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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  239,337 ratings  ·  9,284 reviews
Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, sold one of his internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion. Ashlee Vance captures the full spectacle and arc of the genius's life and work, from his tumultuous upbringing in South Africa and flight to the United States to his dramatic technical innovations and entrepreneurial pursuits. Vance u ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Ecco (first published March 3rd 2015)
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Julie Hendrix if a young person is curious and motivated to learn about space rockets, electric cars, and some related history, then i think someone as young as 11-…moreif a young person is curious and motivated to learn about space rockets, electric cars, and some related history, then i think someone as young as 11-12 might read all or part(s) of this book. the author goes into great detail, but the entire biographical story is compelling. there is also a lot of info about the early days of the internet, musk's ancestors and immediate family, and historical info on paypal and solar city. musk is a fascinating person, and i believe his story has a wide appeal.(less)
Joel DeGrands There are a fair amount of f-bombs sprinkled throughout, so be warned. The author does explain that Elon loves the word, so it is unavoidable.

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Will Byrnes
Elon Musk is not exactly a name that rolls easily off the tongue, like say Tony Stark, the fictional person to whom he is most often compared, or even Steve Jobs, a real-world visionary, whose mantle Musk now wears. There is no question that Musk is a special individual, someone with BIG dreams and the drive, talent, and money to make them happen. But, like Jobs, and Stark for that matter, he might be an acquired taste on a personal level. In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantast ...more
Mark Bao
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and inspiring. This book brought up one key question: do you have to be a bit reckless to be good? Musk was reckless in two areas: in the risks he took, and the way that he manages his companies.

As for the first, the number of near-death experiences that Tesla, SpaceX and earlier companies went through is almost a running joke throughout this story. The Falcon 1 failed three times, exhausting the company's funds, before achieving a successful fourth flight. Tesla avoided bankruptcy by
...more
Louise
May 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

I like the can-do attitude Vance took with hounding Musk and wearing him down till he agreed to cooperate with this biography. I also appreciated all the "Holy crap, Musk is CRAZY. CRAZY like a fox," moments I had while reading this. The only thing that keeps this from being a 4-star book is that the reporting and writing leans too heavily on idolatry. There were passages where I literally cringed at how much of a fanboy Vance sounded like.
Elizabeth
Jul 17, 2019 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Space, Automobiles, Engineering, Entrepreneurship, California,
I found the tale of Elon Musk's childhood all the way through Zip, Paypal, Solar City, SpaceX and Tesla fascinating and inspiring. One thing in particular stood out. He's not motivated by greed. I've met my share of entrepreneurs and there are countless motivations that power these people. Some are narcissists, some like the idea of being in charge (ego), some are battling the demons of their parents (Musk most likely has a piece of this in his psyche), but the best ones are compulsive problem s ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future is Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, published in 2015.

The book traces Elon Musk's life from his childhood up to the time he spent at Zip2 and PayPal, and then onto SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. In the book, Vance managed to get regular interviews with Musk, those close to him, and those who were with him at the most important points of his life.

تاریخ ن
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TS Chan
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Space. Renewable Energy. Internet.

This is a man after my own heart. Out of all the super entrepreneurs and technological legends of the modern era, Musk ticks all the boxes on my dreams and passions, particularly space. Space has always been the frontier that intrigues me the most; for a single man to dream of colonising Mars and actually doing all he can to make that a reality is just simply astounding.

And then of course, there is Tesla. Aside from the clean energy technology which I am a hug
...more
Tom LA
Jun 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Let me offer this thought: SpaceX is the coolest and most exciting company in the world at this moment in time.

Yes, Tesla is also extremely cool. And inspiring. But nothing can beat that feeling of power, wonder and deep inspiration that SpaceX will give you as soon as you start to understand what that company is actually doing.

As Vance says, "SpaceX IS Elon Musk".

So who is this man? How is it humanly possible to achieve what he has achieved? What else can he achieve in the future? Will he bec
...more
Barbara
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


4.5 stars



Billionaire Elon Musk is a businessman, engineer, and inventor with a radical vision for the future of mankind. In fact Musk wants nothing less than to establish a human colony on Mars.....with a view toward exploring Jupiter's moon Europa someday.


Jupiter and Europa

Musk fears there will be another mass extinction event - like the asteroid that destroyed 75% of Earth's species at the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary 65 million years ago - and he wants people to have somewhere to go.


There
...more
Bradley
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are few people outside of the fiction world that I truly admire, but barring some unseen or future tragedy, I think Musk might well be on the way to becoming my hero.

If I didn't know any better, I might be looking at all his stated claims and seeing all the echoes of Asimov and Heinlein being dragged out of the page and brought to life.

Skip the whole Iron Man image for a second.

Let's talk about Ayn Rand.

Musk is John Galt. As in Atlas Shrugged.

Sure, he's also Dagney, too, or perhaps more l
...more
Umut Rados
Whether you follow him or his companies/works, Elon Musk is an important innovator of our times, and I would suggest everyone to read this book to get inspired or experience another world.
I really admire how Vance captured his biography, which is not an easy thing to do. If you read a little bit, you'll understand Musk is not the most easy going person in the world. The author opens the book in a very intriguing way starting from why Musk allowed him to write his biography, which starts to shed
...more
Trish
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“It’s nuts that people would want to vilify Elon. He might say some things that rub people the wrong way, but at some point, the being nice to everyone thing doesn’t work.“

Elon Musk is fascinating. I could simply tick off some biographical points such as him having been married twice and having five children with his first wife (a set of twins and a set of triplets), but that is not why I read biographies and, in fact, why I dislike most of them. Either the people the biographies are about a
...more
S. Tom Cebic
May 22, 2015 rated it liked it
I wish I could rate this book 2.5 stars. It's a great long read Atlantic or Wired piece about a visionary person with an interesting childhood that is at the forefront of a technology shift and an unsuccessful emotional biography. There are a ton of details about Elon's upbringing, especially about his father and brother, who always felt like a mystery to me. I got a good understanding of how Elon's early mentor, a Canadian banking executive, gave him some insights towards starting X.com, a serv ...more
Amar Pai
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoying this book, but I'm struck by how Musk, like Jobs and Bezos, is a total asshole. A Space-X employee missed a work event to witness his child's birth, and Musk calls him on the carpet for it. He expects his employees to have no life and discards people as soon as they're no longer useful. Just a nightmare boss. Not somebody I'd ever want to work with. Apparently I'm not the only one who had this thought. From NY Times: The Bad Behavior of Visionary Leaders

As I was reading Ashlee Va
...more
Lubinka Dimitrova
This is an incredibly inspiring book, a important look into a game-changing worldview, and a valuable lesson to the world. As Musk says, "If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it."

Strangely enough, I've followed Space X' and Tesla's progress for a very long time, but I never actually read many things about the person behind them. I still cannot believe what a visionary Elon Musk is, and how persistent he's about anything he does. He is a mad scie
...more
Arun Divakar
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Google’s Larry Page says that ’Good ideas are always crazy until they are not’ and this is a statement of truth. If before 2007, someone were audacious enough to tell you that a mobile phone made in the US will turn the industry on its head then you would have called that a crazy notion. If prior to 1998, someone would have said that a website will come along and would grow beyond its role as a search engine into a part of life itself that would have been called crazy too. Every other thing from ...more
Nguyen Linh Chi
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first, the idea of reading 380-page autobiography about a technology-savvy made me downhearted. However, eventually I extremely relish this book that I cannot put it down.

Takeaways:
1. There is nothing wrong about being an introvert and enjoying reading books. You will find a lot of inspirations for your career. Don't give up your childhood dream.

2. Working hard is the only way that lead to success. I vividly remember that he has to take about 170 flights a year. Thanks for his hard work, he c
...more
Andrew Smith
A couple of weeks ago I was glued to my television set as SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket, carrying two astronauts on their journey to the International Space Station. The launch was followed shortly thereafter by the amazing spectacle of seeing the main body of the rocket separate before flipping and completing a descent, culminating in a vertical landing on an autonomous drone ship. This still feels to me like something out of a sci-fi movie – I’m hardly able to believe what I’m seeing! A ...more
Cassie
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’m super interested in Elon Musk and this book provided me insight into the way he thinks, what drives him, how he gets things done, etc.

Some small criticisms--

There were times I noticed information that was being repeated, which made it feel like Vance may have written each chapter separately or without certainty of what order the chapters would be included in the book. Also, while I liked the conversational tone of the writing, it was not what I’m used to from biographies.

A larger criticism—
...more
Mario Tomic
May 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book, if you liked the biography of Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos this book is a must-read! I found it very inspiring and motivational, Elon Musk has the potential to change the world we live in forever. His vision and commitment to make the world a better place through is mind-blowing. Reading this book really helped me push myself past limits and work even harder. It's not hard when your know there's someone like Elon putting everything he's got into his big vision, working 16 hours a day f ...more
Sharon
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Ironically, one of the quotes that made the biggest impression on me in Elon Musk: Inventing the Future didn't come from Musk, but from data scientist Jeffrey Hammerbacher: "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads."

I mean, da-amn. This is so true. (And it stung even more because I'm a marketer.) Where have we gone wrong as a generation? Where is the passion and quest for knowledge? What is the real purpose of innovation? To improve mankind or to become wea
...more
Silvana
A very insightful account on a man who wants to reach the stars (well, Mars) and save humanity from extinction and global warming, yet often falls short from showing a modicum of kindness toward his employees and prone to going ballistic over typos in emails and abbreviations. Oh, did I mention he is downright mysoginistic as well? He basically said all smart women must breed and he's the alpha in his marriage.

The book provides succinct insights on the situation surrounding the industries the m
...more
Marla Munkh-achit
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I usually don’t write reviews for books but this time I had to. Elon Musk is arguably one of the best innovators in the Silicon Valley if not the world. Before reading this book, I just thought of him as a rich start-up dude who makes rocket ships and electric cars. I wasn’t wrong about that but this book helped me see all behind the curtains and the struggles he had to overcome to get where he is. When you look at today’s Tesla, you wouldn’t know they were nearly bankrupt in 2008 if it wasn’t f ...more
Tiffany
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I'm not sure why the reviews are so universally high across the board for this book. I thought it was poorly written and focused on all the wrong things. Each chapter, particularly those towards the end, was repetitive and paced as though it was a stand-alone article, which made the pacing of the book very choppy. The author focused on the failures of each company but completely glossed over what made each product and each company climb the peak to success. I'm assuming the author didn't underst ...more
Nina
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Such an interesting and well-written biography!

instagram || my blog || twitter
...more
Nada Elshabrawy
Really Interesting.
Marco Pavan
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
loved every bit of it, and was not expecting Musk to be any different than how he was described as.
Gorab Jain
4+
For something which isn't that difficult, there's this phrase : "It's not rocket science."
Well.... looks like its going to change. Because with SpaceX, rocket science is not going to be rocket science anymore!

The ratings are for the biography and not for the man himself. Because any number of stars couldn't do justice to the epic proportions Musk has already reached and aspires to. This is the most fantastic character I have ever read about... including fiction! Impossible to believe its non-f
...more
Louise
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, biography
Ashlee Vance covers the multiple aspects of Elon Musk’s life and work. Since Musk’s work consumes the better part of his life, most of the text is on his business projects, each of which is a breakthrough for its time.

His South African childhood was marked by bullies at school, hints of abuse at home and violence over apartheid in his area. His mother has an interesting background; there not much about his father. Although his grim childhood is referred to as influential in his character, the se
...more
Otis Chandler
Amazing to get a glimpse inside the world of one of the more interesting people alive today. Elon has his faults, but in an era where a lot of entrepreneurs are working on problems that can be described more as "making money" and not "making the world better for humanity", Elon is uniquely trying to solve some of humanity's biggest problems, and he doesn't care at all about making money. He is mission driven on solving our dependence on oil (Tesla), removing our dependence on this single planet ...more
Shalini
Inspirational as hell. Undoubtedly, this book is going on my all-time favourites shelf.

“Elon Musk : Inventing the future” is not just a biography of Elon Musk, it’s about everything and everyone important who has build SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity - three of the grand business ventures which would be instrumental in changing the future of humanity.

Honestly, I still have no idea whether it's Musk's genes or his childhood existential depression or something else that has shaped him in the genius he
...more
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Book Review: Vance, Ashlee, ‘Elon Musk’ (2015) 5 107 May 02, 2020 05:15PM  
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Ashlee Vance is an award winning feature writer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. Vance is also the host of the "Hello World" TV show. Previously, he worked for The New York Times and The Register.

Vance was born in South Africa, grew up in Texas and attended Pomona College. He has spent more than a decade covering the technology industry from San Francisco and is a noted Silicon Valley historia
...more

Articles featuring this book

There is nothing like reading a history or biography book and being so completely transported to another time and place that you find...
60 likes · 18 comments
“Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not.” 193 likes
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” 185 likes
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