DETROIT -- How does CEO Elon Musk make the "magic happen" at Tesla Motors?
It's easy: "You know, a little red wine, vintage record player, some Ambien," he said in response to a question submitted via Twitter at the company's annual shareholders meeting Tuesday night. "Magic happens."
While the comment isn't out of the ordinary for Musk, who also has tweeted about using cocaine to stay awake, it is the most recent example of the double standard occurring in today's automotive industry between Silicon Valley and Detroit.
Imagine the reaction of Wall Street and shareholders if General Motors CEO and Chairman Mary Barra had made those remarks during the company's shareholder meeting, which occurred earlier in the day more than 2,000 miles away at its Detroit headquarters.
Barra and Musk
Instead, Barra faced a barrage of questions from media and shareholders in attendance at its meeting about the company's stalling stock price, alleged firings of injured workers in Colombia and separating the chairman and CEO roles.
None were new issues. In fact, many were the same questions Dan Akerson, Barra's predecessor, faced six years ago during the company's first post-bankruptcy shareholders meeting.
However, back then the company wasn't recording record profits, conducting billions in stock buybacks or taking swift actions to right-size its business operations globally.
"We are going to continue to look to differentiate ourselves," Barra told media Tuesday. "Not only in our performance and the fact that we want to make sure we outperform throughout the cycle ... but also making sure people understand all the assets that we have and we bring to the future of personal mobility."
Musk addressed some criticism surrounding Tesla's recent cash-burning and safety concerns, but didn't even mention the company's stock. He instead spent much of his nearly hour-long "presentation," like he typically does, vaguely discussing the company's near- and long-term ambitions that included new plants, "infinite-year" warranties for solar shingles and simplifying production operations after botching production of the Tesla Model X.
Those plans were in addition to Musk answering questions submitted via Twitter about what he likes to do in his free time, the possibility of battery-powered airplanes and nuclear fusion reactors fitting in Tesla vehicles.
Musk several times had the crowd laughing, even cheering.
"I always love these shareholder meetings," Musk said. "I tell people … 'it always feels like a party … and they're like, really? That's not like normal shareholder meetings.' "
Barra had to tell shareholders to please limit statements and questions to two minutes, while maintaining a straight face when one man at the end of the meeting got up to simply reference Jeff Bridges' 1973 racing film The Last American Hero.
Wall Street reaction
Neither meeting -- separated by eight hours and more than 2,000 miles -- moved Wall Street's needle.
GM shares dropped slightly during its meeting, while Tesla shares remained level as it conducted its meeting during after-hours trading.
For the day, GM was down 0.1 percent to $34.43 per share, while Tesla was up 1.6 percent to $352.85. Many would expect those prices to be switched, but it's the latest in a long line of bizarre behavior that has made Tesla, an automaker that has never turned an annual profit, the highest-valued automaker in North America.
To put it into perspective, since GM's $33-per-share IPO in November 2010, Tesla shares have increased 1,644 percent from $20.23. GM has increased just over 4 percent during that same time period.
Maybe Barra should attempt to dig out the record player, stop consistently making profits and see what "magic" happens.