The secret to the insane loyalty Steve Jobs and Elon Musk both mastered

“What’s one basic similarity between Elon Musk and Steve Jobs? They both obviously mastered the art of the splashy product reveal,” Jessica Stillman writes for Inc. “Under Jobs, events launching new Apple products were a circus of frenzied expectation. Musk managed something similar this week with Tesla’s new, lower cost Model 3.”

“Basically instantly, 276,000 people plunked down $1,000 to reserve a Model 3 for delivery at an unknown date (and a not entirely certain price point),” Stillman writes. “My colleague John Brandon called the unveiling ‘bigger than Star Wars.’ That’s saying something.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, that’s saying something that’s ludicrous and wholly untrue.

“But at a more fundamental level, how was Musk able to recreate that old Jobs magic and inspire insane levels of customer trust and excitement?” Stillman writes. “A recent post by tech industry veteran and commentator Ben Thompson offers a thought-provoking answer: Both men understand something about disruption that most people, even the experts, miss… Thompson argues Jobs understood that if you’re good enough — if you think big enough — you can turn the disruption orthodoxy on its head. Apple led with excellence. It offered a whole new category of quality from day one. And Musk has taken a page out of the Apple playbook to do the same.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Elon Musk is to Steve Jobs as Buster Douglas is to Muhammad Ali.

Do not be surprised when the momentum that Steve Jobs created overwhelms and consumes Tesla.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “C.C.A.” for the heads up.]


  1. “Elon Musk is to Steve Jobs as Buster Douglas is to Muhammad Ali.

    Do not be surprised when the momentum that Steve Jobs created overwhelms and consumes Tesla.”

    We are bit on edge today at MDN headquarters.

    What is wrong with just being glad that we have innovative people who are pushing the boundaries past what the established leaders say can be done? I expect SJ would admire Musk.

    I noticed that MDN tactfully avoided Musk’s other accomplishment – SpaceX. I would to if I wanted to put down Mr. Musk.

    1. A bit on edge indeed.

      Tesla actually IS the Apple of automobiles, like it or not MDN. You gotta give them credit where it is due. A ‘pioneering-like’ change the world attitude, a commitment to doing something better and different than all the rest, constant improvement, immense desire to delight customers with its products and keep surprising them with improvements and updates over time, environmentally friendly, fusing good software with great hardware, extremely loyal customers with deep pockets. Sound familiar? Sure, Tesla wasn’t first to embody or employ these attributes but Apple similarly isn’t first at a lot of things either.

      There’s no need to rankle at Tesla’s success. If Apple eventually wants to have a competing product, fine. But it’s not really appropriate at this point for MDN to have it’s daggers out and saying “The sky will fall for everyone not Apple. Brimstone et al”.

      There is nobody else alive today that embodies the characteristics, vision and passion similar to those of Steve Jobs besides Elon Musk. I wouldn’t argue Elon is Steve’s equal (he is not), but he certainly is the next best thing.

    2. I love the fact that Tesla dared and got the Balls to go out smart the petrol heads at the auto industry. Sick and tired of unimaginative assholes in the world. This is the New Age of Industrial Revolution started by STEVE JOBES. An entirely New thinking, A new perspective and a far Superior Future.

  2. I cannot speak to Elon Musk, though I follow what he is doing, with interest. What Steve Jobs did was clear, scientifically beautiful – and too difficult for simpler minds to follow. He took the status quo and threw it in the dustbin, for he knew he had a better technological future for us.
    Most people want the status quo. It is known, it is understood and it is acceptable – because most people do not wish to improve their lives unless that life is somehow imperilled. The ‘fundamental level’, to which Ms Stillman alludes, is the gift of showing enough interested and intelligent people a future for which they are willing to pay, in a display of self interest, which ultimately helps us all.
    I hope Elon Musk can get us out from the cul de sac down which the internal combustion engine has travelled. If Elon Musk succeeds (and my good thoughts go with him on his quest) he will have earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as Steve Jobs.

  3. And we have Tim Cook… Loser Charlie Brown’s proverbial “rock for a gift”!

    Tim Cook is about as entertaining as a Mexican soap opera. Watching dusk turn to dawn is more interesting. He’s also about as innovating as a peanut butter and jelly sanwich!

  4. While admiring Elon Musk’s innovations is justified, a key difference exists between him and Jobs.

    Musk built his companies with huge government subsidies. Jobs avoided using crony capitalism to grow and prosper.

    1. There are actually a lot of key differences between Jobs and Musk (which I would argue favor Jobs), but it’s kinda weaksauce to imply one of them is subsidies (or profits! as others have).

      The iPhone carrier subsidy is worth one-half of the cost of the phone whereas the electric car subsidy is less than 10% and will disappear entirely in a year or so. Govt or private, it’s a product subsidy. Neither is inherently bad, nor worthy of bragging rights.

      The other simplistic comment people seem to like to raise as a point of derision is around which company makes more money today….the 40 year old titan that is the biggest company on Earth in terms of market cap or the couple-year old startup. Um, duh?

      We all love Apple and Steve for the various wonderful things they have done to improve our lives – the changes they have wrought have been giant indeed. I think Elon/Tesla stand on the shoulders of a true giant that came before them. But I also think it just strikes me as rank insecurity when folks wave these false canards (e.g., subsidy, current profits, etc) to belittle the progress and accomplishments that are being made elsewhere.

      You can say “Elon Musk is no Steve Jobs” – true. Or “Elon has had an easier climb to the top than Steve” – true. Or “Steve did more to change the world” – still true, for now. Or even “Elon borrowed from Steve/Apples example to get where he is” – probably also true. All that being said, he is still the the greatest change agent in the world today and really does embody a lot of what Steve did.

      Maybe that makes Elon/Tesla a second best leader in history when compared with Steve, but still absolute best in the present.

      1. “The iPhone carrier subsidy is worth one-half of the cost of the phone whereas the electric car subsidy is less than 10%”

        this is a silly comparison.
        how do you make out that the carrier’s are giving Apple a ‘subsidy’?
        when you look at how the carrier’s plans work — they are giving phones out at a lower price BUT RECOUPING it over time of the contract with higher monthly charges than (lower cost) contracts for full cost phones, that’s not a ‘subsidy’.
        from what I gather Apple just gets about the same price for ‘full priced’ phones as well as contract phones.
        Tesla’s government subsidies seem to be ‘free cash’ to Tesla.

        1. I’ll keep my reply short and simple. For the iPhone, it’s called a carrier subsidy for a reason. Please look it up. AT&T/Verizon pay Apple nearly 1/2 the total cost of the phone you bought, whether you got it in an AT&T store, Verizon store, Apple store or website. They overcharge on rates to make it back up later.

          The subsidy pertaining to electric vehicles does not go to Tesla or benefit them directly. It goes to the purchaser of the vehicle as a reduction in their taxable income the following tax season. If I buy their $100k car, that’s the price I pay to Tesla. Buyers currently have tax incentives to purchase electric vehicles (from any supplier), car companies themselves do not receive subsidy payments from the government.

          If you’re going to be critical an call something silly, please start by thinking critically.

          1. your maths is just wrong

            by knowing that the purchaser can get a subsidy from govt Tesla knows it can charge more for the car i.e it will make more profit.

            What I said about the iPhone is something like what you are saying. the so called iPhone ‘subsidy’ doesn’t make apple more money i.e the carrier’s don’t increase apple’s profit amount. Like i said apple gets about the same amount from the phone whether the carrier sells the phone on contract or full price. seriously does apple make MORE PROFIT PER phone from the so called carrier ‘subsidy’ ? apple probably makes more from MORE phones sold but it doesn’t make more PER phone.

            if you can’t see the difference between the two there’s nothing more i can say.

            1. let me put this other words:

              Tesla’s govt subsidies allow the purchaser to get a ‘better ‘ deal as it reduces his cost.

              The iPhone’s so called carrier subsidy does not lower the consumer’s cost. Or increase apple’s profit per phone.

    2. After seeing Musk on Stephen Colbert some time back I was very disappointed. No sparkling repartee from the inert man nor a raconteur. He seemed more a stiff, annoyed, uncommuncative a**hole than innovator. Jobs never gave that impression though he was certainly confidently cocky and rightfully so.

  5. And of course Steve Jobs rarely announced anything before it was available for sale. That’s still mainly true: the pre-announcement of the Trashcan Pro was a rare exception.

    Take a look at Tesla. The Model 3 has been announced years before general availability, and what was shown was a prototype with enormous changes still ahead. The reservation fee will be used to fund current operations, since Tesla’s burn rate is enormous. Feels a bit like a Ponzi scheme, whatever Tesla’s merits as a manufacturer.

  6. some differences between Musk and Jobs :

    1) Tesla isn’t profitable. Even with govt. subsidies it loses money. Musk says that ‘this year’ it will turn a profit.
    (btw the iPhone takes 94% of the world’s smartphone profits)

    2) What makes Jobs a giant is that he mastered and changed a HOST of DIFFERENT industries:

    PCs with Apple (l, lls etc) and Macs with GUI and mouse.

    Music with iTunes and iPod

    Animated Movies with PIXAR. (producing half a dozen of the biggest animated hits).

    Phones with iPhone. Then touch screen computing with iPad.

    Apps retail with App store.

    General retail with Apple stores : most profitable per square foot stores in the world beating every retail chain out there.

    other Apple accomplishments under Jobs:
    Voted Number one Supply chain organization (with Cook’s help), numerous times beating even Dell, Walmart, Amazon.

    Apple Design team wins probably the number one design award the D&AD best studio in the last 50 years (given to Ive and team after Steve’s passing).


    not putting Musk down, he’s accomplished a lot against deep pocketed competitors but to match Jobs he would have to a do a lot more.
    Elon musk is i believe 44 years old.
    Steve jobs passed at 56.

    1. Your first item #1 isn’t a difference between Elon and Steve, but with Tesla and Apple at different stages of their company and product development – and I’d argue the point is totally irrelevant and actually detracts from any other arguments that could be made about comparing/contrasting the two.

      Everything else in your post (except point 1) I agree with completely. Well said.

  7. As I have stated many times here (first time many years ago when SJ was still alive):

    Steve is the greatest entrepreneur of this century and Elon is his (only) worthy heir. If Steve would still be alive today I’d consider him to be number 1 and Elon number 2

    This “Tesla has not shown any profit”-argument is irrelevant. Tesla is constantly expanding and uses most of it’s money in R&D (gigafactory alone is 5 billion, tho Panasonic has a cut too).

    Time for profit is later, just remember that Apple struggled too in the early days for many many years. Also, SpaceX is already profitable and as I write this the Dragon first stage has successfully landed on the droneship, they will make a shitload of money once they can reuse the first stage (and eventually all stages) on a regular basis.

    Let’s give credit where credit is due.

    1. “Tesla is not the next Apple”

      “This, unfortunately, is where Tesla has consistently come up short. The Model S received nearly universal praise when it first launched, “breaking” the Consumer Reports scoring system with the strength of its design and performance, but as time has gone on it has fallen to “not recommended” status and was even named one of its “worst of the worst” used cars. Tesla forums have been flooded with a wide variety of quality and reliability issues, including defective drivetrains, cracking windshields, leaky sunroofs, malfunctioning door handles, and countless other problems. These issues are already affecting the launch of Tesla’s Model X, as the administrator of a website that tracks reservations, orders, and production of the electric SUV reports, “Even though all invitation are out, it is estimated there are 30-40 percent of the reservation holders have not ordered. Some have indicating they prefer to wait until more cars go through the production line to ensure they get a car with no problems.”

      If Tesla’s quality problems are preventing a full third of Model X reservation holders from converting $5,000 preorders to actual sales, the impact on Model 3 reservations is likely to be much higher.”


      1. You forgot to mention that those “problems” (per CR, not per customers) where just temporary and that CR awarded Model S with the highest 5 stars in all categories. In fact the score was OVER the maximum 100 points, here is an exact quote from CR:

        “The all-wheel-drive Tesla Model S P85D sedan performed better in our tests than any other car ever has, breaking the Consumer Reports Ratings system.”


        “In rating it, however, we faced a quandary: The Tesla initially scored 103 in the Consumer Reports’ Ratings system, which by definition doesn’t go past 100. The car set a new benchmark, so we had to make changes to our scoring to account for it.”

        I really hope that ppl does not resort to the same unjustified FUD that Apple/AAPL faced in the early iPhone-years.

        Okey, so Elon said one bad word about Apple (which he kinda corrected later on when he said he loves Apple) when he said that Apple is the graveyard of Tesla. No reason to start twisting the facts because of just that one sentence.

        to revise the criterions because Teslas car where so good that

        1. did you actually read the post?

          yes consumer reports originally had good things to say then: “but as time has gone on it has fallen to “not recommended” status and was even named one of its “worst of the worst” used car”.

          here’s Consumer reports actual write up:

          “Tesla Motors’ all-electric Model S sedan got high marks in Consumer Reports’ 50-plus tests involving driving dynamics and livability, and it consumed energy at the electric equivalent of 84 miles per gallon (87 MPGe in the P85D trim). It’s the best-performing car we’ve ever tested.

          But its predicted reliability is another matter.

          As part of our Annual Auto Reliability Survey, we received about 1,400 survey responses from Model S owners who chronicled an array of detailed and complicated maladies. From that data we forecast that owning that Tesla is likely to involve a worse-than-average overall problem rate.”

          1. You can twist it any way you want, yet CR eventually selected Tesla the best car in 2015. Actually Tesla took the first two places:

            “Two Teslas on our Best of 2015 list? You betcha. We didn’t think it was possible, but the 691-hp P85D wowed us even more than the base model Tesla S.”


            Elon’s success doesn’t take the spotlight away from Apple, sure I bet you can find more negative things about Tesla if you search hard enough but that does not change the overall picture that he has done with Tesla and SpaceX.

            That one (albeit offensive, I agree) “graveyard”-statement doesn’t change my positive view about his accomplishments.

            1. “You can twist it any way you want”

              where am I ‘twisting’ anything? I’m just quoting.

              here more about consumer Reports rating, readers can decide themselves (I’m offering no opinion)

              Inside Evs:
              “Consumer Reports today has dropped the Tesla Model S from its recommended list citing multiple reliability issues.

              Showing what a force of nature, and how respected Consumer Reports’ opinion is, Tesla’s stock dropped as much as 11% on the announcement, falling as low as $202.99, off more than $25.00 at one point. Tesla ended the session Tuesday, off 6.6% at $213.03. (real time quote can be found here).

              After a survey of more than 1,400 Model S owners, CR says that many of the content added features by Tesla on the Model S like the auto-handles and sunroof are of particular concern, as well as the motor systems themselves, leading to this conclusion:

              “Owning a Tesla will likely mean worse than average reliability…as a result, the Model S will not receive Consumer Reports’ recommended designation, even though it did so well in our separate road test evaluation.””

              ANOTHER group this an ADVOCACY group (one trying to promote electric cars):

              “This is not the first time that Tesla’s reliability has come into question. A survey revealed reliability issues with Model S vehicles last month. According to research conducted by an electric vehicle advocacy group Plug-In America, about two-thirds of early produced Model S cars suffer from battery component failure by the time they finish 60,000 miles.

              As per the research findings, every two of three Model S vehicles manufactured from the 2012 and 2013 batches were equipped with drivetrains’ components that depicted this problem. Model S owners would thus be required to replace their electric motors before they reach a specific distance.”

      2. From everything I’ve read, the CR rating that said they came up short were from 2013 and 2014 vehicles. Check the date on the articles when you google. Issues that have been subsequently addressed and/or no longer present in more recent models. Folks need to chill out and not jump on every little thing. The CR was bothered because the door handle didn’t pop out and auto present itself 100 percent of the time when they approached the car – fixed via software. Another “major issue” is that one plastic adaptor (of the half dozen you get) to the charger cracked.

        If you buy an expensive vehicle you really don’t want anything to go wrong, ever. So not to minimize the CR report but to jump up and down over it is pure unadulterated FUD. Customer satisfaction remains at 99 percent! That was true too of the iPhone when CR slandered Apple over “antenna gate” and “bend gate” etc.

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