David Robertson's Reviews > Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
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it was amazing

This is an incredibly well written insight into Elon Musk's life. When you realize that Elon wants to colonize Mars and isn't joking he is far from normal. From his early days he would talk to girls and mention rockets and electric cars. What really struck me was how he is able to endure such pressure and pain. When he was growing up, he was teased and picked on relentlessly and his father would play mind games and although it wasn't in the book you can deduce his father was abusive (at least emotionally). I enjoyed the structure of this book, as it mirrors how much time Elon spends at each of his companies. SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity in that order. It's incredible how Elon will find an industry, make most of the parts in house, and do it for much less cost than any other method. Examples of this are using consumer electronics in the rockets rather than the old out of date "space grade", the 17" screen in the Tesla that controls everything is essentially a laptop screen, and SolarCity recently announced they will be producing their own solar panels from New York. Elon is one of the most important people for our planet and through his non-stop efforts he is able to stay hyper-focused to keep his companies growing and thriving. As Peter Thiel put it "I would never bet against Elon".

Things I learned:

Even a billionaire has to fund raise. Tesla was days away from not being able to meet payroll when a last minute venture investment kept them afloat. Also, the typical budget for incumbent car company is 1 billion for research and development and Tesla did the Modes S for 135 million. If you haven't driven a Model S definitely do as it is light years better than every other car produced.
Getting the public excited again about space is critical for our species survival. The only way to do this is through exciting private companies and less government involvement.
Elon is a mixture of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. He has the coding chops of Gates (almost) but insists on design perfection and can be quite demanding to work for like Steve Jobs. I think Elon has a grander vision than either of them and the next twenty years will show us proof.
Hyperloop started as a joke and now is going to be a real company. I look forward to the next science fiction ideas Elon has floating around in his head and hope they will build them. I liked the idea of Tesla building an amphibious car, and can't wait to see the innovations from SpaceX.
Elon loves to read and would read for hours as a kid. Often he would be missing from the grocery store and sneak into the book store to read. When the book store ran out of books, Elon devoured the encyclopedia and with his photographic memory was quite annoying to the other children with his I told you so personality.
I thank Ashee Vance for working so hard on this biography as I learned a ton from it. I will be trying to score a tour of SpaceX in Hawthorne, CA and look forward to watching some of the rockets launch in Vandenberg.

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Reading Progress

January 2, 2016 – Started Reading
January 12, 2016 – Shelved
January 12, 2016 – Finished Reading

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