Weekend edition—Underestimating Elon, the tortilla challenge, sinking Atlantic City

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Elon Musk has wowed the world with sleek, high-tech, desirable automotive design, but he knows the proving ground has shifted. Now he needs to start making reliable cars—and a lot of them.

On May 4, Musk said Tesla would produce half a million cars in 2018—two years ahead of the already-sonic schedule—and would double that volume in 2020. “We are hell-bent on being the best manufacturer on Earth,” Musk said.

The response from Wall Street? Tough. Tesla is “a cash-hungry, start-up unicorn,” Barclays’ Brian Johnson sniffed, forecasting a 25% plunge in its share price. Indeed, there’s no good reason why Tesla, with $4 billion in 2015 revenue, should have a market capitalization of $27 billion. That’s half the market value of Ford, which had sales of $149 billion last year.

But if Musk can get Tesla’s manufacturing right, he stands a serious chance of truly shaking up the gasoline-propelled transportation world and replacing it with electric drive. And his best opportunity for that is the Model 3, the $35,000 sedan that has fetched almost 400,000 pre-orders since its March 31 unveiling.

It’s true that Musk is unlikely to meet his own late 2017 deadline for delivering the Model 3. His earlier models have come one, two, and almost four years past deadline; there’s little reason to believe his timing on the Model 3—or on any of the stretch goals he announced this week—will be much better.

Yet, though Musk has been late, he has also eventually met every major goal he has set for Tesla. In focusing now on Tesla’s manufacturing, he sends a clear message: No one knows better than he that the electric car race is now his to lose.—Steve LeVine


Most companies will die before their 50th birthday. A new EY report suggests that almost half of today’s leading organizations will not survive another decade. Much of this decline is driven by companies relying on old remedies to cure new corporate challenges. But savvy leaders are recognizing that the ideal treatment is innovation through corporate venture capital (CVC).Advertisement


Has China won Facebook? Chinese media outlets have gained gigantic fan bases on Facebook, despite the social network being blocked in China. Are they incredibly savvy at appealing to foreigners? Or are they accumulating fake users via click farms? Heather Timmons and Josh Hurwitz do some digging and uncover an interesting—but thorny—dilemma for Facebook.

Brexit could decimate the English premier league. England’s best soccer clubs depend heavily on foreign—especially European—talent. And under Football Association rules, many current players wouldn’t qualify for a visa if Britain votes to leave the EU in June. Aamna Mohdin and Joon Ian Wong analyze the future of English football. Plus: Jason Karaian on the lessons Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri has for business leaders everywhere.

Why Jamaicans worship an Ethiopian king. Rebekah Kebede, an Ethiopian who lives in Jamaica, was always puzzled by why Jamaican Rastafarians thought Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie was divine. So when Selassie’s grandson came to Jamaica this month, she used his visit to understand how black Jamaicans used Ethiopian history to helpovercome their own background of slavery and oppression.

The problem with tortillas. Ana Campoy always wondered why US supermarkets sell papery, pale imitations of the tasty, supple corn tortillas she grew up with in Mexico. So she tried making her own from scratch, failed miserably, and in the process discovered what this humble disk of ground corn tells us about North America’s social and economic evolution.

The Vagina Monologues in a male prison. How does a roomful of violent male convicts react to one of the most unabashed feminist texts ever written? Hanna Kozlowska and Siyi Chen went to film the performance and talk to the actors and audience about an extraordinary meeting of cultures and mindsets.


Bringing birds back from the dead. What would happen if the dodo was reintroduced to nature? For Audobon, Rachel Nuwer writes about researchers in the fascinating field of “de-extinction.” If some long-gone birds were brought back, as some think they should, they might roam far more widely than before, considering changes to the climate since their demise. “It won’t help conservation efforts to bring back a species only to find that it’s invasive,” she notes.

America is ripe for tyranny. For New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan sees a chilling prophecy of the collapse of modern American democracy in the writings of Plato. Essentially, he argues, social and technological changes have made democracy too democratic, giving demagogues like Donald Trump the power to derail the elites who traditionally kept governance within sane bounds.

A “morning-after” pill for fear? The New Republic’s Ben Crair reports on a clinical psychologist in Amsterdam who uses a drug called propranolol to “neutralize” patients’ memories, reportedly curing them of panic attacks and phobias. It could be life-changing for trauma survivors—but critics argue that it risks plunging us into a real-life Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Atlantic City is sinking. Casinos will be fine, but floods in the city are becoming a routine. In National Geographic, Michael Edison Hayden looks at one of the places that’s already paying the price of climate change, showing how a worsening environment exacerbates inequality by dividing the population between those who can leave, and the ones who are forced to stay.

David Attenborough is turning 90. In homage to everyone’s favorite naturalist, the man with the “velvet voice,” Ed Yong re-watched Attenborough’s entire Life Collection of nature documentaries—79 episodes spanning 29 years—ranked them, and catalogued each one’s highlights and number of Attenborough appearances. It’s a 14,000-word breakneck tour of the world’s species and a study in sheer adulation.

Our best wishes for a relaxing but thought-filled weekend. Please send any news, comments, authentic tortillas, and birthday messages for David Attenborough to hi@qz.com. You can follow us on Twitter here for updates throughout the day.



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