Does Elon Musk make Tesla tech?

Between the massive valuation and the self-driving software, Tesla isn't hard to sell as a tech company. But does that mean that, in 10 years, every car will be tech?

Does Elon Musk make Tesla tech?

You know what's not tech and is a car company? Volkswagen.

Image: Tesla/Protocol

From disagreements about what "Autopilot" should mean and SolarCity lawsuits to space colonization and Boring Company tunnels, extremely online Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his company stay firmly in the news, giving us all plenty of opportunities to consider whether the company that made electric cars cool counts as tech.

The massive valuation definitely screams tech, as does the company's investment in self-driving software and battery development. But at the end of the day, this might not be enough to convince skeptics that Tesla is anything other than a car company that uses tech. It also raises questions about the role that timeliness plays in calling something tech. In a potential future where EVs are the norm and many run on Tesla's own software — which is well within the realm of possibility — will Tesla lose its claim to a tech pedigree?

It's a tough issue, but our intrepid staff is more than up to the task of fighting about it so you don't have to. Could anything that's been referred to as the next Apple this many times not be tech? If the Model X is tech, how about a Ford Focus? If batteries qualify as tech now, is the Energizer bunny the original Technoking? All these questions and more will be answered (or possibly not)! below.

Anna Kramer: is Tesla tech?

Shakeel Hashim: oh hell yes i was hoping for this one

Shakeel: yes it is and so are all car companies

Megan Rose Dickey: lol u would be hoping for this one

Joe Williams: Tesla is absolutely tech, its cars all run via software that can be updated without the users even knowing.

Megan: yeah, it's def tech

Shakeel: would it be tech if it didn't do that @Joe Williams

Anna: Wow am i the only one who is ambivalent about this

Megan: seems like it

Caitlin Wolper: i'd call it tech simply after seeing the internal display that not only identifies other cars but can tell people and cones, that was wild

Megan: it also tries to scare you when you're walking your dog at night

Anna: Doesn't that mean most car companies are now tech though? Plenty of other cars run on software like that now

Megan: it's like, "bish, come any closer and i'll sound off my alarm"

Karyne Levy: jeez i missed the note that this was starting and i'm already 12 replies behind

Joe: Yes, just maybe not in the traditional sense of what's considered technology. Like, battery technology is technology. It's not SaaS obviously, but it's tech.

Tom Krazit: yeah i can't even imagine the counterargument here

Shakeel: is a Ford Focus tech

Megan: ford wishes

Caitlin: is ford/"new girl" product placement tech

Shakeel: or: does tech stop being tech when it's been around for a certain amount of time

Anna: but it's a car company, it makes cars at the end of the day

Allison Levitsky: is tesla more tech than other car companies are

Karyne: you know what's not tech and is a car company? volkswagen

Shakeel: See I think Volkswagen is a tech company


Tom: totally, that emissions scam they pulled was very much tech

Shakeel: but also @Allison Levitsky yes

Anna: see when does a car company become a tech company? Like they are all doing Tesla-ish things now or trying to

Chris Fong: Tesla isn't. They don't even offer an in-dash CD changer.

Megan: lol wtf

Karyne: the scam was tech, the tech inside of any volkswagen car is garbage

Allison: and is tesla somehow more tech than other EV companies

Joe: I think any company that has an electric vehicle or self-driving car is tech.

Shakeel: self driving definitely tech

Megan: agree w/ jojo

Joe: If we consider semiconductors tech, wouldn't we consider batteries tech?

Karyne: exploding engines is not tech, but i think that tesla is tech

Anna: so all car companies will eventually be tech? Or this will stop being tech at some point

Karyne: is the only thing that makes tesla tech the self-driving stuff and the batteries?

Shakeel: if we are saying that Volkswagen is no longer tech then I think we have to say that one day Tesla will not be tech

Karyne: ooh anna, if everything is tech, then is nothing tech?

Shakeel: Because once upon a time cars were exciting new tech


Karyne: megan, my god

Megan: ahahaha

Shakeel: I hope our CMS supports that emoji

Megan: this convo is killing me

Anna: god this is now totally ruining my brain

Karyne: are things tech when people who work there say "we are a tech company building X, not an X company"

Shakeel: no because most of those people are liars

Karyne: lol

Tom: those are platforms /ducks

Karyne: we are a tech company building: cars, meat, space, dating,

Anna: so should we have a statute of limitations on something being tech? Like eventually you just age out and tech means something new

Karyne: is a Sony Discman tech?

Karyne: (i'm aging myself 😔 )

Zeyi Yang: if batteries are tech then is Duracell tech?

Allison: it stops being tech and it becomes "electronics"

Chris: It's electric and runs on batteries.

Karyne: oooh

Joe: I guess for me I think what is ultimately powering the product? In Tesla's case, it's the tech that's doing that. For WeWork, it's a physical asset that is enhanced by technology.

Shakeel: I like Allison's definition

Karyne: in 10 years then, joe, if every car is running on Tesla-like tech, then every car company will be tech

Chris: Is Tesla electronics?

Karyne: help

Becca Evans: does their big valuation help Tesla seem more tech-y than other companies that sell electric cars

Shakeel: yeah it's certain valued at a tech multiple

Karyne: does Elon Musk make it tech?

Shakeel: are flamethrowers tech

Karyne: are boring companies tech?


Shakeel: are short shorts tech

Becca: is that tunnel in vegas tech

Zeyi: am I tech

Karyne: wow what a great place to end.

Joe: Elon, if you're reading this, you're tech in my eyes. Let me go to space with you and we can talk about it all day/night, whatever happens up there.

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