Last week, I wrote about lean startups and how software companies have less need for venture capital these days. Well, there are still businesses that require significant investment to get going, and today one reached an important milestone with the Tesla IPO.
What impresses me the most is that Tesla was founded in 2003 and raised 783 million dollars, yet its founder, Elon Musk, retained ownership of 35% of the company prior to the IPO.
Moreover, no single other investor owned more than 10%. In an environment where it is common for investors to dilute founders into obscurity, this is an amazing accomplishment.
I also like the fact that Musk’s title is Chairman, Product Architect and CEO. This emphasis on the product is important and key to their success so far. So many companies focus on sales and revenues with product design taking a back seat.
Tesla has been an audacious undertaking. As NASDAQ president Bob Greifeld mentioned at the opening bell ceremony this morning, this was the first IPO of a US auto company since 1956.
Musk introduced an electric car company into an industry that has been outright hostile to electric vehicles and that has recently gone through intense economic turmoil.
But there was a point to be proven. A cool, high performance vehicle can also be clean and environmentally friendly. And this is a startup at its best – pushing industry forward through innovation, creativity and vision.