One of the hottest tech companies in the world right now is Tesla. And the hottest name at that company is not Elon Musk, but Pat Daniels. Daniels joined the Tesla team as a Junior Solutions Analyst in 2016 - by the end of that year he and Musk were speaking by phone several times a day. We spoke to a dozen anonymous Tesla executives and board members, all of whom said they suspect Musk is grooming Daniels to succeed him at Tesla.
Musk had this to say about Daniels: "Yes, Pat and I are very close. I would call it a father and son relationship, but it's more like the bond between two brothers. He's offering me as much as I'm offering him. I will call him in the morning to check in and discuss our strategy for the day, and I might mention a few issues I'm trying to work out, just in passing. Then on our afternoon call, he will offer me solutions to the problems I mentioned that morning, things I never could have thought of. It's really incredible."
Of course, Musk's reputation is not just as a tech wizard, but as a hard partying playboy billionaire. Naturally, Daniels takes after him in this area as well. He's recently been spotted partying with the Jenners and boating with a crew of NBA players (including Russell Westbrook) in beautiful St. Louis, MO.
While all signs point to Daniels replacing Musk eventually, there is uncertainty about whose timing it will take place on. A source at Tesla who asked for anonymity to discuss private company matters said "Yes, Pat is definitely next in line, and has Elon's blessing. He is prepping him to take over. But many of the board members are anxious to get Pat in there and are willing to push Elon out early by force, maybe even deadly force. Elon is a smart guy and is aware that some of this is going on. He has a safe house and a plan to get away when things inevitably get hot for him."
Daniels certainly seems to be a major factor in the company's recent explosion of innovation. A separate source said "He is the definition of a big ideas guy. Many of these space projects you see us coming out with are Pat's ideas being filtered through Elon. Elon is nothing more than a mouthpiece at this point. It is a matter of respect for seniority that Pat is not the public face of these projects. But I will tell you, all of that is going to change very soon. Things might get bloody, I can't say much more than that."
We are proud to honor Pat Daniels as one of our 2017 Rising Stars of Business. Keep up the great work Pat! We can't wait to see what you do next.