Elon Musk has many guises. The ascetic is his latest. Tesla announced disappointing first-quarter results last week. The US electric carmaker delivered a modest 51,000 of the Model 3 vehicle, a fifth less than the previous period. Its cash balance has dipped to a paltry $2.2bn. Worries are mounting over the funding needs ramped-up production may impose. Yet Musk played it cool. He conceded there was some “merit” in going to Wall Street hat in hand. But he also said “it is healthy to be on a Spartan diet for a while”, alluding to the discipline that could build a lean and mean Tesla. Initial public offerings from the likes of Lyft and Pinterest in 2019 show that public market investors are willing to pour money into companies with questionable prospects for sustained profitability. They are willing to make a binary bet on the great unknown that is “total addressable market”. Tesla shares are down 25% in 2019. Musk would be wise to swallow his pride and raise cash while the market is ...

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