and his economic team on a regular basis. However, as a highly visible and fast growing US jobs creator with a strong emphasis on domestic manufacturing in value-added sectors, an objective the Trump administration has publicly prioritised, we believe the relationship is significant.
It’s often forgotten that Musk isn’t just a visionary — he’s an opportunist.
With Trump, he may sense that he has the opportunity of his life, for both Tesla and SpaceX. In the case of the latter, as Jonas points out, the payoff is major: a mission to Mars.