Elon Musk says it ‘establishes I’m not delusional’ about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: ‘I’m not the sole decider’

December 24, 2023 | by

Steamboat Willie

Elon Musk, the billionaire CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has shared his perspective on why he seeks outside investors for his ventures, even when he could easily fund them on his own. During a recent conversation hosted by ARK Investment Management CEO Cathie Wood, Musk explained that each investor is an ally, and their participation in the company’s valuation serves as an external assessment of its worth. Additionally, Musk aims to provide liquidity for employees by enabling stock options. Despite the risks and controversies associated with his ventures, Musk has maintained an impressive track record, having never lost money for an investor in over 100 financing rounds. However, he remains committed to preserving this track record and avoiding complacency.

Elon Musk says it establishes Im not delusional about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: Im not the sole decider

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Reasons for Seeking Investors

Valuation Acknowledgement

One of the reasons why Elon Musk seeks investors for his ventures is to gain valuation acknowledgement. Musk believes that when others are prepared to invest in his companies at a particular value, it establishes that he is not delusional about the valuation. By having outside investors assess the value of his companies and invest their capital, it serves as a validation of the worth and potential of his ventures. This acknowledgement helps build credibility and trust among stakeholders, both within and outside the company.

Liquidity for Employees

Another reason why Musk seeks investors is to enable liquidity for employees. Musk acknowledges the importance of aligning employee incentives with the company’s performance and outcomes. By awarding stock options to employees, Musk aims to provide them with the opportunity to become millionaires through their investment in the company. This not only motivates and incentivizes employees to perform well but also allows them to share in the success and growth of the company. It creates a sense of ownership and loyalty among employees, which can contribute to the overall success of the venture.

The Importance of Allies

Elon Musk emphasizes the importance of having allies in business. He believes that each investor adds value by becoming an ally to the company. These allies can provide support, guidance, and resources that can be beneficial for the growth and success of the ventures. Musk recognizes that taking risks and pursuing ambitious goals require a network of supportive individuals and organizations. By seeking investors, Musk aims to expand his network of allies who can contribute to the overall success of his ventures.

Elon Musk says it establishes Im not delusional about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: Im not the sole decider

Investing in Turbulent Ventures

Track Record of Success

Despite the turbulence that often accompanies Musk’s ventures, he has maintained a track record of success when it comes to financing rounds. He states that he has never lost money for an investor even once throughout his career, which spans over 100 financing rounds. This proven success in leveraging capital effectively and generating returns for investors showcases Musk’s ability to navigate turbulent ventures and deliver results. It also helps build trust and confidence among potential investors, making it easier for him to attract capital for his future endeavors.

Avoiding Complacency

Musk acknowledges the need to avoid complacency and entitlement, especially in the face of success. While he has been successful in securing investments and delivering returns, he recognizes the importance of maintaining a proactive and driven approach. Musk understands that the dynamics of business and the market can quickly change, and being complacent can lead to significant setbacks. By staying focused, adaptable, and continuously seeking opportunities for growth and innovation, Musk aims to mitigate risks and sustain the success of his ventures.

The Role of Investors

Capital Treats You Well

Musk highlights the reciprocal relationship between treating capital well and being treated well by capital. He asserts that when capital is treated well – meaning it is effectively utilized and generates returns – it attracts further investment and support. By using capital judiciously and delivering favorable outcomes, Musk has been able to maintain the trust and confidence of his investors. This positive track record not only allows him to secure future funding but also positions him favorably in the eyes of the investor community, making it easier to attract new investors for his ventures.

Allowing Investors to Make Decisions

Although Musk is the visionary and driving force behind his ventures, he recognizes the importance of allowing investors to have a say in decision-making. While he may take risks and make bold moves, having outside perspectives can provide valuable insights and help make informed decisions. By involving investors in the decision-making process, Musk aims to tap into their expertise and benefit from their diverse perspectives. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership among investors and creates a stronger partnership between the company and its financial backers.

Elon Musk says it establishes Im not delusional about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: Im not the sole decider

Tesla and Employee Millionaires

Musk proudly highlights the impact that Tesla has had on its employees, particularly in terms of creating millionaires within the company. He claims that Tesla may have produced more employee millionaires than any other company in history. This achievement showcases his commitment to aligning employee incentives with the company’s success. By offering stock options to employees, Musk aims to provide them with a stake in the company’s growth and reward their contributions. This approach not only motivates employees but also creates a culture of shared success and ownership within the organization.

Unionization Efforts and Challenges

Resistance to Unionization

Musk has been vocal about his resistance to unionization efforts at Tesla. He believes that the company’s emphasis on stock options and incentives aligned with company outcomes serves as an alternative to traditional union representation. While unions advocate for worker rights and collective bargaining, Musk argues that Tesla’s approach empowers employees individually and allows them to benefit directly from the company’s success. However, this resistance has faced challenges, as evidenced by recent unionization efforts and pushback from organizations like the United Auto Workers, both in the US and in countries like Sweden.

Unions in Sweden

In addition to facing resistance to unionization in the US, Tesla has also encountered challenges in Sweden. Unions in Sweden have been actively pushing for representation and collective bargaining rights for Tesla employees. These efforts have gained traction, posing potential roadblocks for the company’s operations in the country. The conflict between Tesla and unions in Sweden highlights the ongoing debate around worker rights and the role of unions in ensuring fair treatment and representation in the workplace. It also showcases the challenges faced by companies like Tesla as they navigate different labor regulations and cultural norms in various regions.

Elon Musk says it establishes Im not delusional about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: Im not the sole decider


Other Ventures and Investments

The Boring Company

One of Elon Musk’s notable ventures is The Boring Company, which aims to revolutionize transportation through the development of underground tunnels. Despite facing challenges and encountering setbacks with some of its projects, The Boring Company has continued to attract major investments. This demonstrates Musk’s ability to garner financial support and maintain investor interest, even in ventures that may face skepticism or uncertainty. The Boring Company’s innovative approach to transportation infrastructure resonates with investors who see the long-term potential and disruptive nature of the concept.

Neuralink and X

Elon Musk’s ventures, Neuralink and X, have also attracted significant investments from notable players in their respective industries. Neuralink focuses on developing brain-machine interface technology, while X (formerly known as Google X) is involved in various moonshot projects and innovations. The ability of these ventures to secure substantial investments speaks to Musk’s credibility as an entrepreneur and visionary. It reflects the belief that investors have in his ability to deliver groundbreaking technologies and create new opportunities for growth and disruption in the market.

xAI’s Equity Investment

xAI, Musk’s AI chatbot company, Grok, is seeking to raise up to $1 billion in equity investments. Despite the competitive landscape in the AI industry, xAI has attracted interest from investors due to its unique positioning and potential in the market. The equity investment sought by xAI showcases the confidence that investors have in Musk’s ability to lead and deliver results in this rapidly evolving field. It also highlights the importance of securing sufficient funding to support research and development efforts and drive product innovation in high-growth sectors like AI.

Ability to Fund Projects

Equity or Debt Financing

Elon Musk asserts that, at this point, he could fund “just about anything” through equity or debt financing. His successful track record of leveraging both equity and debt to fund his ventures showcases his ability to access different sources of capital. This flexibility in financing allows Musk to explore a wide range of opportunities and pursue ambitious projects. Whether it is attracting equity investments from major players or raising debt capital, Musk has demonstrated his prowess in securing the necessary funds to bring his visions to life.

Funding ‘Just About Anything’

Musk’s confidence in his ability to secure funding reflects his reputation and track record as a successful entrepreneur. He believes that his ventures have the potential to attract investment and funding for almost any project or initiative. While acknowledging the risks and challenges associated with launching and scaling ventures, Musk’s confidence in his ability to attract capital underscores his belief in the value and potential of his ideas. It also highlights the importance of persuasive storytelling and strategic planning in garnering investor support and funding.

Elon Musk says it establishes Im not delusional about valuations when investors pile into his often turbulent ventures: Im not the sole decider

Maintaining Success for Investors

Keeping a Good Track Record

Elon Musk recognizes the importance of maintaining a good track record and delivering favorable outcomes for investors. He attributes his success in securing investments to treating capital well and generating positive returns. This history of success builds trust and confidence among investors, enabling him to attract further investment and support. By consistently delivering results and avoiding losses for investors, Musk aims to uphold his reputation and maintain a positive track record. This ongoing commitment to success not only benefits his investors but also contributes to the long-term sustainability and growth of his ventures.

Avoiding Bad Outcomes

While Musk acknowledges that he cannot control whether investors choose to sell at certain times, he emphasizes his commitment to avoiding bad outcomes for them. He believes that by treating capital well and making prudent decisions, he can minimize the likelihood of negative outcomes. Musk’s proactive approach to risk management and decision-making allows him to navigate turbulent ventures and mitigate potential losses for investors. By prioritizing capital preservation and seeking opportunities for growth, Musk aims to provide a favorable investment experience and foster long-term partnerships with his investors.


Elon Musk’s approach to seeking investors for his ventures is driven by multiple factors. From valuation acknowledgement to enabling liquidity for employees and harnessing the power of allies, Musk recognizes the various benefits that investors bring to his ventures. Despite his ability to fund projects on his own, Musk values the external validation, support, and expertise that investors provide. He acknowledges the importance of maintaining a good track record and avoiding complacency to sustain success. Through his ventures, such as Tesla, The Boring Company, Neuralink, and xAI, Musk continues to shape industries, attract investments, and deliver innovative solutions.

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