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Tesla is a chain of startups, Elon Musk explains

Matt Burns
·1-min read
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S

Today during a call with investors and journalists, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was asked to expand a tweet from yesterday. In it, he stated: "Tesla should really be thought of as roughly a dozen technology startups, many of which have little to no correlation with traditional automotive companies."

In short, he explained there are over a dozen startups in Tesla, and he views every product line and plant as a startup. It's an interesting point of view from the top of Tesla, a car manufacturing company that also builds batteries, home solar panels and, among other things, is looking to offer car insurance, too.

Outside of vehicle manufacturing, Musk points to insurance when asked about the growth potential. He says the insurance business could grow into 30-40% of Tesla’s car business.

This strategy seemingly works well for Tesla, which constantly rolls out updates to existing products at an unusual pace. New features arrive without much warning, and it makes sense when Tesla is treating different vehicle component divisions as a collection of companies instead of a collection of divisions.

According to Musk, some of the so-called startups include autonomy, chip design, vehicle service, sales, designing a drive unit, motors, supercharger network and, soon, insurance.

"The thing people don't understand about Tesla is [the company] is a whole chain of startups," Musk said. "And then people say, 'well, you didn't do that before.' Yeah, well, we're doing it now. I think we may have been a bit slower than other startups, but I don’t think we’ve really had anything fail."

He concluded there are no plans to spin out any business, noting there's no need to add complexity.