Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe on Ignoring Musk and Learning from Bezos

How do you read what’s happening in Detroit right now, where the United Auto Workers is striking the major automakers?

Organized labor is a decision of the workforce, if the workforce wants to be organized, you know, organized into a union…

Would you welcome organized labor?

We believe the most effective relationship has a direct relationship. And I believe this, not just with our employees, I believe it broadly. We don’t believe in intermediaries. Every car company with the exception of ourselves and Tesla pays a third party to sell their products, they pay dealers 10 to 15 percent. Those intermediaries create a lot of friction. I think the same is true for an intermediary that’s charging essentially a service fee to employees to act on behalf of the employees, which is what a union will do. We’re watching this. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of tension. I don’t think either side is being represented well, I don’t think the manufacturers or the employees are going to benefit from these collective actions.

One issue is the exorbitant pay that CEOs receive, especially compared to line workers. Do you think CEOs of auto companies should be making less?

There’s market rates for things. And so if someone decides to pursue a career in artificial intelligence, versus someone that decides to pursue a career in, let’s say, manufacturing, the competition for talent, and the competition for those skill sets is different.

Do you think the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay in this country is healthy? I mean, of course there’s market rates, but in some places, it’s just out of control.

There’s definitely examples of it being wrong. The other thing to recognize is a lot of the packages that often get looked at, a lot of it’s equity. A lot of it’s built upon creating value. It’s at risk pay, meaning if the business doesn’t grow in value, the compensation isn’t realized. But that’s something that has to be thought about. One has to think about making sure that the compensation levels across the business are effectively rewarding all the hard work that goes in across all parts of the company.

Do you think the Cybertruck is pretty or ugly?

I think it’s cool that there are products like it that exist. It’s a really unfortunate part of where we are from a societal point of view, that everything needs to be pitched into: For this to win, something else has to lose…

That wasn’t my question, though.

Personally, it’s not something I would buy. But I think it’s cool that it exists. I think it’s good that there’s a diversity of products. I think it’s good that there’s cool choices. I’m a car enthusiast at heart. I like to see people putting different things in the world.

You’ve bought Teslas in the past. Why won’t you buy this one?

It’s a matter of personal choice. personal taste. It’s not for me, but I know it’s gonna be for someone.

Alex Kantrowitz is the host of Big Technology Podcast and the author of Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Play to Stay on Top Forever.

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