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Elon Musk: Convince 10 People to Buy a Tesla and You Might Get the Car for Free

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, who's revolutionizing batteries and taking humans into space, is selling his cars the good ol' fashioned way: word of mouth.

Want to save money on your next Tesla purchase, like the forthcoming Model X pictured above? Convince a friend (or 10 better yet) to buy one. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

In an email he sent to current Tesla owners, Musk described an experimental referral program designed to boost sales of the luxury electric car through Oct. 31. Tesla will give owners $1,000 for every person they convince to buy a new Model S. The new owner will also get a $1,000 discount.

And "just for fun," Musk added, if an owner can convince five people to purchase the car, they and a guest will be invited to tour their massive Gigafactory in Nevada and attend the grand opening party. Convince 10 people to buy a Tesla, then that person (who apparently runs with a wealthy group of friends) earns the right to join a very exclusive club—the opportunity to purchase the company's SUV, the Founder Series Model X, with all the options for free plus the $10,000 referral credit. The forthcoming car is estimated at $50-60,000. To up the ante, the first person to reach ten referrals wins the entire car for free.

Wonder if LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (who probably can afford a few Teslas already) is trying to recruit a few new drivers ...

What's the reason behind the new sales scheme? Musk said that stores are quite expensive to set up and operate, and costs about $2,000 to sell a car through a store. And in a conference call with reporters, Musk also pointed out that the reason his company devised this referral program was to get around the car maker's difficulty in setting up stores in states that have banned Tesla from direct sales.

As I wrote previously, Tesla prefers to sell its vehicles by cutting out the middleman of franchised car dealerships. For people interested in buying a Tesla, you can buy it online or from a company-owned store from states that allow direct sales. However, many states have blocked Tesla’s direct sales approach, saying they prefer to distribute cars to consumers the conventional way in an effort to protect small businesses.

Turning Tesla's network of drivers into recruiters seems like a good way to get around those pesky state bans.

“This is a way for us to have a guerrilla battle with some of the car dealer associations,” Musk said. "Tesla reps are not allowed to sell in certain states—we are held back by some legislation."

"We don’t know if this will have a meaningful impact on the cost of sales," Musk also said. "If not it will be an interesting experiment and we’ll leave it there."

Here's the email that Musk sent to customers:

Word of mouth has always been a major part of how Tesla sales have grown. When I meet Tesla owners, one of the first things they often tell me is how they have convinced many others to buy the car.

As you may already know, Tesla does not advertise or pay for endorsements or product placement. Maybe by doing so we could sell more cars, but I don't like the idea of trying to trick people into buying a product by false association. If you see somebody famous driving a Model S, it is because they genuinely like the car. If you see it in a movie or TV show, it is because the people associated with that production genuinely like the car.

Besides word of mouth, another way that our cars are sold is through stores. These will always be important to allow people to check out new models and ask our product specialists detailed questions. However, stores are quite expensive to set up and operate. In reviewing the Tesla cost of sales, we found that it is approximately $2,000 to sell a car through our stores, higher in some regions and lower in others.

Both ways of reaching potential customers are important, but, if we can amplify word of mouth, then we don't need to open as many new stores in the future. So, we are going to try an experiment. This is similar to the customer growth program that I worked on at PayPal/X.com back in '99. What worked for PayPal may not work for Tesla, but it is worth trying, as the net result would be lowering our costs by $2,000, allowing us to give that money to our customers.

From now through October 31st, if someone buys a new Model S through your link (XX include link XX), they will get $1,000 off the purchase price and you will get a $1,000 credit in your Tesla account, which can be applied to a future car purchase, service charge or accessories. To put some limits on the experiment, each Tesla owner can grant a maximum of ten $1,000 discounts.

Just for fun, there will also be some things that money can't buy. If five of your friends order a Model S, you and a guest will receive an invitation to tour the Gigafactory in Nevada - the world's biggest factory by footprint—and attend the grand opening party. This will be awesome. At ten orders, you get the right to purchase a Founder Series Model X, which is not available to the public, with all options free (value of about $25,000). The first person to reach ten will get the entire car for free.

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The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

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What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

The majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients improve within a few weeks and eventually can make a full recovery. However, some patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome have lingering symptoms including weakness and abnormal sensations in arms and/or legs; rarely patients may be bedridden or disabled long-term.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

Though Guillain-Barre Syndrome is rare, it is well known to emerge following bacterial infections, such as Campylobacter jejuni, a common cause of food poisoning, and a multitude of viral infections including the flu virus, Zika virus and other coronaviruses.

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The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

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Due to the pandemic and infection-containment considerations, diagnostic tests, such as a nerve conduction study that used to be routine for patients with suspected Guillain-Barre Syndrome, are more difficult to do. In both U.S. cases, the initial diagnosis and treatment were all based on clinical examination by a neurological experts rather than any tests. Both patients survived but with significant residual weakness at the time these case reports came out, but that is not uncommon for Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients. The road to recovery may sometimes be long, but many patients can make a full recovery with time.

Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


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Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

On the life-or-death matter of reforming America's dysfunctional private health insurance system—a subject on which Sanders and Biden clashed repeatedly throughout the Democratic primary process—the Unity Task Force affirmed healthcare as "a right" but did not embrace Medicare for All, the signature policy plank of the Vermont senator's presidential bid.

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Marisa Franco, director of immigrant rights group Mijente, said in a statement that "going into these task force negotiations, we knew we were going to have to push Biden past his comfort zone, both to reconcile with past offenses and to carve a new path forward."

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"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.