I was making small talk with Shaun Rheingold at the Plex conference earlier this week. He is a former Tesla designer who has moved east to Michigan to start Canvas Watch. I asked him if Elon Musk is worried about BMW’s $ 2 billion investment in its new I series electric vehicles. Shaun’s view – Musk is so passionate about sustainable transportation that in way he is pleased to see major automakers take electric models seriously.
Indeed today as he announced he is “open sourcing” his Tesla patents, Musk says “Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.”
Shades of Mark Zuckerberg. In The New Technology Elite I quoted James Hamilton of Amazon, a data center “jedi master” about Facebook’s hyperefficient Prineville DC and its Open Compute Project.
“In the past, I’ve seen some super interesting but top secret facilities and I’ve seen some public but not particularly advanced data centers. To my knowledge, this is the first time an industry leading design has been documented in detail and released publicly”
Neither Musk nor Zuckerberg are being altruistic. By releasing component details, they hope to attract a wider scale of suppliers for their designs.
Then there is the “Data General” effect. In the Pulitzer prize winning "The Soul Of A New Machine", Tracy Kidder wrote of an ad that Data General produced but never ran. It read "They Say IBM's Entry Into Minicomputers Will Legitimize The Market. The Bastards Say, Welcome"
At least short term, it bought Data General respect as a pioneer. So much cheaper and better than paying armies of attorneys to defend patents against even bigger armies of attorneys of bigger competitors.