Could Musk Drive Greater Impact
So Elon Musk is buying Twitter for $44B dollars in case you haven't heard. While I don't have a strong opinion on him buying the platform but I do want to present an alternative way that Musk could spend that money to bolster his other businesses which arguably have far more impact on the future of our world.
First, let's look at his most discussed company, Tesla. Tesla has been the leader in the electric vehicle transformation which we can all generally agree is a positive vector for helping reduce the environmental footprint of humanity. Are electric vehicles perfect today, no. But they are getting better and cleaner at a much faster pace than combustion engines.
Tesla generates roughly $111,000 of net income per employee and over $800k of earnings per employee. One thing that will not only benefit Tesla, but the transition to electric vehicles overall is educating workers on the skills needed to build, service, and support this new generation of vehicles.
Now let's take just the piece of the Twitter purchase that Musk is using his own fortune, which is reportedly roughly $20B that he is paying in cash. Today there are approximately 110,000 Tesla employees. What if Musk were to create a paid apprenticeship program where you would get paid to learn and start working in various roles at Tesla. Say he invested $1B a year for the next 20 years, if you pay someone $90k for the 12-month work-education program. Add in benefits and insurance that is $112k invested each year to train up a new Tesla employee.
For $1B a year Tesla could train roughly 8,900 new employees. Now assume say 10% don't make it through the program, we are left with 8,010 new, trained, and ready-to-go workers for Tesla each year. Over that 20-year stretch at that rate investing $1B a year Musk could more than double Tesla's workforce and better yet, they can shift the types of jobs they train for each year to match the company's needs. Now does Tesla need 8,000 new workers each year? I have no idea, only the folks there will know that but take all of Musk's other companies, SpaceX, Solar City, Neuralink, and The Boring company.
What if we split this program across each company 1/5 each. That would be 1,602 new people each year trained to build electric vehicles, build rockets, build solar technology, build critical infrastructure, and helping us better understand the human mind. Now obviously we don't have net income or earnings per employee stats for his private companies, but in Tesla's case, each employee generating $800k in earnings means that those 1,600 workers each year Would equate to $1.28B in new revenue added each year.
Sure, is there the possibility that someone gets the education and then leaves to take a job at another company? Sure, but you can find ways to make it so that other employers have to reimburse Tesla for the employee's education based on how long they have worked
Not only that but up to $5,250 of education expenses are tax-deductible each year so it would create $42M in tax write-offs across his businesses, not a huge number given the scale of his holdings but still a useful incentive to getting more people trained.
Now look, I know that this obviously isn't a perfect plan and who am I to say what Musk should do with his fortune. I just think it is interesting to think about the impact on our society of what Musk's companies are trying to shift us towards, but also the potential impact that has on working people who can learn the skills needed to have careers in what are fields that are still very early and will most likely be around for the rest of our lifetimes.
Imagine 160,000 without college debt, trained to work for companies where they not only are helping proliferate technological shifts, but they themselves can grow and be a part of that change. Look, this would not be an easy program to undertake, implementing something like this and doing it in a way where it doesn't disrupt the currently flow of their businesses would be a challenge, but so is cleaning up Twitter and having fewer bots on the platform doesn't really do much for the world unless you're a Twitter influencer.
Who knows if this would ever actually work, I'm sure we would need to really fine-tune the numbers if we were to look at what it would really take to pull this off. My goal here wasn't to lay out the perfect plan, just to pose an interesting question on how Musk and others for that matter could re-invest their fortune in people which will drive positive outcomes for both themselves and those that take advantage of the opportunity.