As to what this specifically means with Lattner and Tesla one can only guess. However, looking at Lattner‘s alma mater so to speak, Apple, it’s not too hard to see why there might be a culture clash.
Apple is a company that is willing to push back product launches until they can offer a high-quality product. Tesla is impatient and, when faced with numerous delays, will launch a product before it’s ready.
Apple likes to underpromise and overdeliver. Tesla is famous for overpromising and underdelivering.
Apple has a hard time saying “yes” to new business ideas. Tesla has a hard time saying “no” to new business ideas.
Apple will bend over backwards in the name of customer satisfaction even if it means lower profits. Tesla is willing to damage customer satisfaction if it means their first profitable quarter in years.
These are just a few of the differences that outsiders can easily point out. I’m sure it didn’t take long for Chris to feel like he’d landed on another planet.
Tesla’s Stock Options Are Worthless
But what I find really interesting is that both he and ex-Tesla CFO, Jason Wheeler, left Tesla on the eve of what Elon Musk thinks is their greatest accomplishment. Tesla is about to go mainstream with the launch of the Model 3 and disrupt the automotive world. Or so Musk thinks.
Both Lattner and Wheeler left abruptly. Former Google VP of Finance, Jason Wheeler left in February only days before Tesla’s earnings release. A highly unusual move for a CFO. And Chris Lattner left in the midst of Musk’s big push to make autonomous cars a reality. Lattner had stated when he left Apple that he relished big impossible tasks.
Yet both Wheeler and Lattner essentially voted with their feet that they have no confidence in Tesla. From their insider’s view, their stock options were worthless because the company is going to fail. They also didn’t want their names associated with Tesla any longer. Wheeler didn’t want his name associated with the financial statements and Lattner didn’t want his name associated with the debacle that will be self-driving cars.
This point is especially poignant right now as another product which really did change the world comes up on its tenth anniversary, the iPhone. It seems anyone connected to the iPhone in any way is trying to get their name associated with it. You’d think that perhaps Wheeler and Lattner would want to be able to say in ten years that they were at Tesla in the beginning. But no, they’ve done the opposite. They’ve jumped ship before it sinks.
In Wheeler’s case, perhaps he thought investors are going to get hurt and he didn’t want that on his conscience. That means pensions and 401Ks taking a big hit. But for Chris Lattner, the stakes are much higher. People could potentially get killed. How do you live with that?
Elon Musk appears to be disconnected from reality. He had two guys who were highly successful professionals with proven track records that disagreed with him and now for whatever reason they’re gone. Something is critically wrong in Teslaland.
Now available in iBooks ---> The Tesla Bubble