FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Siemens (SIEGn.DE) Chief Executive Joe Kaeser on Friday lamented Germans who fail to recognize true visionaries and instead admire pot smokers who talk about space travel, only days after his deputy praised Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
FILE PHOTO: Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser looks on before visit of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the company’s plant in Goerlitz, Germany, July 15, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo
“Amusing opinions in our country: When a German chief executive proactively orients his company toward the future, he is regarded as ‘lofty’ and ‘philosophical’. When a pot smoking colleague in the United States talks about Peterchen’s moon ride, he is an admired visionary,” Kaeser tweeted, referring to a German children’s story about space travel.
Siemens declined to comment on the tweet, which came days after Siemens Deputy Chief Executive Roland Busch, who is German, described Tesla’s (TSLA.O) Musk as a “visionary.”
Kaeser’s statement sparked a lively debate on social media, with the Siemens CEO later seeking to clarify his comments.
In an exchange with a journalist from a business daily, Kaeser said in a tweet on Saturday that there was no need for wild speculation and efforts to draw references to Busch’s remark about Musk.
“This is NOT AT ALL about Mr. Busch and/or Mr. Musk,” Kaeser said, adding that his aim was rather to draw attention to entrepreneurial spirit in Germany and the declining relevance of German companies.
Musk provoked a Twitter storm last year after briefly smoking marijuana on a live web show with comedian Joe Rogan.
In September Siemens promoted Busch to deputy CEO, putting him in pole position to replace Kaeser as head of the German engineering giant.
On Oct. 31, Busch tweeted, “Great to meet w/ @elonmusk, a true visionary of our times. Talked about #FutureofMobility, rapid deployment of car charging enabling #electric mobility, advanced manufacturing & rocket engineering. We’re proud @Siemens’ #technology is supporting Elon’s most exciting dreams.”
At the company’s annual news conference this week, Busch said Musk’s electric car maker Tesla and SpaceX, which makes rockets, are big customers for Siemens’ digital industries businesses.
Reporting by Edward Taylor and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Louise Heavens and Helen Popper