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Tesla’s store guru exits the building

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One of Tesla’s top sales executives and the creator of its store experience — George Blankenship — left the company earlier this month, according to Blankenship’s LinkedIn page, and first reported by the San Jose Mercury News Thursday. Blankenship is a former Apple VP who helped craft Apple’s stores, and now lists his job on LinkedIn as “Director of Smiles” and “Blankenship Family Planner.”

On his LinkedIn page Blankenship also lists his previous roles at Tesla as well as: “November 2013 — Done at Tesla.” Tesla didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Blankenship told the San Jose Mercury News that he’s retiring to spend more time with his family.

George Blankenship at the launch of the Model S
George Blankenship at the launch of the Model S

I did an onstage interview with Blankenship at our Roadmap 2012 conference about the process he went through to design the Tesla store experience:

I also did a video interview him when the first experiential Tesla store opened on Santana Row in San Jose, California back in spring 2011. Blankenship’s motto at Tesla was to create a store that would put a smile on anyone’s face who walked in.

Tesla has had a tough month. There’s been three accident-related fires within the last few months and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation into the two fires that happened in the U.S. this week. They’re looking to see if Tesla needs to make any changes to the design of the flat battery pack on the bottom of the car. Tesla’s stock has also fallen in recent weeks to around $122.10 at closing.

3 Responses to “Tesla’s store guru exits the building”

  1. ellen post

    I believe the issues that Tesla faces are more basic. They
    involve: i) lack of maturity and integrity of their employees;
    and ii) lack of “quality control” in their product development.
    Here is the background/reasons on the above-mentioned charges.

    My wife and I signed a letter of intent with Tesla Company to purchase a car from them in October 2013. About a week later, we received an official contract via email from one of their “Delivery Experience Specialist,” Mr. Alexander Walker. My name
    in that contract was incorrect. (The last and first names were reversed.) We contacted Mr. Walker and notified him of this error; he told us that he would take care of it. We got a revised (second) contract from him; however, the revised one had the same error. We contacted him again via email, and got no response. We called him, and got no reply. We then got another (third) contract via email from him a couple of days later; however, it still contained the same error. We contacted Tesla headquarters, and complained about this issue. They told us not to worry since the problem would be fixed at the time of delivering the car and signing the final documents. When we went to get the car on November 3, 2013, Mr. Walker showed us the documents with the right names, and assured us that Maryland’s Department of Motor Vehicles would receive all the right information. When we inspected the car on that day, we noticed that the driver’s seat on the back side is not sewn together at the lower side and, as a result, the interior cushion was bulging out. Mr. Walker asked for a technician to check it. The technician just pushed the cushion inside, and they claimed that is the standard setting (unsewn?) for the seat; we later found out that is not true. One wonders if there is any “quality
    control” in their entire chain of ??? considering that: a) this car was built in California; b) shipped to New Jersey; and c)
    delivered in Maryland. Shouldn’t someone in any of these three
    places have noticed the problem?

    Anyway, a couple of weeks after we got the car, we received the registration and title of the car; my name was incorrect in all of them. When we contacted Mr. Walker, he claimed that he had submitted the correct information, and the problem was that my name is incorrect in the Maryland’s DMV database for the two other cars that we have in Maryland; this is an outright lie. We did check our records and contacted Maryland’s DMV; they said the mistake was from Tesla Company. I called a supervisor named Peter Welch at Tesla headquarters (at 650-681-5147) with regard to this about 10 days ago. The first time I called him, he did
    not (could not?) answer my phone; so, I left a message. I didn’t
    get a call back from him. Thus, I called him three more times
    until he picked up the phone. I asked him why he had not return
    my calls. He said he was busy helping a customer who had lost
    battery power on the road. (This is probably another lie. A
    person stranded on a highway needs a tow truck and not a
    “suit-guy” in a fancy office.) Anyway, he told me that he would
    look into this, however, he has not got back to us. He added
    some other lies while I was talking to him that I don’t wish to
    waste time with those.