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#1 Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, & the Quest for a Fantastic Future
September 19th, 2016 | E1

What I learned from reading Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance


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The conventional wisdom of the time said to take a deep breath and wait for the next big thing to arrive in due course. Musk rejected that logic by throwing $100 million into SpaceX, $70 million into Tesla, and $10 million into SolarCity. Short of building an actual money crushing machine, Musk could not have picked a faster way to destroy his fortune. He became a one-man-ultra-risk taking venture capital shop and doubled down on making super-complex physical goods in two of the most expensive places in the world, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. [2:13]

What Musk has developed that so many of the entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley lack is a meaningful worldview. He’s the possessed genius on the grandest quest anyone has ever concocted. He’s less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. [9:17]

The life that Musk has created to manage all of these endeavors is preposterous. [9:53]

He felt as if the public had lost some of its ambition and hope for the future. [14:34]

His fears that mankind had lost much of its will to push the boundaries were reinforced one day when Musk went to the NASA website. He expected to find a detailed plan for exploring Mars and instead found bupkis. [14:58]

The men were heading to Russia at the height of its freewheeling post-Soviet days when rich guys could apparently buy space missiles on the open market. [24:32]

Musk wheeled around and flashed a spreadsheet he’d created. “Hey guys, I think we can build this rocket ourselves.” [27:53]

Some of these people had spent years on the island going through one of the most surreal engineering exercises in human history. They had been separated from their families, assaulted by the heat, and exiled on their tiny launchpad outpost— sometimes without much food — for days on end as they waited for the launch windows to open and dealt with the aborts that followed. So much of that pain and suffering and fear would be forgotten if this launch went successfully. [32:17]

It took six years-about four and half more than Musk had once planned — and five hundred people to make this miracle of modern science and business happen. [34:38]

Well that was freaking awesome. There are a lot of people who thought we couldn’t do it. There are only a handful of countries on Earth that have done this. It’s normally a country thing, not a company thing. My mind is kind of frazzled, so it’s hard for me to say anything, but this is definitely one of the greatest days in my life. [35:19]

To avoid bankruptcy Musk made a last-ditch effort to raise all the personal funds he could and put them into the company. “It was like the fucking Matrix,” Musk said, describing his financial maneuvers. [42:53]

The 2008 period told him everything he would ever need to know about Musk’s character. He saw a man who arrived in the United States with nothing, who had lost a child, who was on the verge of having his life’s work destroyed. “He has the ability to work harder and endure more stress than anyone I’ve ever met. What he went through in 2008 would have broken anyone else. He didn’t just survive. He kept working and stayed focused.” [48:37]

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