Original question from Quora:

Why is everyone into Tesla lately?

Is it because people could no longer afford the gas prices (which I doubt) or they need a change in technology of their ride? The Model S is too expensive compared to gas expenses per month. I don’t think it is worth it unless all hydrocarbons are depleted from earth. What does others think?

My Answer:

The reason people are talking about Tesla so much is a bizarre side effect of human nature and a secret of all forms of media. Allow me to explain…

Have you ever written an article or published anything on the internet before? Wait we are on Quora, have you ever answered a Quora question before?

There is something funny about Quora, we can see the stats of how much a question has been viewed before. This question has 146,437 views so far. If you are reading this, it’s at least one higher than that. :-)

Of course, what does that have to do with Tesla? Well…

Imagine you asked a question about the use of low power AM radio to play 1930’s era jazz music in Antartica. How many views do you think that would get? I’m guessing about 12.

Why? The answer is simple, not many people care about low power AM radio, 1930’s era jazz, or Antartica. Put them together and even fewer people care. There is always at least one person who cares about what you write about, but sometimes there’s not much more than two.

Now, the reason people are so crazy about Tesla is that Tesla as a car company is interesting. They are bold and different in almost everything they do.

For example, Elon Musk’s various ventures, including Tesla, have made him famous. Musk also is a bit of a showman and put himself front and center for every announcement.

That creates a story about the company and Elon himself that is worth telling.

People love a good story. It makes them pay attention.

Which brings us to the echo chamber of attention known as media. The first thing to understand about all forms of media is that it’s 100% about capturing attention to sell advertising.

The more attention you have, the more money you make.

Since everybody wants to make more money, they will do what they need to do to get attention. Tesla and Elon Musk are interesting. People pay attention to them.

So, when someone writes an article, does a video, or even writes a Quora question (like this one) about Elon Musk or Tesla Motors or SpaceX, you have a lot of people who will pay attention.

But it doesn’t end there…

Once it is known that stories about Tesla do well to get attention, media companies want to run more stories about Tesla. And the better those stories do, they run even more stories.

Eventually it’s like what you see with Apple, a constant stream of media about all things Tesla.

The end effect is with everyone talking about Tesla, a lot of people buy Tesla cars, and the attention bounces back and forth to create an ever larger interest in Tesla.

At some point Tesla is famous for being famous and it is a de-facto celebrity in business form. People talk about it because other people talk about it.

It’s popular because it’s popular.

That is not to say that Teslas are bad products at all. As I said, they are interesting and different and struck a chord with people that Ford, Chevy, Chrysler and everyone else haven’t.

That is impressive on its own when you think about the fact that starting a new car company is nearly impossible.

And ultimately, the long term success of Tesla is going to come down to their ability to deliver on the hype. So far it’s working, but 50 years ago General Motors was king, and before that Ford was.

What you are seeing now is a remarkable moment that won’t last forever.

-Brian

P.S. I unpack more ideas in Creative Genius.