Despite Elon Musk’s distractions, Tesla will continue to “blow our minds,” says shareholder Tencent

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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, taking a 5% stake for approximately $1.78 billion.

Sheldon Cooper | Sopa Images | Rocket | Getty Images

Tesla will “keep blowing our minds” with technology even as CEO Elon Musk is distracted with Twitter, according to the executive who spearheaded an investment from the Chinese tech giant tencent in the American manufacturer of electric cars.

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

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

As CXO, Wallerstein is tasked with investing in emerging technology for Tencent.

He said that when Tencent made the investment, “it wasn’t so clear that they would survive and electric cars would actually survive.”

Since then, Tesla has grown to become one of the world’s largest electric car manufacturers. In 2022, it delivered 1.31 million cars.

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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 he still has faith in Tesla despite the distraction.

“Certainly, when a leader gets distracted by a lot of companies, it’s hard to focus and Elon has a lot of projects. I think they’re still doing a great job,” said Wallerstein.

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

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“I would count on them [Tesla] to continue to amaze us with what they are doing with technology,” Wallerstein said.

Tencent is a prolific investor in many different industries ranging from gaming to e-commerce. But the company recently sold some of its stake amid tighter regulations in China.

But Wallerstein is on the hunt for investments in next-generation areas that can help fight global challenges like climate change. Tencent has invested in companies such as Chinese electric vehicles Nio and the German “flying” car company Lilium.

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