Elon Musk is the founder and/or initial investor in the following companies:
- Tesla - Bringing electric cars to the mass market; The first successful automotive start-up in the country since 1925.
- SpaceX - Accomplishing many firsts in the complex aerospace and space transportation field; Has the stated goal of reducing space transportation costs and enabling the colonization of Mars.
- SolarCity - The second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States.
- The Boring Company - Seeking to improve transportation by decreasing tunnel boring cost and increasing tunneling speed.
- Hyperloop - Developing high speed transportation systems.
- OpenAI - A nonprofit research company that aims to promote safe artificial intelligence.
- Neuralink - A neurotechnology startup to create mind-computer interfaces.
- PayPal - One of the first companies to offer online money transfers.
Anyone with that kind of track record is worth studying.
My passion for all things related to Elon Musk and his ventures was ignited by the excellent Wait But Why Blog. Looking for more, I eagerly devoured Ashlee Vance's biography of Musk and as a standalone work, it's intriguing. Aside from new details about Elon's upbringing in South Africa and his early days at X.com/PayPal, however, the information is familiar and places less emphasis on his worldview and long-term goals for Tesla, SpaceX, and other ventures.
So rather than read the book, you should head over to Wait But Why and read their four-part series on Elon Musk:
- Elon Musk: The World’s Raddest Man
- How Tesla Will Change The World
- How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars
- The Cook and the Chef: Musk’s Secret Sauce
And if you aren't scared off by that ~60,000 word series, Wait But Why follows up with two more longform pieces:
My Highlights from the Book
"[Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] points out that one of the really tough things is figuring out what questions to ask. Once you figure out the question, then the answer is relatively easy. I came to the conclusion that really we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. The only thing that makes sense to do is strive for greater collective enlightenment."
"I really like computer games, but then if I made really great computer games, how much effect would that have on the world? It wouldn't have a big effect. Even though I have an intrinsic love of video games, I couldn't bring myself to do that as a career."
"I'm not an investor. I like to make technologies real that I think are important for the future and useful in some sort of way."
"My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail."
"If you ever asked Elon how long it would take to do something, there was never anything in his mind that would take more than an hour. We came to interpret an hour as really taking a day or two and if Elon ever did say something would take a day, we allowed for a week or two weeks."
"I came very close to dying. That's my lesson for taking a vacation: vacations will kill you."
"We're all hanging out in this cabana at the Hard Rock Cafe, and Elon is there reading some obscure Soviet rocket manual that was all moldy..."
"The longer you wait to fire someone the longer it has been since you should have fired them."
"I would tell those people they will get to see their families a lot when we go bankrupt."
"If you hate people and think human extinction is okay, then fuck it. Don't go to space. If you think it is worth humans doing some risk management and finding a second place to go live, then you should be focused on this issue and willing to spend some money."
Most car dealers make the majority of their profits from servicing cars. They treat vehicles like a subscription service, expecting people to visit their service centers multiple times a year for many years. This is the main reason dealerships have fought to block Tesla from selling its cars directly to consumers.
"To the extent that the world still doubts Elon, I think it's a reflection on the insanity of the world and not on the supposed insanity of Elon."
If open-sourcing Tesla's patents means other companies can build electric cars more easily, then that is good for mankind, and the ideas should be free.
Good ideas are always crazy until they're not.