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天才又古怪的马斯克将带领特斯拉走向何方?

更新时间:2018-8-29 19:14:06 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

In Elon Musk’s World, Brakes Are for Cars, Not C.E.O.s
天才又古怪的马斯克将带领特斯拉走向何方?

Elon Musk was up early on Saturday. He departed Los Angeles, where he runs SpaceX, his private rocket venture, and flew north in his white Gulfstream jet. Stopping in Silicon Valley, he picked up two engineers from Tesla, his electric-car company. They flew on to Reno, Nevada, where they spent the day at Tesla’s battery plant, the Gigafactory.

埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)周六起了一个大早。他从洛杉矶出发,乘坐他的白色湾流飞机向北飞去;洛杉矶是他的私营火箭公司SpaceX所在地。在硅谷逗留期间,他从他的电动汽车公司特斯拉(Tesla)接上两名工程师。他们一起飞往内华达州的里诺,在特斯拉的电池厂Gigafactory待了一天。

It might have been just another workday for Musk — a multistate jaunt to personally fix a drive-unit production line. But this was no ordinary morning. He was a brief night’s sleep removed from one of his most consequential decisions: scrapping his plan to take Tesla private.

对于马斯克来说,这可能只是一个寻常的工作日——途经多个州的短途旅行,去亲自修理一条驱动装置生产线。但这并不是一个普通的早晨。就在昨晚的一段短暂睡眠之前,他刚刚做出了自己最为重大的决定之一——放弃特斯拉私有化的计划。

It was an abrupt about-face, and it capped a tumultuous 2 1/2 weeks that began with a single tweet and wound up roiling markets, setting off regulatory alarms and raising questions about his judgment. Even by Musk’s standards — this is a CEO who believes Tesla is under attack by saboteurs, has a personal life playing out in the gossip blogs and is prone to fiery outbursts on Twitter — it has been a time of high intrigue.

这是一个突然的转变,结束了持续两周半的动荡——这场动荡始于一条推文,之后搅动了市场,引起监管机构的警觉,以及对他的判断力的种种质疑。即使以马斯克的标准——这位首席执行官认为特斯拉遭到了蓄意破坏者的攻击,他的私生活为八卦博客所津津乐道,并且在推特上动不动爆发——这也是一段极其引人注意的时期。

“The reason Elon seems to attract drama is that he is so transparent, so open, in a way that can come back to bite him,” said Kimbal Musk, Musk’s younger brother and a Tesla board member. “He doesn’t know how to do it differently. It’s just who he is.”

“埃隆身上之所以总是充满戏剧性,是因为他很透明,很开放,反过来也容易受到伤害,”马斯克的弟弟、特斯拉董事会成员金博尔·马斯克(Kimbal Musk)说。“他不知道还能怎么做。他就是这样一个人。”

Musk, a brilliant but erratic billionaire, is the animating force behind Tesla, responsible for everything from its push into renewable energy to the design of the air vents in its newest electric car. His singular role gives him extraordinary influence over the fate of Tesla, its more than 40,000 employees and its investors.

马斯克是一位才华横溢但性格古怪的亿万富翁,他是特斯拉背后的活力所在,从推进可再生能源到设计最新款电动汽车的通风口,都有马斯克的贡献。他的独特角色,使其对特斯拉公司、4万多名员工及其投资者的命运产生了极大的影响。

Associates, including several people inside the company interviewed over the past week, portray him as a workaholic who zeros in on the smallest details. His deep involvement suggests that the company can’t do without him. Yet these days, it’s not always clear that he knows what’s best for Tesla.

包括在过去一周接受采访的多名公司内部人士在内,同事们把他描绘成一个专注于细节的工作狂。他的深入参与表明,公司不能没有他。然而现在,大家并不清楚他是否知道怎样做最有利于特斯拉。

In an interview this month with The New York Times, Musk said he was physically exhausted and emotionally drained, causing some to question his fitness for the job.

在本月接受《纽约时报》采访时,马斯克说他身体疲惫,情绪低落,这让一些人质疑他是否适合这份工作。

At the office, he is hardly a typical chief executive. Racing to resolve critical production issues, he can often be found on the factory floor, working to fix robots. At night, he sometimes sleeps under his desk. All the while, he has been confronting an exodus of senior employees, preparing to be interviewed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and was working with Goldman Sachs and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to take Tesla private — until he wasn’t.

在公司里,他并非典型的首席执行官。为了解决关键的生产问题,他经常出现在工厂,努力修理机器人。在晚上,他有时候就睡在自己的办公桌下面。与此同时,他还需要面对高级员工的大批离去,同时准备美国证交会的面谈,要跟高盛和沙特的主权财富基金合作,将特斯拉私有化——直到他放弃了这个念头。

Some board members have been dismayed at Musk’s behavior, according to people familiar with the directors’ thinking, but no active search is underway for a replacement — although there have been fitful efforts to find a top lieutenant.

据知情人透露,一些董事会成员对马斯克的行为感到失望,但目前没有积极地寻找替代者——虽然一直在时断时续地寻找一位高级副手。

James Anderson, the head of the asset management firm Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s biggest shareholder after Musk, said he still had faith in the 47-year-old chief executive, calling him a “visionary leader” who had unmatched technical expertise and remained “obsessive about the details.”

特斯拉排在马斯克之后的第二大股东、资产管理公司贝利-吉福德公司(Baillie Gifford)的负责人詹姆斯·安德森(James Anderson)表示,他仍对这位47岁的首席执行官有信心,称他是一位“有远见的领袖”,拥有无可匹敌的技术专长,保持着“对细节的痴迷”。

Yet Anderson said he had grown increasingly worried about Musk, believing that his volatile personal life and intense work ethic were taking a steep toll. “He is so demanding, so driven by the imperative to do something good for the world,” Anderson said. “You could always see something like this happening.”

然而安德森说,他越来越担心马斯克,认为他不稳定的个人生活和热烈的工作态度正在构成伤害。“他如此苛刻,觉得自己必须为世界做出有益的事情,”安德森说。 “你总能看到这样的事情发生。”

At 6:30 a.m. on Aug. 18, three robots in the paint shop at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California, started malfunctioning. The incident forced a production halt on the Model 3, the key to the company’s future.

8月18日早上6点30分,加利福尼亚州弗里蒙特的特斯拉工厂油漆车间的三个机器人开始出现故障。这一事件迫使公司未来的关键产品Model 3暂停生产。

Made aware of the stoppage, Musk went to the factory and worked into the night. The problem was resolved, but Tesla reached a troubling conclusion: The robots had been infected with malware in an act of industrial sabotage. And though they could not prove it, executives suspected they knew the culprit: a rogue employee, working at the behest of short-sellers.

得知停工后,马斯克去了工厂,一直工作到深夜。问题得到了解决,但特斯拉得出了一个令人不安的结论:机器人感染了恶意软件,这是一起业内的蓄意破坏行为。虽然他们无法证明这一点,但高管们怀疑罪魁祸首是一名捣乱的员工,在卖空者的要求下做了这件事。

Tesla is among the most shorted stocks, meaning that hedge funds are betting against it and quick to note a missed production goal or cash shortfall. David Einhorn, the billionaire founder of Greenlight Capital, is in that camp. In a letter to investors last month detailing his argument, Einhorn wrote, “Elon Musk appears erratic and desperate.”

特斯拉是最抢手的股票之一,这意味着对冲基金正在押注,并能很快注意到未达到的生产目标或现金短缺。绿光资本(Greenlight Capital)的亿万富翁创始人戴维·艾因霍恩(David Einhorn)就在这群人之中。在上个月给投资者的一封信里,他详细说明了自己的论点,艾因霍恩写道:“埃隆·马斯克显得不稳定且无所顾忌。”

Musk believes that the short-sellers spread misinformation about the company, and perhaps much worse. In June, Musk accused an employee of sabotage that had slowed Model 3 production, and suggested short-sellers might be to blame.

马斯克认为,卖空者在传播有关公司的错误信息,或许更糟糕。今年6月,马斯克指责一名蓄意破坏的员工放慢了Model 3的生产速度,并认为他可能受到卖空者指使。

Kimbal Musk, reflecting on the battles with short-sellers, said, “We feel like we are at war.”

金博尔·马斯克在谈到与卖空者的斗争时说:“我们觉得我们处于战争状态。”

When Musk ceremonially unveiled the Model 3 last summer, he billed it as the first mass-market electric vehicle, and predicted monthly production of 20,000 by year’s end. But in the final three months of 2017, just 2,425 were completed.

去年夏天,当马斯克宣布推出Model 3时,他称其为第一款面向大众市场的电动汽车,预计到年底每月产量将达到两万辆。但在2017年的最后三个月,仅完成了2425辆。

The delays were a result of what Musk called “manufacturing hell,” an inferno that has preoccupied him for much of the past year. “This has been the most difficult time for Tesla,” said JB Straubel, the company’s chief technical officer. “We knew this was going to be the case, but it’s been even harder than any of us expected.”

该延迟的原因被马斯克称为“量产地狱”,这在过去一年的大部分时间里一直困扰着他。“这对特斯拉来说是最困难的时期,”该公司首席技术官史朝保(JB Straubel)表示。“我们知道会出现这种情况,但它比我们任何人预期的都要艰难。”

Some of the wounds were self-inflicted.

一些伤害是公司自己造成的。

In preparing the assembly lines, Musk became convinced that the process should be close to fully automated, using robots rather than humans whenever possible.

在准备装配生产线时,马斯克确信这个过程应该接近全面自动化,尽可能使用机器人而不是人类。

So Tesla built a factory with hundreds of robots, many programmed to perform tasks that humans could easily do. One robot, which Musk nicknamed the “flufferbot,” was designed to simply place a sound-dampening piece of fiberglass atop the battery pack.

因此,特斯拉建造了一个拥有数百个机器人的工厂,其中许多机器人被设定了程序,用来执行人类可以轻松完成的任务。有一个机器人被马斯克戏称为“抹酱机器人”,它的任务只是在电池组顶部放置一块消声玻璃纤维片。

But the flufferbot never really worked. It would fail to pick up the fiberglass, or put it in the wrong place, frequently delaying production. It was eventually replaced by factory workers.

但是抹酱机器人从来没有真正发挥作用。它无法拿起玻璃纤维,要么就是把它放在错误的地方,经常拖慢生产进度。最终,它被工人取代。

Musk has accepted responsibility for some of these missteps. After the debacle, Musk tweeted: “Excessive automation at Tesla was a mistake. To be precise, my mistake. Humans are underrated.”

马斯克承担了其中一些失误的责任。惨遭失败之后,马斯克发推文说:“特斯拉的过度自动化是一个错误。确切地说,是我的错误。人类被低估了。”

As the challenges have mounted, Musk has thrown himself into his work, spending hours each week walking factory floors, trying to diagnose and fix various problems on the assembly line.

随着挑战增加,马斯克全心全意地投入工作,每周花许多个小时在工厂车间走动,试图诊断和解决装配线上的各种问题。

Musk’s micromanaging has taken a toll on Tesla’s executive ranks, with more than 30 senior employees having departed since 2016, according to a list compiled by Reuters. Among the departed are the director of battery engineering, the vice president for autopilot and the director of manufacturing engineering, all positions crucial to Tesla’s future.

马斯克的微管理对特斯拉的高层管理人员造成了影响,根据路透社编纂的一份清单,自2016年以来已有30多名高级员工离职。其中包括电池工程总监、自动驾驶副总裁和制造工程总监,这些都是对特斯拉未来至关重要的位置。

On Thursday morning, Musk addressed his board at a hastily convened meeting in a conference room at the Tesla factory. His sleeping bag was still on the floor. When he announced that Tesla would be staying public, at least one director cheered out loud.

星期四早上,马斯克在特斯拉工厂会议室匆忙召开了会议,向董事会致辞。当时他的睡袋还放在地上。当他宣布特斯拉将继续公开发行股票时,至少有一位董事大声欢呼。

Musk’s stunning reversal came about after he realized that while going private would remove some headaches — such as short-sellers — it could introduce others, including entanglements with conventional auto companies or oil kingdoms that hardly symbolize an all-electric future.

马斯克的这个惊人转变源于他意识到,私有化会消除一些问题——例如卖空者——但可能会引起其他麻烦,包括和常规汽车厂或石油王国纠缠在一起,那就很难谈得上是全电动未来了。

But the move didn’t provide a full reset. There is a looming investigation by the SEC over the circumstances of his Aug. 7 tweet announcing that he had “funding secured” to take the company private, an assertion that proved shaky.

但此举并没有带来一次全面的重启。美国证券交易委员会正在调查他8月7日发布的推文中的情况,在推文中,他宣布公司私有化的“资金已到位”,这一说法被证明是不确凿的。

As he juggles these disparate challenges, Tesla’s fans and foes will be scrutinizing Musk’s words, his actions and even his moods.

当马斯克处理这些完全不同的挑战时,特斯拉的粉丝和敌人将会密切关注他的话、他的行为、甚至他的情绪。

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