The author is a China-based investor, who made his first pot of gold through selling a company that he had co-founded for $120 million in early 2000s. The article was originally written in Chinese, and has been translated by Momentum Works team. He prefers to be anonymous but accepts feedback through the TLD team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I invest a lot in tech stocks, and Tesla is my second biggest holding. It is interesting some acquaintances, upon knowing it, immediately label me as a believer in the ‘religion of Elon Musk’.
“He is a visionary, so you must be very confident about his vision,” they often say.
Well, what a flawed statement! I am personally always a sceptic of anyone labeled ‘visionary’, especially those self-appointed ones.
Alas, there are so many self-appointed visionaries in the startup world nowadays.
The difference between Elon Musk and those ‘visionaries’ is that he has been through, and goes again to, hell to implement his vision.
You can read a lot about how he solves problems with engineering, with people, with sceptical investors, with competitors etc. on line. So much literature has been written about all these ordeals.
And do remember there are plenty of ‘visionaries’ on electronic vehicles who eventually descended into laugh.
In addition, look at how many people have boasted about autonomous driving, and how Tesla’s FSD (Full self-driving) has surged ahead with thousands of cars in real roads (and enormous amount of real data gathered), while others are still busy showing their pretty PowerPoint slides at investor presentations.
Visionaries are not the movers and shakers
What truly defines a great entrepreneur is not his/her vision, but his/her willingness and ability to go through the toughest challenges (a.k.a. hell) to achieve that vision.
Think about Mao Zedong, who led the Chinese revolution to build the new People’s Republic. He was not the first ‘visionary’ on the Chinese Revolution – many went before him. However, he was the one who successfully executed the revolution, against all the odds.
Investors should not back pure visionaries, we should back great entrepreneurs with grit, perseverance and extreme patience.
Ultimately, they are the ones who change the world.