Survey says: Elon Musk is still the most admired tech leader among founders


Twenty-three percent of founders surveyed said they admired the Tesla and SpaceX CEO more than any other executive.

Elon Musk beat out Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs as the most admired tech leader among 700 founders surveyed by VC firm First Round Capital. 23 percent of founders wrote in the SpaceX and Tesla CEO’s name when asked who they admired the most, 10 percent said Bezos, 6 percent said Zuckerberg, and only 5 percent of respondents wrote in Jobs.

(That’s a lot compared to the mere 1 percent who wrote in Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg — the most cited female among founders.)

The survey was published on Thursday just weeks after Tesla reported a relatively stellar quarter for only the second time in its history as a public company. Musk is certainly nothing if not ambitious, but it is exactly his lofty ambitions that often get the better of him.

Tesla has a track record of consistently missing production and shipping deadlines for its vehicles. (See: example A; example B) The company has since ramped up its production and says its still on track to meet its goal of shipping 50,000 cars in the second half of 2016. But Musk has another aggressive goal he set for himself: begin production on the upwards of 300,000 pre-ordered Model 3s by the end of 2017.

At the unveiling earlier this year, Musk said he was confident the Tesla will be able to begin production as planned. But it’s the first time the company has had to produce and distribute a vehicle at this volume. Tesla’s luxury vehicles — the Roadster, the Model S and the Model X — have all been low-volume businesses and intentionally so.

Even when preorders were just at 198,000, Musk suggested the company will have to change how it plans to build the car:

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But forgetting Musk’s earthly ambitions, the SpaceX CEO wants to begin colonizing Mars by 2024. In fact, Musk hopes he can send the first unmanned crew to the red planet by 2018. But just weeks after the executive revealed some of the details of how he planned to do that, one of SpaceX’ rockets exploded and the company is still not sure why.

The company did just announce plans to launch the first rocket since the explosion on December 16.

That said, SpaceX has been striking deals with NASA left and right to do things like launch satellites that will monitor the earth’s surface water and in turn climate change. It’s a doubly important task for the company because for one, Donald Trump wants to defund any climate change efforts and two, the money from the NASA deal could go toward funding Musk’s Mars ambitions.

This is all to say sure, Elon Musk is ambitious, admirable even. But like all mere mortals, he has his failings.

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