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1/ With all the recent buzz around SPACs, I thought I’d share my experience working on the IPO for @Tesla (as junior analyst/glorified coffee fetcher) -- where I saw @elonmusk tear up the traditional playbook 10 years before anyone else was even questioning it. It worked. 👇
2/ A little background first -- at 22, I had no business getting a job at Morgan Stanley (liberal arts major/knew NOTHING about finance) but was desperate to work in renewable energy and hustled my way onto their clean tech banking team.
3/ My final year there, I worked on @Tesla IPO. A dream come true. 9 months of financial modeling, S-1 drafting, very late nights, yadi yada and we began the Road Show where Musk (accompanied by a gaggle of bankers) would pitch investors to buy shares in the IPO.
4/ Elon wanted to do things differently.

First -- he needed people to see/touch/feel the cars. The staid & dry PPT pres would not do.

I remember weeks of convos about removing glass doors to bring cars into our lobby in Time Square. Bosses were pissed; Elon insisted.
5/ VIP Investors were even given test drives @ Chelsea dealership. When 1 canceled, I got a ride in a prototype Model S (!!!) In 3 years at MS, I’d never seen investors with ear-to-ear grins on their faces before. It was pure genius. Grown men & women giggling like kids.
6/ @elonmusk wore jeans 👖

It’s a weird detail to remember, but all I ever saw was suits - from my colleagues, clients, I mean everyone. Different times 🤷‍♂️ It felt like such a rock star/iconoclast move.

Clearly an extension of the brand + a stick in the eye to ol’ Wall Street
7/ Finally, pricing. Post Roadshow, bankers put on typical dog & pony show about how great it'd gone and recommend a starting price: $15.

Elon says, “no, higher.”

Air sucked out of room.

I’d never seen/heard of someone pushing back here. We were the experts, right?
8/ Bankers go on mute and start swearing. I listen, not fully comprehending, just aware of insane stress level in room.

Can someone convince him otherwise?
Who does he think he is?
What if IPO fails?
Do we pull out?
9/ And -- it was a risk. Tesla’s financials were a mess at that time.

They’d only sold ~1,000 sports 🚗 to date
Desperately in need of 💸
Huge debt load.
Model S wouldn’t debut for 2 more years.

This could be a dumpster fire. Reputations at stake.…
10/ But Elon knew, what the bankers did not, that Tesla would change the car industry. And he knew he’d be leaving money on the table by pricing too low, creating a massive pop on day 1. @bgurley would have been proud.

Elon said $17 or no deal.
11/ In the end, bankers give in. Deal prices @ $17, trades up to $24 at close.

Investors believed.

I think Elon was thrilled to get out of NYC and away from the suits. Myself included.
12/ That was 10 years ago this summer.

If you had bought and held @Tesla from Day 1, you’d have roughly 80x return on your investment.

@elonmusk did the IPO his way, and paved the way for greater innovation (SPACs, Direct Listings) that continue to push status quo.
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