We all know of revolutionary thinkers who seem to have an unlimited supply of genius. They’re wildly eccentric, but there’s one problem: They are not good at running businesses.
One example is America’s fast food king, McDonald’s. The McDonald brothers’ innovations changed the way Americans eat, but they didn’t do anything with it.
Enter Ray Kroc. He saw potential and made McDonald’s what it is today.
In the tech space, Microsoft perfected ideas from others and created a well-oiled software and cloud-based machine.
And this argument highlights why Tesla’s electric vehicle innovations may not be enough to carry it to future success.
Here are some of the highlights from my conversation with Money & Markets research analyst Matt Clark.
Charles: Revolutionary thinkers are great at coming up with ideas, but executing is a different deal. You need a different personality for that.
Let’s look at Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT).
Microsoft Doesn’t Innovate, It Executes
Charles: We use Microsoft products every day. I use Windows PCs and Microsoft Office in all aspects of my life. These are not original products. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates never had a unique idea in his life.
The very first thing that he sold was DOS. Before we had Windows, we had DOS, for the old timers out there like us. Gates didn’t write it. Some other programmer wrote DOS. He just bought it and then promptly resold it to IBM. And that was the start of Microsoft.
Microsoft Windows started out as a cheap copy of the Macintosh. Gates saw what Apple was up to and said, “I want that.” He copied it, for all intents and purposes. Windows went on to bury Apple in the 1980s and ‘90s.
Apple had this revolutionary idea of the personal computer — taking it out of the laboratory and into someone’s house. Apple made it user-friendly with its interface and mouse. And then Microsoft comes and just blows them out of the water by being brutally efficient with it.
Today, Microsoft is primarily a cloud company. They ripped off that idea from Amazon. Microsoft isn’t Luke Skywalker, it’s Darth Vader. It isn’t this spark of hope and newness. It just comes and takes over.
But that’s great. If you invested in Microsoft at any point in the last 20 years, you are sitting pretty right now.
Innovation, Elon Musk and Tesla
Matt: When you say EV, or electric vehicles, to someone…
Charles: Tesla comes to mind.
Matt: Odds are, the first thing that comes to their mind is Tesla. However, that doesn’t make it the best EV company out there.
Charles: Yeah. And it goes beyond EVs. Tesla’s also a leading artificial intelligence company … autonomous driving, all of that futuristic car stuff.
Space X isn’t Tesla, but it’s Elon Musk. And at this point, can you distinguish Elon Musk from Tesla?
Every sci-fi nerd like me that grew up watching Star Trek wanted to grow up to be Elon Musk. The guy made a cameo in the Big Bang Theory for crying out loud.
But all of that innovation, that spark, all of the things that make him interesting don’t make him a good manager. If you look at how he runs Tesla, it’s almost like a toy for him. He just likes to have fun with it. I don’t think that serves the Tesla shareholders that well.
I think, over time, Tesla is going to lose relevance. Major automakers are already gunning for it.
Out Tesla, Tesla
Adam O’Dell and I focused on this in our monthly newsletter, Green Zone Fortunes. We looked for a massive macro theme that’s going to be around for a while. Electric vehicles and autonomous driving are going to be a major innovation for decades.
What’s the best way to play it?
We looked at Tesla Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), and we said, “absolutely not.” Tesla does not meet our criteria. The stock price, who knows? It may double from here. It may triple. It may go up by a factor of 10 or go down to zero. But it doesn’t meet any of the fundamental criteria we look for.
Tesla is not profitable. That’s a big problem. A company at this stage of development should be turning a decent profit by now. And it isn’t. It’s never been able to produce at scale. It has trouble meeting deadlines. It hasn’t done all the things you need a world-class company to do. So we looked elsewhere.
We found a traditional automaker that we believe is going to beat the pants off of Tesla. We think it is going to emerge as the king of electric vehicles and autonomous driving. We think this company is going to essentially out-Tesla, Tesla. Not because it’s original. It’s not. Tesla was the original EV revolutionary. But our pick is better at execution.
That’s what it boils down to. Somebody else can think up the innovative ideas and that’s fine. But if you can execute them better, then you’re going to be the winner.
If you want to know more about this company that is going to beat Tesla at its own game, join our Green Zone Fortunes subscribers today!
EVs aren’t the only stock mega trend we are tracking. Click here to find out about the technology behind Adam’s No. 1 genomics stock “Imperium.” It is poised to be bigger than electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and the internet-of-things. It’s a technology that stands to have as big an impact as the internet has over the last 20 years!
Watch Adam’s presentation here to find out how you can join our readers on all of these stock recommendations now.
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To safe profits,
Co-Editor, Green Zone Fortunes
Charles Sizemore is the co-editor of Green Zone Fortunes and specializes in income and retirement topics. He is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business.