To say Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SpaceX is driven is the acme of understatement. His drive is matched only by how hard he pushes his employees. Those that work with him love to work with him, those that have left his employ are almost to a person unwilling to go on record about their former employer. Elon Musk is also quite difficult to invest with if he doesn’t like you or your venture capital firm’s terms. Last year in an interview, Musk mentioned that is was the actions of one of the firm’s partners that kept them from a piece of Tesla, which is now doing terrifically well. Musk declined to give the name of this partner, but Bloomberg stepped into the gap today to provide the name—Ray Lane.
Tesla Motors’ partnership dilemma
Apparently, Musk was deciding whether to take $70 million from VantagePoint Capital Partners or $50 million from Kleiner Perkins. Musk was willing to take the lower offer but insisted that one of Kleiner Perkins’ partners, John Doerr, take a seat on Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s board. Mr. Doerr declined citing prior commitments and another partner he did not wish to supplant.
Ray Lane’s demands
Now it has come to light that Ray Lane demanded a spot on the board, something that Musk was unwilling to offer. Musk moved on and Lane began pushing Kleiner Perkins to invest in Fisker Automotives. KP made one of its biggest investments in its history and placed Ray Lane on Fisker’s board to watch after its investments. If you’re not familiar with Fisker, a “competitor” to Tesla, they are presently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy after burning through nearly a billion dollars.
This escapade not only lost Ray Lane a full partnership but tens of millions for Kleiner Perkins. As a consolation and a charitable one at that, Lane was made a partner emeritus.
To add insult to injury, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has gone on to be a Wall Street darling while Lane has been investigated for tax irregularities, been the butt of jokes regarding Kleiner Perkins’ poor investing track record in green technologies, and lost his seat as chairman of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ). All this while Musk dreams of dying on Mars, “Just not on impact.”