Elon Musk's Famous Smile is Fading Fast
It’s a brand that’s arguably as famous as any 21st century tech company — including the three greats: Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Google (now Alphabet Inc.) (NASDAQ: GOOG), and Facebook (NASDAQ: FB).
Since it first became known nearly a decade ago, when it released the Roadster electric supercar, Tesla has dominated the headlines with the coolest and most sought-after big-ticket products consumers can own today.
The company singlehandedly stripped the electric car’s reputation for being a boring, limp, and uninspiring alternative to traditional automobiles and turned it into the hippest thing on four wheels.
Its first model, the Roadster, showed the world that you could race a Ferrari while putting out zero emissions.
Its second model, the S, showed the world that you could let your car drive itself, and not just race a Ferrari but beat one, still making zero emissions.
Then came the Model X SUV, and finally the Model 3, which completed the circle by making it available to mass consumers for prices rivaling the most popular models built by companies like Toyota, Honda, and Ford.
It also completed the company's inside joke, with the three characters spelling out S3X (that was no accident).
Adolescent humor aside, the company went from novel idea to mainstream auto brand in just a few years.
Its technology, and the stylish packaging, was just half of the equation.
The other half was the man who started it all — billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.
His face has become as recognizable as the logo and the product it appears on.
Every step of the way, alongside every new product, his smile and voice have pushed the products farther and farther into our brains and the company’s sales through the roof.
Only a proper James Bond villain could rival this man in terms of wealth or charisma.
The company grew by a factor of 10 in less than a decade, going from a $2.7 billion upstart to a $37 billion giant.
In turn, Elon Musk’s reputation for being a business magnate became global, and his personal fortune ballooned to $12 billion.
More Products... More Domination... A $16 Billion Market, Created
But all that wasn’t enough. Musk couldn’t be satisfied merely building the world’s most desired and best-selling electric cars, or with billions of dollars in the bank, or even with his own aerospace company, SpaceX.
At the ripe old age of 43, he announced that Tesla would be spending $5 billion on the world’s biggest battery manufacturing facility — the Gigafactory, as he nicknamed it.
That factory, which would be built in Nevada, would double the world’s lithium battery production capacity all by itself and would allow Tesla to produce all of the batteries it needed for its cars.
It was the easily the biggest tech story of the year, with Musk garnering even more of what he loved just as much as success itself: attention.
The very next year, however, Musk threw yet another curveball when he announced that this new Gigafactory, which was still under construction, would be producing another product...
Something that didn’t seem related to cars at all.
The Future is in Batteries
He announced the Powerwall home energy storage system — basically a giant battery homeowners could use to manage the energy they bought from power companies, as well as the power they produced using common domestic energy generators such as solar panels.
It was indeed a surprise, but not as big as the one that came the week after he announced this new product.
Tesla received over $800 million in pre-sales for this new line of products, an innovation that promised to revolutionize aging power grids across the U.S. and the world and help usher in a greener, more carbon-free future for everyone.
Musk went public proclaiming that there were so many orders that even his $5 billion Gigafactory was now far too small to supply both Powerwall demand and the automotive lithium battery demanded by its own cars.
That same year, Tesla’s Model S became the best-selling car in its class.
It looked like Musk and Tesla were on the way to becoming the biggest tech brand of the century.
Forget Apple or Google or Facebook... Tesla was attacking and dominating one major industry, automobiles, while inventing a brand new one.
The final surprise, however, was yet to come.
Only this time, the shock would be two-fold: Elon Musk would be the one on the receiving end.
Just a few weeks ago, one of Tesla’s biggest clients — Daimler, parent company of the Mercedes brand — which had been buying batteries from Tesla for its own line of electrical vehicles, told Elon Musk and his company that their services would no longer be needed.
It was the biggest hit to the mushrooming tech company since its very inception, not to mention to the ego of its figurehead founder.
Daimler decided that it would no longer need Tesla’s products because it’d found a better solution.
A Single Deal… The Huge Crack in Tesla’s Armor
Daimler canceling its contract with Tesla showed TWO major weaknesses in Elon Musk’s plan.
First of all, Daimler could make its own batteries for less.
And second, Tesla didn’t make a crucial component necessary to run those batteries — the power control systems — for its batteries at all.
It had them made by a third party.
Daimler, however, didn’t choose that third party for its own needs.
It chose another company... a company nobody had heard of up until then... a company that had been working on a domestic power storage system, much like the Powerwall, and had developed this groundbreaking new power control system in the process.
Though this information hasn't been made public yet by either Daimler or its new supplier (it's still officially a secret), just a couple Google searches put the pieces together.
The clues necessary to figure this riddle out weren't available to everyone, but I had an advantage.
I knew the name of this new supplier already, and although nobody from the company dared speak the name of the "major German automaker" they'd signed as a client, there was only one that had just broken a long-standing relationship with the world's most famous brand of large lithium-ion batteries.
The company was tiny.
Less than $40 million in total market capitalization, with just a few dozen employees.
When I first heard about it, I had my doubts, of course.
The story seemed too good to be true, and my cold, rational investment mind was fighting the urge to get excited at the prospect of a one-in-a-million hit.
Not only did this company beat Tesla in making batteries that were smaller, cheaper, easier to install, and far better in terms of capacity, but it also made the electronic brains which controlled them.
Systems which were compatible with all the batteries on the market — making them the go-to supplier for anybody interested in using large lithium-ion batteries, regardless of the application.
After all of Elon Musk’s hype, all of the talk about pre-orders and his multibillion-dollar "Gigafactory" being too small, this little upstart comes out of nowhere, steals one of his biggest clients, and then beats his famous technology.
These scenarios are common, but once in a while, they do come together.
It was exactly how major companies — including all three of the major tech brands I mentioned in the beginning — achieved meteoric success.
It’s exactly how Tesla itself turned the electric car industry on its head in the first place: by making something better than everyone else.
Nobody thought that the same thing would end up happening to Tesla, but right now, as I sit here reading the latest news released to the public about this company, it’s exactly what I’m seeing.
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Give Credit Where It’s Due
A few short years from now, when this company has risen to be a billion-dollar tech brand in its own right, it will still have one outsider to thank for its success... at least in part.
You see, if not for Musk’s passionate promotion of the Powerwall, the domestic power storage industry itself would never have gotten the attention it did.
That attention is what brings in new clients and what allows competitors to rise and challenge the champion.
When it comes to the future of power storage, however, this little upstart has already surpassed Tesla’s potential by a long shot.
Its batteries are so superior to the Powerwall that a single unit, installed in under two hours by just a pair of workers, can do the same work as two Powerwalls at a far lower price and, of course, fully equipped with a proprietary power control system.
For larger clients such as businesses, this company makes a line of commercial batteries.
The power control system, which comes with its batteries, is also available independently to clients who have their own batteries... companies just like Daimler.
Put it all together, and it doesn’t take Warren Buffett to see the opportunities.
Secrets This Big... Don't Stay Secret For Long
An industry-beating product... superior pricing... unheard-of efficiency... clients already stolen from a competitor more that’s more than 500 times larger...
All trading today at just fractions of a penny on the dollar compared to where it will likely be by the end of 2017.
Companies like this usually don’t go public until they’re well past the billion-dollar mark.
Getting in on the ground floor of companies like this is usually only open to already wealthy, well-connected investors.
Investors like the kind you read about in Fortune magazine.
And that’s the final piece of the puzzle.
You see, this company is already public. You can own shares of its stock in just a few minutes if you wanted to.
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Fortune favors the bold,
Coming to us from an already impressive career as an independent trader and private investor, Alex's specialty is in the often misunderstood but highly profitable development-stage microcap sector. Focusing on young, aggressive, innovative biotech and technology firms from the U.S. and Canada, Alex has built a track record most Wall Street hedge funders would envy. Alex contributes his thoughts and insights regularly to Wealth Daily. To learn more about Alex, click here.
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