Tesla shareholder Tencent helps Elon Musk regardless of Twitter distraction

A Tesla store in Changzhou, China, in April 2022. Tencent, known as one of the world’s largest gaming and social media companies, invested in Tesla in 2017, acquiring a 5% stake for around US$1.78 billion .

Sheldon Cooper | Sopa Pictures | Light Rocket | Getty Images

Tesla will “drive us insane” with technology even as CEO Elon Musk is distracted with Twitter, according to the executive who led an investment by the Chinese tech giant Tencent in the US electric car manufacturer.

Tencent, known as one of the world’s largest gaming and social media companies, invested in Tesla in 2017, acquiring a 5% stake for around $1.78 billion.

“We saw tremendous potential within the company, in the EV (electric vehicle) category, but also great respect for the way Elon is driving the company forward,” said David Wallerstein, chief “eXploration” officer (CXO) at Tencent CNBC in an interview on Thursday.

As CXO, Wallerstein’s role is to invest in new technologies for Tencent.

He said that when Tencent made the investment, “it wasn’t so clear that they were going to survive and that electric vehicles were actually going to survive.”

Since then, Tesla has grown into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electric cars. In 2022, 1.31 million cars were delivered.

But last year Musk bought Twitter, a move investors saw as a major distraction for the billionaire at a time when Tesla needed a steady hand. Tesla stock is down about 62% over the past year.

Wallerstein said that despite the distraction, he still has faith in Tesla.

“When a leader is distracted by many companies, it is certainly difficult to focus and Elon has many projects. I think they’re still doing a great job,” Wallerstein said.

He added that there will likely be several competitors, but that will be “really good for the planet” as electric car sales pick up.

“I would rely on her [Tesla] always blowing our minds with what they’re doing with technology,” Wallerstein said.

Tencent is a prolific investor in many different industries, from gaming to e-commerce. But the company recently sold part of its stake amid a tighter regulatory environment in China.

But Wallerstein is looking for investments in next-generation areas that could help fight global challenges like climate change. Tencent has invested in companies like Chinese electric vehicles no and the German “flying” car company Lilium.

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