Tesla has been under attacked before from people and organizations linked to the fossil fuel industry. For example, when an oil executive tried to impersonate CEO Elon Musk to get material information from Tesla or when a group linked to the industry launched the ‘Stop Elon From Failing Again’ campaign.
But for a change, we now learn of an activist environmentalist, or at least someone claiming to be, launching a somewhat similar anti-Tesla campaign.
You might remember the billboard asking Elon Musk to ‘dump Trump’ that showed up near Tesla Factory last month – a reference to Musk’s involvement in Trump’s advisory council, which resulted in a mild backlash from some Tesla fans.
At the time, we didn’t know who was financing the effort, but millionaire venture capitalist Doug Derwin has now confirmed that he is behind the campaign, which he is expanding with a $2 million investment that could go down in history as the most counterintuitive charity donation of all time.
Derwin describes himself as an environmentalist, which seems to be at the core of his dislike of Donald Trump who has been skeptical of global warming and has taken action against environmental protection since taking office.
But Derwin’s dislike of Trump extends to Elon Musk who he wants to see distance himself from the President. Prior to Derwin’s campaign, Musk already responded to critics about his role on the advisory council by saying that he thinks he can have a greater positive impact by actively advising the President than by staying on the sidelines. He wrote in a statement at the time:
“Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration. My goals are to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy and to help make humanity a multi-planet civilization, a consequence of which will be the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs and a more inspiring future for all. I understand the perspective of those who object to my attending this meeting, but I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”
Here’s where it gets interesting. If we assume that both Derwin and Musk are genuine about their goals, they would seem to agree about Tesla’s mission to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. They only disagree about the way to do it when it comes to the president. Musk thinks advising Trump could help, while Derwin has no hope in Trump.
The thing is that the worst case scenario with Musk’s involvement with Trump is that he fails to influence him and Trump moves forward with more anti-environment policies, which would have happened anyway.
On the other hand, no matter what, Derwin’s anti-Tesla campaign is having a direct negative impact on Tesla’s mission, which again is supposedly aligned with Derwin’s views: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
In an interview with Bloomberg, he described his plan:
“It’s just the start. Derwin, 59, is prepared to spend $2 million on Musk-Trump protests. He’s bought $500,000 worth of media, including ads that will run April 23 in the New York Times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News, and television ads that will appear during Meet The Press, Morning Joe and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. He’s going to set up information booths on college campuses in a bid to dissuade young engineers from working at Tesla or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Musk’s rocket company. He’s going to offer to pay people who sent in deposits for the upcoming Tesla Model 3, if they cancel their orders. And he’s going to partner with anti-Trump groups in Silicon Valley to make the Musk attack part of their campaigns.”
Does it sound like someone trying to accelerate the advent of sustainable energy or someone who managed to misdirect his hatred for Trump to negatively affect a cause he cares about? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Featured image: Paul Kinney Productions via Bloomberg