Why Should I Read | Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk is going to Mars.

Everything about his life is submitted to the litmus test of whether it furthers his dream that humans must be a multi-planetary species.

Before we go on, think about the level of vision that it takes to even consider mounting an assault on the challenges of colonizing another planet.

mars.jpg

NASA Photo of Mars

Even if we stop right there and I don’t share anything else about the book, you can get a feel of the tenacity and grit Elon possesses.

We’ll quick cover a bit about his history, the vision for his two companies, and some controversy surrounding this figure.

Growing up in South Africa, Elon escaped the reality of constant bullying and a harsh father through reading and programming. His first video game he designed and built at 12 years old. He was already looking for ways to control or escape his reality.

After emigrating to Canada and then the US, he founded an Internet company, Zip2, rather than starting a PH.D. Program he had already been accepted into at Stanford.

After selling Zip2 his next venture, X.com, merged with PayPal and eventually sold to eBay for 1.5 billion.

This buyout allowed him to start first SpaceX, and then buy into Tesla early enough to make him a co-founder.

Things were not all rosy however, SpaceX struggled to get any rocket into the air for more than 90 seconds and any space company unable to get to space has, as we tell Houston, a problem.

Eventually they succeeded, but not after depleting much of Elon’s fortune. And he was being pressed from both sides as the early days of Tesla were not much better.

Elon’s goal with Tesla is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transportation. The master plan was (and is) to produce an expensive sports car, move on and add scale for a luxury sedan, and eventually mass produce an affordable model that the everyman can own.

The problem was, the first roadster was listed for thousands less than production cost. Towards the end of 2008, Elon was down to less than $100,000 to his name and needed to raise more venture capital to even keep his doors open.

Obviously today it’s becoming more difficult to find someone who doesn’t recognize the name Elon Musk, so he must have turned the companies around, but I’ll leave the details to your imagination until you go read it yourself.

Today, SpaceX is the only private company to ever deliver cargo to the International Space Station and they are exploring methods for making rocket fuel from chemicals found on the surface of mars (who else thinks to build gas stations on mars!)

long exposure rocket launch.jpg

Long exposure photo of a SpaceX launch

Tesla today has had over 80,000 orders this year alone for  the luxury sedan: the Model S, according to CNN Money.  They also have hundreds of thousands of pre-orders for the upcoming Model 3, the “everyman’s” car.

Things are not out of the woods yet for Musk. Tesla has yet to post any profit, according to the CNN article, and SpaceX could be derailed by public opinion if and when they reach a point of transporting humans and a rocket blows up.

Musk is working to revolutionize multiple industries like only a few others have ever attempted, much less accomplished. But this is not without toll on the people around him. He has gone through three divorces and a former employee says that while he inspires trust and admiration, “he seems to have no capacity for human connection, instead viewing others as pawns to be played, or ammunition to be spent in the pursuit of a target.”

In short, the technical aspects of this book are accessible and you’ll enjoy learning about the bleeding edge of technological entrepreneurs. I recommend this book to anyone interested in high achievement or changing the world.

However, Silicone Valley has a saying that goes around start-ups, “be like Elon,” and while I certainly respect his accomplishments I wouldn’t encourage you to emulate his attitude towards others or his personal life.

Until next week,

Keep reading, friends!

Ps. I’ll update this post with hyperlinks and images soon, I’m just done with a road trip today after being away from home for two weeks.

Follow me on Twitter! https://www.twitter.com/jondelange

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