Is Elon Musk founder of Tesla? Let's answer this question together. But before we answer this one, we must answer whether @elonmusk is the founder of PayPal, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Two contentious topics, probably enough for a...🧵!
In '99, Paypal launched as a digital wallet by a company named Confinity, founded by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Luke Nosek. Their main competitor was, founded by one Elon Musk. They both soon realized that they could bleed to death or join forces.
In an acquisition in which technically acquired confinity, but was more a merger of equals, took ownership of PayPal, with Musk as CEO and largest single shareholder. 6 months later, in a board coup, Thiel took over as CEO.
Thiel renamed the combined company PayPal in 2001, took it public in 2002. Shortly after, PayPal was acquired by Ebay for $1.5b. Is Elon a founder of PayPal? Well, the legal vehicle that IPOed was literally the same company as which Elon founded solo.
At the same time, Elon was not the originator of the PayPal product, and he only led the combined company for about 20% of its existence. Most people call Elon a founder of PayPal. Is Peter Thiel a founder of PayPal? Not the legal entity, but Confinity started the PayPal product.
Most people also call Thiel, Levchin and Nosek founders of PayPal. In my mind, all four had founder DNA in the end result and including the one team but not the other doesn't make much sense. They all seeded a culture that created the PayPal mafia.
After PayPal sold, Elon started SpaceX, but he was also talking to JB Straubel about turning the TZero prototype by AC Propulsion into a product. When he approached AC, they got introduced to another team that wanted to do the same.
That team, named Tesla, was comprised of Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpening, two entrepreneurs who had just sold an e-reader startup, and were looking to get into cars. Tesla didn't have so much as a logo at the time. Elon and JB agreed to join forces with Tarpening and Eberhard.
Musk funded Tesla and became Chairman, JB joined as CTO, Eberhard stayed on as CEO. After years of struggling to produce their Roadster, Elon booted Eberhard and eventually took over as CEO. The rest, as they say, is history. In this case the shoe is on the other foot.
Elon did not create the original legal entity. At the same time, had he demanded it, Eberhard and Tarpenning would have changed the company's name/entity. Is the name the reason he isn't a founder? It doesn't make much sense.
Courts also decided that Eberhard and Tarpening can't stop Musk and Straubel from being recognized as founders.…
Essentially in this case Elon Musk and JB Straubel were responsible for the product that made Tesla a serious competitor and brought it all the way to today. JB's battery pack approach connecting many laptop cells is standard in any serious EV even today.
If JB is a founder, then so is Elon. And Eberhard and Tarpening also have their claim unchallenged. The only reasonable answer, however little some people are able to handle it, is that Tesla, like PayPal has four founders. And in each case one of them is @elonmusk.
If you liked this, you may like some of my other Tesla & Elon threads -

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