Elon Musk – Tesla, PayPal, SpaceX: the entrepreneur who will change the world

Summary of “Elon Musk – Tesla, Paypal, SpaceX: the entrepreneur who will change the world”: this biography leads us into the extraordinary life of Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur who has a personality that fascinates many and who has transformed the payments, energy, aerospace and automotive sectors and who dreams that Man will colonize the planet Mars.

By Ashlee Vance, 2017, 371 pages,

Original title: “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

Chronicle and summary of “Elon Musk – Tesla, Paypal, SpaceX: the entrepreneur who will change the world”:

Chapter 1 – The world of Elon Musk

1.1 – The author’s first contact with Elon Musk

When Ashlee Vance, the author, told Elon Musk about his proposal, Musk’s first reaction was to turn it down flat.

It wasn’t until Elon Musk finally accepted that Ashlee Vance was determined, at all costs, to complete his project and that he agreed to work with him. He allowed him into his private and professional life, even though Vance rejected his conditions (ie. read the book before its publication and be allowed to add annotations to it).

1.2 – Elon Musk’s three huge companies

SpaceX: aerospace

Basically, SpaceX is a low-cost supplier within the aerospace industry. With SpaceX, Elon Musk’s long-term objective is to colonize Mars and enable a million people to relocate there.

With this enterprise, Elon Musk faces the world’s military, industrial and aerospace giants (including its American competitors “Lockheed Martin” and “Boeing”, and French “Arianespace”) and key countries like Russia and China.

The growth, objectives, and challenges of SpaceX are described in detail below.

Tesla Motors: automotive

With Tesla Motors, Elon Musk attempts to rethink the way cars are built and sold and to create a global energy distribution network.

Tesla manufactures all-electric cars with a meticulous design. They are like “computers on wheels” that challenge the limits of technology. The company doesn’t sell via dealerships but rather on the Internet and in Apple-style galleries. In a variety of ways, which will be detailed later, these vehicles will start a new era in the automotive market.

Elon Musk’s goal, with Tesla, is to make the electric car more popular.

SolarCity: energy production

SolarCity is the largest solar panel installer in the United States. Through this business, Elon Musk became an electricity supplier himself, bypassing dozens of electricity companies.

Elon Musk’s long term goal, with SolarCity, is to replace most of today’s energy use with renewable energy.

Elon Musk has built two green companies that flourish at levels that are rarely achieved:

His empire, with factories, tens of thousands of employees, incredible technical innovations and industrial power, is a strong challenge to the established players.

His entrepreneurial successes have made him one of the wealthiest men in the world, with a net worth of about $10 billion.

1.3 – The author’s first visit to the headquarters of SpaceX: a “bewildering” experience

Ashlee Vance’s investigative work started at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The main building is rectangular, covers 50,000 square meters and is painted in a shade of white. Essentially it’s a full-fledged factory where several rockets are simultaneously built from start to finish.


What first struck Vance when he first went there in 2012, were the two giant images of Mars that hung on the wall outside the entrance to Elon Musk’s cramped office:

The one on the left shows the planet as it is today – a red, cold and barren sphere. The one on the right shows Mars covered in vegetation and surrounded by oceans. The planet has been warmed and transformed to make it habitable for humans. That is Musk’s intention. The transformation of humans into the colonizers of outer space is his life’s ambition.

Elon Musk told the author, whilst he ate cream-cookie ice cream, that the day that happens:

“I would like to die thinking that humanity has a bright future ahead of it… If we could discover sustainable energy and start transforming ourselves into a multi-planet species with an independent civilization on another planet – to escape the worst-case scenario and the extinction of human consciousness – then… […] I think it would be really nice.”

1.4 – Save Mankind: Elon Musk’s Quest

Elon Musk’s speech on the colonization of Mars may seem insane. Yet:

It’s what drives his companies. It’s the primary objective that unifies everything they do.

Besides, Elon Musk’s employees are in tune with this and that’s precisely why they strive, day in and day out, to achieve the impossible.

Ultimately, what Elon Musk has created is what many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley do not possess: a meaningful vision of the world.

He is the inspired genius of the most ambitious quest ever envisaged. He isn’t a CEO who wants to make a fortune, but a general who leads his troops to victory. Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you to share pictures of babies, Musk wants to… well, save humanity from accidental or self-inflicted extinction.

1.5 – Elon Musk’s crazy life

His professional network

To be able to manage all these companies and his hectic life, the entrepreneur had to set up a “crazy” work schedule: on Monday at SpaceX, on Tuesday at SpaceX in Silicon Valley, then two days at Tesla (with offices in Palo Alto and a factory in Fremont); finally, on Thursday, return to Los Angeles and SpaceX.

Elon Musk’s current home is located in Los Angeles, in the chic area of Bel-Air. When he goes to Northern California, he either spends the night at the luxury Rosewood hotel or with friends (where he occasionally sleeps on a couch after he has collapsed whilst on a computer game).

He routinely calculates how much time is spent in the air each week because of his schedule. When asked how he manages to survive such a schedule, he replies:

“I had a hard childhood, maybe that helps.”

His personal set-up

Four days a week, Elon Musk shares custody of his five sons (twins and triplets) with his ex-wife Justine, who he lived with for many years, before his second marriage to the British actress Talulah Riley.

With this itinerary, Elon Musk rarely finds time to relax, but when he does, his parties are just as spectacular as the rest of his life.

Chapter 2 – South Africa

2.1 – Elon Musk’s ancestors

His maternal grandparents: Joshua and Wyn Haldeman

According to his family tree, Elon Musk’s maternal ancestors, named after Haldeman’s Swiss-German family name, left Europe for New York at the time of the War of Independence. When they migrated to the United States, the Haldemans were most probably peasants with fighters on both sides during the Civil War.

Joshua Haldeman, Elon Musk’s maternal grandfather, is described as an eccentric and exceptional man. He was a model for Elon.

Born in Canada and fatherless at the age of seven, Joshua broke in horses, was a student, farmer, construction worker, and rodeo artist, and later became a chiropractor. He married Wyn, a Canadian dance instructor, who also practiced chiropody.

Joshua Haldeman learned to fly. He bought his own plane. He regularly flew to his political and professional appointments! And he wrote a book called “The Flying Haldemans: Pity the Poor Private Pilot”.

In 1950, in a matter of months, the family sold their house, dance school and chiropractic surgery and moved to South Africa. They moved to Pretoria where Joshua Haldeman opened a new chiropractic surgery.

An adventurer and eager to explore, Joshua was always ready to take on crazy new challenges. In 1952, he and his wife, Wyn, flew 35,000 kilometers to Scotland and Norway. After that, they made another 48,000 km return trip to Australia.

Elon Musk believes he inherited his grandfather’s remarkable willingness to take risks.

His paternal grandparents: Walter and Cora Musk

Elon Musk’s paternal grandfather, Walter Henry James Musk, has strong South African roots. He was a sergeant in the army.

Cora Amelia Musk, Errol’s mother, was born in England into a very intellectual family. Elon regards his relationship with Cora as particularly close. After his parents divorced, she spent a lot of time to support and care for him.

His parents: Maye and Errol Musk

Maye Musk fell pregnant with Elon on her honeymoon and gave birth to Elon on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria (a large city in north-eastern South Africa, an hour’s drive from Johannesburg), nine months and two days after her marriage.

Then Maye, formerly a model, opened a dietician’s practice. Errol, Elon’s father, works as a mechanical and electrical engineer. He built up a successful business. Just over a year after Elon’s birth, they had another boy, Kimbal, and after that, a girl, Tosca.

The Musk family enjoyed a good life until Maye and Eroll’s divorce.

Elon was about 8 years old by then. He remained with his mother in Durban, but after two or three years, he decided to move in with his father (who re-married, which resulted in two half-sisters for Elon).

Elon traveled widely with his father in South Africa and around the world. On the surface, life with Errol was great. Although he remembers some good times, Elon Musk, reveals a psychologically difficult childhood and some very turbulent years with his father. When he talked about his father, he said:

I didn’t have a good childhood. It may seem good. There were some good times, but it wasn’t a happy childhood. It was like torture. He was determined to ruin your life, that’s for sure. He can make any situation unpleasant, however good it may appear to be.

2.2 – Elon Musk’s childhood and adolescence

Elon, a little genius with a passion to read

Elon’s most noticeable character trait in his childhood was his eagerness to read books. He often read up to ten hours a day, and even completed two different sets of encyclopedia.

When we needed an answer to a question, Tosca always said, “Let’s ask the little genius,” says Maye. “You could ask him anything. He remembered everything.” But he always had a constant desire to correct people and along with his abrupt manner, it drove Elon’s siblings away, which accentuated his loneliness.

First steps in IT

Elon was about ten years old when he first came across a computer. When his father agreed to buy it for him, he was so passionate about computers that he began to code on it. Normally it would take 6 months to learn everything, Elon Musk says, “I switched to super OCD mode and did everything in three days with no sleep. I don’t think anything’s ever hooked me more”.

In 1984, a South African newspaper published the code for a video game produced by Elon Musk. He was only 12 years old. The objective of the game was to destroy an alien spaceship. This game was an early demonstration of Elon’s visions to achieve major breakthroughs. It clearly exceeded the abilities of most children of his age.


Along with his brother Kimbal and his cousins Russ, Lyndon and Peter Rive, he developed a passion for video and role-play games. It was in this period that Elon conducted his first experiments that involved homemade rockets and explosives, for which he created his own chemical blends.

Elon Musk’s education

Elon’s school life has far less excitement to offer than his life outside with his brother and cousins. He was expelled from two or three schools. One day, a child assaulted him quite severely, which marked the start of three or four years of constant harassment.

Elon recounts his troubled childhood:

At school, I was continually hunted down by a gang that wanted to beat me up, and when I came home it was no better. It was horrible all the time.

After this, Elon finished his school years at the Pretoria Boys’ High School. His classmates remember him as a friendly, quiet and unremarkable student. One of them recalls that even then he had big ambitions about the colonization of other planets and that he questioned if the bank system really needed ATMs.

As far as his grades were concerned, Elon was not amongst the elite of his class. The homework that the school set him was of no interest. From that point onwards, with his passion for technology, science fiction and fantasy, his preference was to play video games, write computer programs and read books. Nevertheless, he did very well academically, particularly in maths and computer programming.

Elon’s American dream

At 17, Elon Musk finally got a Canadian passport thanks to his Canadian mother. He then left South Africa for Canada. Musk viewed Canada as the gateway to the United States, which was his dream destination.

He knew, at that time, that America, and especially Silicon Valley, was one of the world’ s best places for technology and innovation.

Chapter 3 – Canada

3.1 – Odd jobs and trips across Canada

When he arrived in Canada (after a short stay in Montreal and a year with his cousin in Saskatchewan, where his grandfather Joshua was born), Elon Musk traveled across the country and took various odd jobs to cover his costs. His brother Kimball joined him.

3.2 – University

His first encounter with Justine Wilson, his future wife

In 1989, Elon Musk enrolled at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he met Justine Wilson, a fellow student, with whom he fell in love.

He launched his first move outside his university residence, where he claimed to have bumped into her by accident and then recalled that they had already met at a party. Musk did have a romantic side too.

Elon Musk’s research: a process of intellectual development

Study suited Elon well. He met people who respected his intellectual talents. For a while, he sold computer components and microcomputers to his classmates.

In 1992, after two years at Queen’s, Elon Musk left for the University of Pennsylvania. Elon flourished even more and began to feel very comfortable with other physics students. However, he was a bit of a geek and made few friends in college. One of those was Adeo Ressi. He was the more creative and colorful counterpart of a more studious and uptight Musk.

The two friends moved into a ten-room villa which they got for a good price, then on to another with fourteen rooms where they hosted many parties in spite of Elon’s unsociable personality.

3.3 – Elon Musk’s departure to the United States and Silicon Valley

Whilst in University, Elon Musk was able to complete several internships in Silicon Valley. Whilst there, he discovered all the opportunities he hoped for and an environment that met with his expectations.

His dream was to be a true American!

That’s why, as soon as he graduated, Elon Musk set off, with his brother Kimbal, on a road trip across the United States. The young man thought about what his future work life could offer him. For a short time, he considered the video game industry but soon rejected it when he realized that it wouldn’t allow him to change the world.

Even then, Musk already had huge ambitions in mind:

His thoughts always ended in the same place: the Internet, renewable energy and space would be transformed over the years ahead and he would have a significant role to play in all three areas.

Chapter 4 – Elon Musk’s first start-up company

4.1 – The creation of Zip2

In 1995, Elon and his brother Kimbal created Global Link Information Network, a start-up that they later renamed Zip2. They set up the company’s offices in Palo Alto, in a room that measured six by nine meters.

Zip2 was a business directory linked to maps. Elon did the code work, while Kimbal looked after the door-to-door sales.

Slowly, the start-up grew. The business moved into a three-room apartment. At the end of 1995, the Musk brothers recruited a sales team to work with them.

4.2 – The rise of Zip2

At the start of 1996, Zip2 undergoes a massive change.

That year, Greg Kouri, a Canadian businessman, joined Zip2 as a co-founder. He had a really good knowledge of the business. He became an essential member of the management at Zip2 and took on a lot of the responsibilities to help Elon Musk. In a way, he became his mentor.

Then, the same year, Elon Musk managed to secure a $3 million investment from venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures. With this, the company employed a number of highly talented engineers. It is also altered its strategy. Zip2 expanded to cover not just the San Francisco area but the whole of the United States. Rather than sell its service door-to-door, the new goal was to create a software package to be sold to newspapers, which would then allow them to create their own directories of real estate agents, car dealers and classified ads.

Zip2 was a major success. The New York Times, Knight Ridder, Hearst Corporation and other newspapers subscribed. They even offered another $50 million in funds to Zip2.

4.3 – The sale of Zip2

But the company’s status deteriorated. After an unsuccessful merger idea with CitySearch, Zip2 was not in great shape and had to contend with the competition.

In February 1999, computer manufacturer Compaq Computer offered to buy Zip2 for $307 million in cash. Thanks to this sale, Elon and Kimbal pocketed $22 million and $15 million respectively.

Chapter 5 – The boss of the PayPal mafia


5.1 – The life of a multi-millionaire

Within a decade, Elon Musk had gone from a Canadian vagrant to a multi-millionaire.

With his $22 million, he moved out of his shared apartment. He bought and renovated a 170-square-meter apartment. He also bought a $1 million McLaren F1 coupe and a small propeller plane that he learned to fly. Aged 27, he becomes what everyone wants to be at the time: a dot-com millionaire, and adapts to his new-found status.

5.2 – Elon Musk’s new vision: an Internet bank

The sale of Zip2 gave Elon Musk new confidence. His ambitions quickly grew: Elon Musk now wanted to create an Internet bank.

More precisely, Elon Musk wanted to:

Develop a full-service financial institution online, with cheque and savings accounts as well as investment services and insurance.

But, to do this, Elon Musk had to build from the ground up.

From there, he approached some of the best engineers to see if they would join him on a new venture. He tried his ideas out with some of the contacts he had kept at the Canadian bank. Then he launched.

5.3 – The birth of X.com

Where Zip2 had been a straight forward and useful idea, X.com was likely to spark a massive revolution. For the first time, Musk decided to confront a wealthy and heavyweight industry head-on with his goal to overthrow the incumbents.

To successfully launch X.com, Musk needed to bring together a team of skilled engineers. But five months after the company’s launch, Elon Musk quarreled with Harris Fricker, one of the co-founders, who left. Many of the engineers followed Fricker, to start their own company. With Musk in control, X.com attempted to keep going.

The company offered some radical new banking concepts, such as the elimination of overdraft charges and fees.

In addition, X.com established an innovative and advanced payment system: one that allowed you person to person payments simply with the recipient’s e-mail address.

The system aimed to:

  • Move away from those banks that take days to process settlements;
  • Create a bank account that’s quick and easy to use so that money could be deposited and withdrawn with two mouse clicks or by e-mail.

Back then, the concept revolutionized the banking industry! Within the first two months more than 200,000 people registered with X.com.

5.4 – The merger of X.com and its competitor Confinity (PayPal)

X.com soon had a strong competitor: two young and imaginative people, Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, came up with their own payment system through a start-up called Confinity. After a bitter struggle, X.com and Confinity agreed to not compete against each other and instead joined forces in March 2000.

Elon Musk became the main shareholder of the new company, which would be called X.com. The two companies did their utmost to amalgamate their respective philosophies, but they weren’t able to reach an agreement to keep everyone happy. Two months after the merger, Thiel resigned and Levchin threatened to leave because of technological differences between him and Musk.

Musk found himself in charge of a company in turmoil.

5.5 – The creation of PayPal after the expulsion of Elon Musk

This led to “one of the most vicious coups in the history of Silicon Valley”.

Whilst on honeymoon with Justine (the couple had married a few months earlier, in January 2000), and as a result of a vicious scheme to convince the board of directors to do so, Elon Musk was dismissed from his position as CEO, and replaced by Thiel.

Thiel renamed the company PayPal. For a short while, Elon Musk tried to counter-attack, but soon he became an advisor to the company and continued to invest in it even though he was already its largest shareholder.

Chapter 6 – The conquest of outer space

6.1 – Los Angeles, malaria and Elon Musk’s galactic dreams

After his departure from PayPal, Elon Musk bought a new house and spent more time with his wife Justine. They decided to start a family and moved to Los Angeles. They also traveled to Africa where Elon contracted the most virulent strain of malaria which almost killed him. It took him six months to recover.

It was then that Elon also pushed his dreams of spacecraft and galactic voyages that he had fostered as a child, to come true. When they relocated to Los Angeles, a major industrial and commercial center for military aeronautics, Musk deliberately chose a city that would provide them with a gateway to the space industry…

6.2 – Creation of the “Life to Mars Foundation

Elon Musk had already developed a fairly extensive network of contacts in the space industry.

In 2001, he decided to create a foundation called the “Life to Mars Foundation“. The foundation’s meetings brought together top industry experts who were thrilled to have a huge offer of money to fund worthwhile projects in the world of space technology.

One of the things discussed was a project called “Mars Oasis”. The plan was that Elon Musk would buy a rocket and send a sort of robotic greenhouse to Mars.

The trip to Moscow and the breakthrough

To implement his project, Elon Musk planned to buy a refurbished intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from the Russians. Everyone thought that he had gone crazy.

Elon Musk flew to Russia where he met with three Russian companies but they couldn’t agree on a price. On the plane, on his way back from Moscow, Elon Musk was busy on his computer. After a while, he called his team: “Hey, guys, I think we can build this rocket ourselves.”

Construction of the rockets

Musk had done his research on the aerospace industry and space physics for several months when he put forward the idea to build a rocket himself. By his calculations, it would be possible to make it cheaper by themselves rather than use launch companies that already existed.

This proposal created a lot of uncertainty in the space community. But with Jim Cantrell’s (who had carried out a number of secret or official missions for the American and other governments, and who had been part of this venture from the very start) advice, Elon Musk was introduced to a man called Mueller. Musk quickly grasped that he knew everything about how to build a rocket, and introduced him to his panel of space experts and invited him to the meetings.

6.3 – The birth of SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies)


Space Exploration Technologies (or SpaceX) born June 2002.

The offices were scattered across the factory. Computer scientists and engineers from the best universities worked alongside welders and mechanics who build the equipment. This was SpaceX’s first significant departure from traditional aerospace companies.

The SpaceX executives hired by Elon Musk were an elite team. The first days also saw the arrival of Mary Beth Brown, who was a legendary character both at SpaceX and Tesla. Mary Beth Brown, aka MB, was appointed as Musk’s loyal assistant. She played a key role in the birth of the original SpaceX culture.

6.4 – The sale of PayPal to eBay: a godsend for SpaceX

With Elon Musk anxious to embark on this new venture, eBay offered, in July 2002, to buy PayPal for $1.5 billion.

Through this deal, Elon Musk pocketed approximately $250 million ($180 million after tax). He then spent more than $100 million on SpaceX. This huge investment guaranteed him control of SpaceX.

6.5 – His son’s death, then the birth of five children

Suddenly, this all paled into insignificance…

Ten weeks before the takeover of PayPal, Justine gave birth to the couple’s first son: Nevada Alexander Musk. But the baby died from cot death at just two months old.

The couple didn’t handle the death in the same way. Justine needed to articulate her grief. Elon, on the other hand, declined to discuss the tragedy.

Two months later, Elon and Justine discussed the possibility of a new pregnancy. Over the next five years, they had twins and then triplets.

6.6 – The start of SpaceX

Tough commitments to fulfill

Even with some situations that proved to be difficult but productive, the sense that you were part of a small family that was united against the world, was established at SpaceX.

The company was on the rise. SpaceX:

  • Acquired an empty warehouse, at the end of 2002, which one year later was transformed into a full-scale rocket factory.
  • Announced that its first rocket would be launched in early 2004 from U.S. Air Force Base Vandenberg and would transport a satellite for the Ministry of Defence.
  • Unveiled a Falcon 1 prototype in December 2003.
  • Plans a second model: the Falcon 5.

To achieve these objectives, employees were expected to work 12 hours a day, six days a week or more. However, Elon Musk, who demanded a lot of himself, expected the same from his staff: to always do more and improve. Although most of the employees were excited to be part of the adventure, it was a big challenge for them to cope with Elon Musk’s strenuous demands and tough work ethic.

Despite this, Elon Musk didn’t achieve his objectives, mainly due to quality control checks that took longer than expected.

The transformation of Kwaj, a small Pacific island, into a rocket launch site

At the Vandenberg launch site,  SpaceX was given a frosty welcome by the army. Lockheed and Boeing, who launched $1 billion military spy satellites at Vandenberg, did not like the turmoil caused by this start-up near their valuable assets.

In fact, Elon Musk soon worked out that he could never launch them from here. He then made the decision to search for his own rocket launch base!

He found the right venue in Kwaj, the largest island on an atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, in the Pacific Ocean between Guam and Hawaii.

Over a seven-month period, a small team transformed the Omelek field, the three-hectare island covered with palm trees and vegetation, into a launchpad. They put in a concrete slab and converted barracks into offices.

The entire scenario was ridiculous. A rookie rocket builder attempted to perform one of life’s most difficult tasks with a team stuck in the middle of nowhere, few of whom had ever even launched a rocket. It was the ultimate exercise in how to learn and bring a team together, full of hilarious comedy moments. “It was like being on Shipwreck Island, with rockets” jokes Hollman.

Three launch attempts: three failures


  • First launch in 2006

In November 2005, six months after they arrived on the island, the SpaceX team was ready for the first launch. But a problem was detected just before the launch and forced a postponement. After numerous problems, another attempt was made on 24 March 2006. Falcon 1 launched into the sky, but after 25 seconds, the rocket showed some signs of malfunction and started to spin and fell back to earth, out of control.

  • Second launch in 2007

On March 15, 2007, SpaceX was ready for a third attempt. This one appeared to be on the right track. However, Falcon 1 exploded in flight. This failure was another very serious blow for all of the SpaceX engineers.

  • Third launch in 2008

While the Falcon 9 launch, a few days earlier in Texas, was a success, it was time for Falcon 1, on August 2, 2008, to make its third launch attempt. Falcon 1 rose into the sky and there didn’t appear to be any problems. But just as the two sections separated, a malfunction occurred and made the third launch yet another failure.

The incident was very hard on the exhausted and psychologically broken SpaceX employees. Elon Musk immediately appealed to his people and motivated them to resume their work.

Chapter 7 – All-electric

7.1 – Elon Musk’s initial steps in the automobile industry

Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning and Ian Wright, three California businessmen, passionate about lithium-ion battery cars, founded a company on July 1, 2003, by the name of Tesla Motors.

Tesla was short of $7 million to continue with its electric car development projects. When contacted by Tesla, Elon Musk agreed to finance the project. Elon Musk wanted to shift the country’s use of energy consumption to reduce the United States’ dependence on oil. With an investment this size, Musk became one of Tesla’s largest shareholders and was installed as the company’s CEO.

7.2 – The early days of Tesla Motors

The creation of the team and the first vehicle to give hope

To create its electric car, Tesla employed young engineers at the cutting edge of technology. The company also hired Straubel, who had met with Musk a few months earlier to discuss an electric vehicle project that Musk had agreed to partially finance. They bonded immediately.

One of Tesla’s main technical innovation concerns was the design of the battery. No one had yet tried to assemble hundreds of lithium-ion batteries at the same time.

Four months later, on 27 January 2005, the team of eighteen people had built an entirely new type of car that was roadworthy. Elon Musk drove it. He was satisfied enough to put in another $9 million to continue the project.

The first successes for Tesla Motors

After the construction of two prototypes, the company built its Roadster EP1. The vehicle impressed venture capitalists who, with Musk, invested a total of $40 million in the company.

In July 2006, Tesla announced its achievements to the world. From that, it achieved its best pre-orders sales since its creation.

By mid-2007, Tesla had 260 employees. The company built the fastest and most beautiful electric car ever seen. Now they had to manufacture it in high volumes…

Cumulative problems

The Tesla plan was to deliver the Roadster in November 2007, but problems were on the increase, notably production times and costs of the Roadster, mainly because the supply chain was spread out across the globe.

Once Elon Musk was aware, belatedly, of these problems, he contacted Valor Equity, a company turnaround specialist in the area of production management. Valor Equity informed Elon Musk that each Roadster would cost up to $200,000, which Tesla had planned to sell for around $85,000. On top of that, a third of the cars didn’t work.

In Musk’s view, Eberhard, Tesla’s CEO, was responsible for serious mismanagement and the loss of control on parts costs as well as not informing the board of the seriousness of the current crisis. Musk replaced him as CEO. The conflict between Musk and Eberhard continues to this day.

Tesla on the edge of bankruptcy

With Eberhard gone, Tesla’s board of directors appointed an interim boss, Michael Marks. But bit by bit, Marks’ vision (who wanted to turn Tesla around and sell it to a larger carmaker) was not aligned with Musk’s. He, in turn, was replaced by Ze’ev Drori.

In addition to these CEO changes, Tesla faced many other challenges: late deliveries were harder to explain to customers. Workers, exhausted by five years of technological challenges, left the company, etc.

Added to all of this, at the start of 2008, the company was desperately short of money. It cost about $140 million to develop the Roadster, significantly more than the $25 million originally planned. Given the current economic situation, it was impossible to raise more capital.

The only way to solve the problem at Tesla was for Musk to invest all of his money, even if it would cause him to have a mental breakdown.

Chapter 8 – Pain, distress and survival

8.1 – Elon Musk, Iron Man and the press

From this point, Musk became a public figure. It’s claimed that he inspired the role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Elon and Justine Musk became part of the social scene in Hollywood.

While he appeared to be fine in public, the press and on social networks, Musk was extremely anxious about both his companies.

In early 2008, Musk’s life became very turbulent. Tesla and SpaceX ate up his money. He had to sell valuable assets like his McLaren to raise cash. His assets were quickly squandered without much to show in return. In the press, his star faded.

8.2 – Elon and Justine Musk’s divorce

Elon’s private life was also in decline. After the twins were born, Justine suffered from prenatal depression.

Musk had no choice: he had to devote himself entirely to Tesla and SpaceX. He worked seven days a week, split between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which meant that he didn’t spend much time at home. This exacerbated the pressure and tension in his relationship. There was a team of nannies who helped to look after the 5 children, but Justine was tired.

On June 16, 2008, Musk filed for divorce.

The divorce gave Justine the chance to describe her private life more openly in her blog: for the first time, a portrait of Elon Musk as a troubled genius and a disagreeable husband was showcased on social media.

For Musk, every time Justine wrote a blog, it unleashed a new public relations crisis that compounded the relentless stream of problems within his companies. The portrait he had chiseled out over the years seemed to be about to crumble along with his companies. It was a disaster zone.

Their divorce pushed the Musks into the limelight. Musk was overcome with severe distress.

8.3 –Elon Musk and Talulah Riley’s first meeting


A few weeks after his divorce, whilst on holiday with a friend, Elon Musk met the actress Talulah Riley in an English club. He fell in love with her.

A week after, the couple met again in California. It was then that Elon proposed to Talulah. She agreed to marry him, a man fourteen years her senior, in the middle of a divorce, with five children, nearly bankrupt, utterly exhausted but prepared to fight.

Regarding this proposal, Talulah says:

“I remember him saying to me, ‘Choosing to live with me is to opt for the difficult path’. I didn’t really understand it at the time, but now I know. It was very hard, a crazy way of life”.

Years later, Elon and Talulah would divorce to remarry and divorce a second time.

8.4 – Highs and lows

Fourth launch of the Falcon 1: a successful outcome

When, two months earlier, the third launch of the Falcon 1 failed, Elon Musk put on a good public face. But in reality, it was a disaster for the entrepreneur, who had already put $100 million into the company and had none left because of Tesla’s problems.

This meant that the fourth launch was his last chance. If successful, it would give the American authorities confidence in SpaceX, as well as to corporate customers, which could enable them to have access to funds to plan for the Falcon 9 project and for other more ambitious ventures.

The fourth launch of SpaceX was on September 28, 2008. To meet the deadline, the staff worked intensively for six weeks in continuous shifts. On D-Day, the sheer intensity of the moment was visible on the workers’ faces.

And at last, the launch was successful!

Falcon 1 became the very first privately built machine to achieve this milestone. It took six years (about four and a half more than Musk had originally thought) and five hundred people to achieve this marvel of science and technology.

“When we saw the successful launch, everyone burst into tears,” said Kimbal. “It’s one of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve ever had.”

In his speech to his team, Elon Musk addressed all his staff:

Normally, it’s a matter for a country, not a company… […] It’s undoubtedly one of the best days of my life, and I think it’s also for most people here. We have shown that we are capable of doing it. It’s just the first step, there will be many more…

Disastrous cash flow

Soon after the successful launch, Musk inspected his finances.

Tesla spent about $4 million a month. The company was in need of a major financial injection to get it through 2008. He had no choice. He borrowed hundreds of thousands of dollars from his friend Skoll. Talulah’s parents offered to re-mortgage their house. Somehow, Musk managed to raise $20 million and convinced Tesla’s investors to contribute an equal amount.

Those who were shareholders at that point would say “Gracias” to Musk for what he achieved:

He was able to work harder and endure more stress than anyone I know of […] Anyone else would have been broken by the hardships he experienced in 2008. He continued to work unabated and not lose focus.

Chapter 9 – Take-off

9.1 – SpaceX: a new player to transform the aerospace industry

Falcon 9

SpaceX’s rocket, the Falcon 9, was 68.4 meters high, 3.66 meters wide and weighed 500 tonnes. When this was written, the company had already completed two dozen rocket launches. The order books were full for years and they had plans to launch over fifty flights.

SpaceX launched approximately one rocket per month. Rockets carried satellites for companies and states as well as supplies for the international space station.

Elon Musk was the main shareholder of SpaceX together with external investors. The value of SpaceX was estimated at $12 billion.

Cheap prices and SpaceX’s independence

Compared to its American competitors (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences), the prices offered by SpaceX were unbelievable. Unlike its rivals, the company constantly changed and modified the rules of the aerospace manufacturing market. For example, it built all of its machines from scratch in the United States (without the need for foreign suppliers).

We have control over everything. We have our own test site, whereas most others use government sites. Production time is halved, as is work with materials. Four years ago, we could build two rockets a year and today we can build twenty rockets a year.

Thanks to this, the United States re-emerged as a player in the global launcher market. The cost of $60 million per launch of SpaceX was significantly lower than that of the Europeans, Americans, and even the Russians and the Chinese, who for decades had piled money into their space programs and had a cheap workforce.

Re-usable rockets

SpaceX’s competitive edge was primarily based on the re-use of rockets. Rather than allow its rockets to crash into the sea and disintegrate, SpaceX’s plan was to use thrust reversers to soften their descent so that they could use them again.

In the words of Elon Musk:

As long as we continue to throw away rockets and spacecraft after use, we will never really have access to space.

As a result, in the future years, SpaceX expects to be able to further reduce the cost of launches. Elon Musk’s objective is the ability to send the huge amount of supplies required for a settlement that’s based on Mars.

9.2 – In-house management and an innovative production process

The laborious and lengthy process of recruitment

Elon Musk is referred to as a general rather than a CEO. With SpaceX, he built an army of engineers and brought in almost all the professionals he wanted.

Elon Musk recruited, above all, people with passion, who were able to work well in a team and who had hands-on experience in metalwork. They were often people who had built things since they were kids.

Candidates who successfully completed the recruitment process had to write an essay for Elon Musk on why they wanted to work at SpaceX. Those who managed to come up with a persuasive story got to meet with him. The entrepreneur had personally met with the majority of SpaceX employees (in the early days when the company started), which included security guards and technicians. When the company’s staff grew too large, he continued to meet with engineers.

Elon Musk, a leader who expected dedication

The stories from the engineers who met Elon Musk vary from “torture to the sublime”.

The people who were interviewed in order to write this book were critical of the hours Musk worked, his bluntness and the crazy demands that he put on his teams, which were unbelievable at times. But nearly everyone, even those who had been dismissed, paid tribute to him and described him “in terms normally reserved for superheroes or divinities”.

In addition:

One of Elon Musk’s most impressive qualities was his ability to understand and assimilate incredible amounts of information and to convey them flawlessly. After just two years as head of SpaceX, Musk had become an aerospace expert to a degree that few CEOs within the technology sectors were able to match.

A “Muskian” factory

In Ashlee Vance’s view, the SpaceX factory was the equivalent of a small town in terms of population, machines and noise.

Musk put several personal touches in there. The most “Muskian” element was the office space which, between various welding and construction zones, was located in the center of the 50,000 m² open-plan workshop. It was a three-story glass structure, with meeting rooms that all had space-related names.

It was set-up this way:

Elon Musk wanted his engineers, at all times, to be able to see how the machines were used and to have to cross the factory and chat with the technicians on the way to their offices.

Integrated construction

SpaceX’s most significant asset in the rocket world was its integrated construction. Because of the economics and to avoid dependency on suppliers (especially if they were foreign), the company chose to buy as little as possible. So, whilst a normal aerospace company compiled the list of parts required for its launch system and then sent its requirements to a multitude of third parties to manufacture them, SpaceX produced nearly 90% of its rockets (engines, electronic devices and other parts) in-house.

9.3 – The future of SpaceX

Future projects for SpaceX: Dragon 2, Falcon Heavy, space station …

With its flexible, innovative approach and its three thousand employees, SpaceX was a company that was fully equipped to revolutionize space travel.

Finally, someone had built a spaceship in line with the dreams of scientists and filmmakers. There was a sense of style, that was matched by substance.

In May 2012, SpaceX became the only private company to dock with the ISS (International Space Station). NASA then provided it with $440 million to continue with the development of Dragon to transport people.

Dragon 2 will be able to automatically dock to the ISS and other space dwellings without the use of a robotic arm. It will run on a SuperDraco engine – a propeller built by SpaceX that will be the first engine to go into space that is entirely made from a 3D printer. In other words, this engine has been sculpted by a computer-controlled machine from a single block of metal – in this case, a high-strength Inconel alloy – which should give it strength and performance unrivaled by humans who, in the past, have welded different parts together. And the most extraordinary thing revealed by Musk, was that Dragon 2 would be able to land smoothly anywhere on Earth, at SpaceX’s whim, thanks to its SuperDraco engines and thrusters. No more sea landings. No more throwaway spaceships.

The Falcon Heavy, on the other hand, should be the most powerful rocket in the world.

Lastly, SpaceX was also involved in the construction of a space station.

Chapter 10 – Revenge of the electric car

10.1 – The Model S sedan


Turn Model S into an icon

In spite of impossible obstacles, the Roadster established the electric car in the public consciousness. With the Model S, Elon Musk was in search of a vehicle that was also distinctive in its appearance. This required the creation of a sexy sedan, both comfortable and luxurious, that would become an iconic design!

An exceptional, all-electric, ultimate luxury vehicle

In 2012, Tesla Motors launched the Model S sedan, which:

  • Could travel 435 kilometers with a single charge.
  • Achieved 100 km/h in 4.4 seconds.
  • Seated seven people and was equipped with two trunks,
  • Had a flat battery under the car and an electric motor, the size of a watermelon, located between the front wheels.
  • Could drive silently (no engine).
  • Had concealed door handles that pop out of the body when the driver approached, then retracted and disappeared again as soon as they were inside.
  • Allowed the driver to control most of the car’s functions with the use of one finger on a 17-inch touch screen.
  • Had a permanent Internet connection that allowed you to listen to continuous music and display large Google maps on a touchscreen console.
  • Did not need to be started with a key or button: the driver’s weight on the seat coupled to the remote control of the key (in the form of a miniature Model S) was all that is needed to start the engine.
  • Had an air conditioning/heating system that could be started remotely via a smartphone application (which also allowed you to see where the car was parked on a map).
  • Had automatic functions through a software suite.
  • Could be recharged free of charge at Tesla stations across the United States and around the globe.
  • Consumed the equivalent of 2.35 L/100 km.

As a result, this car outperformed most other luxury sedans in terms of speed, mileage, how it handled and storage space. Lightweight, because it was made of aluminum, the car achieved the highest ever crash safety rating. For environmentalists, the Model S is an efficiency reference.

Unprecedented customer service and support

How the Model S was acquired and operated broke with all automotive traditions. Tesla sold the Model S online, through its website or in its Apple-inspired stores. When customers purchased them, they could work out how much fuel they could save. They could also configure the options of their future Model S on large touch screens.

Once purchased, the cars came elegantly packaged, wherever you wanted it. It was also possible to pick it up at checkout after a visit to the Tesla factory with family or friends.

Moreover, Tesla’s philosophy differed from that of the traditional automotive industry in its focus on service.

With no need for a mechanic to fix an internal combustion engine, any issues with the car could be solved remotely. If, for example, an owner reported a problem, Ashlee Vance explains:

While the owner is asleep, the engineers connected to the car via the Internet and download a software update. When they drive the next morning, they feel like some magical elves have been at work whilst they slept.

A computer on wheels

Tesla turned the car into a machine that improved after you bought it.

Basically, software updates allowed new functions to be added to the Model S. Overnight, the company could use this software to install new traction controls for mountain or motorway driving, or with faster recharge capabilities than before, or a new set of voice commands.

The Model S soon became a real phenomenon, far beyond the popularity imagined by car manufacturers.

The Model S was not only the best electric car, but it was also the best car, bar none. And it was the car people wanted. Elon Musk had created the car equivalent of the iPhone.

10.2 – Tesla Motors take off

After some difficult times, in May 2009, Tesla began to take off.

There were three main milestones in the company’s development:

  • In January 2010, the Ministry of Energy lent Tesla $465 million.
  • Tesla was able to purchase the General Motors and Toyota plant, 500,000 square meters fully equipped and located close to its headquarters, for almost nothing.
  • In June 2010, Tesla floated on the stock market: the company raised $226 million; its shares jumped 41% on the first day.

A few years later, Tesla once again struggled to stay afloat. The company wasn’t able to keep up with orders. Elon Musk was poised to sell Tesla to Google for $6 billion when a miracle occurred: Tesla’s shares soared on the stock market after the announcement of the company’s first sales figures. Tesla was then able to repay a $465 million loan granted by the government, with interest, and strengthened the public’s confidence in the company.

10.3 – Superchargers

Another of Tesla’s innovations was its network of free charging stations, called Superchargers: Tesla owners should be able to cross the United States and not spend a dime on fuel.

As well as the facility to charge your battery, Tesla offered a faster option in these stations: battery exchange. All you would have to do was park your car over a hole where a robot would remove the battery and replace it with a new one, all in ninety seconds for the same cost as a tank of petrol.

“When you arrive at one of our Tesla stations, you will only have to make one decision,” Musk explained: “free or fast”.

Chapter 11 – The unified field theory of Elon Musk

11.1 – SolarCity

The creation of SolarCity

One day in 2004, Elon Musk and his cousins, the Lyndon brothers, Peter and Russ Rive, left for the Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert. Whilst on the drive in their rented motorhome, Elon suggested to his cousins that they look at the solar energy market.

That was what led to the start of the Rives and their solar panel company called SolarCity, in 2006.

Elon Musk, who helped his cousins put the business together, became the president of SolarCity. He was also the largest shareholder with about a third of the shares.

SolarCity, the largest solar panel installer in the USA

Six years on, SolarCity was the largest solar panel installer in the United States. Like Elon’s other initiatives, SolarCity was not so much a business initiative more a new world vision.

From 2014, the company started to sell energy storage systems, which were made in partnership with Tesla Motors. In June 2014, SolarCity started to produce its solar panels in its own plant in New York State rather than buy them in.

With a network of solar systems run with its own software, SolarCity gradually transformed into an electricity company. Its goal was now to become one of the largest electricity suppliers in the United States.

SolarCity was a crucial piece of what could be called Elon Musk’s unified field theory:

All the companies within it were interconnected, both short and long term. Tesla manufactured batteries that SolarCity could sell to its customers. SolarCity provided the solar panels for Tesla’s charging stations where drivers could get their energy free of charge. Tesla and SpaceX also helped each other. They exchanged their know-how on materials, manufacturing techniques and the intricacies of operating plants built from scratch.

11.2 – Tesla’s future

Projects planned at Tesla

Some of Tesla’s projects included :

  • Model X, known for its falcon wings
  • A lorry
  • An underwater vehicle that can transition from road to water
  • The third-generation Tesla, or Model 3: scheduled for 2017, the planned price of this four-door car was around $35,000 and they were expected to give a true measure of Tesla’s impact on the world. The company hoped to sell hundreds of thousands of them and make electric cars the norm.

Gigafactory, the largest lithium-ion plant in the world

Tesla needed a lot of lithium-ion batteries and would need even more to produce the Model 3. That’s why Elon Musk announced in 2014 that he would build, what he called, the Gigafactory, the world’s largest lithium-ion plant.

The batteries that would be produced would be much better and cheaper than the batteries that existed at the time.

Elon Musk also had plans for electric vehicles that would have a range of 800 kilometers or more.

11.3 – Musk & Co’s ambitions

SpaceX projects

SpaceX :

  • Wanted to perform a manned flight in 2016 and transport astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017.
  • The intention to build and sell satellites, which would signal its entry into one of the most lucrative markets in the space industry.
  • Tested its giant rocket, the Falcon Heavy, which could transport the world’s largest cargo.
  • Continued to develop its reusable rocket technology.
  • Started to build its own space field in South Texas.
  • Wanted to automate the launch process so that rockets could be loaded, positioned and launched on their own.

Elon Musk did not lose sight of his ultimate goal:

The important long-term objective was to establish an autonomous base on Mars. I think that by 2025 SpaceX will have developed a thruster and a spaceship that will be able to carry high volumes of people and supplies to Mars. Once the transport problem has been overcome, it will not be difficult to build a transparent pressurized greenhouse to live in.

He added:

Mars will have to be heated one day if we are to transform it into a planet like Earth. …] At best, this will take a long time. I don’t know how much, between a century and a thousand years. There is no chance that Mars will become another Earth in my life. Well, not zero, but a 0.001% chance.

The Hyperloop

In August 2013, Elon Musk first revealed his idea of Hyperloop. The Hyperloop would cost between $6 billion and $10 billion, much less than the cost put forward for the planned high-speed train between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In fact, the idea was to connect cities that are less than 1,600 kilometers apart through overhead tubes, where people and cars would be transported in pods. These pods would move faster than an aircraft (nearly 1,300 kilometers per hour). The entire system would run on solar energy. Hyperloop would enable passengers to board and disembark whilst they stay in their car.

After a meeting between Elon Musk and Barack Obama (then President of the United States), Shervin Pishevar and Kevin Brogan (and others) formed Hyperloop Technologies Inc.

11.4 – A bright but unclear future

Elon Musk: a man with diverse opinions

Elon Musk’s employees had a tendency to use different descriptions for Musk. They respected his energy and his high standards. But, they regarded him as tough, mean and “capricious”. They also worried about how he could change his views: every time you met with him there was a chance you could lose your job.

“Elon’s worst feature is a complete lack of loyalty and human relationships,” says a former employee. “Many of us have worked tirelessly for him for years and have been thrown out on the street like garbage, no questions asked.”

In early 2014, the dismissal of Mary Beth Brown (described as Musk’s righthand) shocked public opinion. Within SpaceX and Tesla, this dismissal outraged people and showed the heartlessness of Musk.

Elon Musk’s life mission

For many people, Elon Musk is someone who is on the cusp of autism: it’s difficult for him to consider the feelings of others and to be able to care for their well-being. Yet, the author reveals that with his family and close friends, Musk is warm, fun and profoundly emotional.

In the author’s opinion, Musk’s behavior is much more in line with that of “deeply gifted” people. As for his mission – to make humanity a multi-planet species – it comes, says Ashlee Vance, from the huge influence that science fiction and technology have had on his life. To Musk it’s a moral imperative from when he was a child. Ultimately, this has always been his purpose in life.

The sense that he has to fix the world is a burden that Musk feels in his bones. At times he appears to be completely exhausted. But pain has always been part of Musk’s life. Children tortured him at school. His father inflicted mental abuse on him. Then, in turn, he became a perpetrator of abuse with his expectation of inhumane work hours and continuous pressure to push his businesses and workers to their limits.

Unparalleled and revolutionary technological innovations

By 2025, it’s likely that Tesla will have released five or six models and will be a dominant player in the rapid expansion of the electric cars market.

If the current growth continues, SolarCity may well become a major electricity company and the market leader in a solar energy market that is finally on target to fulfill its promises.

There’s a good chance that SpaceX will launch weekly space flights to transport people and freight. Its rockets should be able to circle the Moon several times. From there they will be able to return to land at the Texas Space Centre. Preparations for the first dozen flights to Mars that they announced should be well on track.

Musk, in his fifties, will doubtless be the richest and most powerful man in the world. This large-scale industrialist will be the majority shareholder of three listed companies.

However, the future is uncertain, notably because of the rapid and inevitable changes in the digital world. All three of Musk’s companies are routinely faced with huge technological challenges.

Virtually everything Musk undertakes involves significant risks.


The Internet in space

In January 2015, Elon Musk announced his plan to surround the Earth with satellites. The aim was to provide high-speed download Internet access. For Musk, this would be the initial stage to link the Internet through space to the settlement that, in the future, would be created on Mars.

However, SpaceX already had a competitor who was even more advanced in the race to build and launch these small satellites, OneWeb, a company run by Wyler and funded by Virgin (Richard Branson), Qualcomm and Airbus Defence and Space.

Key developments since this book have been documented

The author has made a number of updates upon the books’ re-issue.

SpaceX :

  • Since 2016, rockets have been launched almost every month, sometimes only three weeks apart.
  • Regularly brings the main stage of its launches back to Earth.
  • Planned to launch unmanned missions to Mars in 2018, and a manned mission in 2025, with a subsequent “regular service” every twenty-six months.

Tesla :

  • Delivered the Model X, at the end of 2015: this was very popular.
  • Introduced the Model 3, in March 2016: a sedan with an expected cost of about $35,000.
  • Plans to run the Gigafactory, the company’s giant battery production plant in Nevada, to full capacity.
  • Promised, in mid-2016, a crossover version of the Model 3, a pickup truck, a delivery van and a type of self-piloted minibus for urban passenger transport.

The autopilot function, the backbone of Tesla

Elon Musk said it will soon be possible to send instructions to the Tesla from just about anywhere:

“Once your car has come to you, you can sleep, read or do whatever you like along the way. You can also register your car in the Tesla shared fleet with the touch of a single button on the Tesla phone app. The money it saves you, whilst you are at work or on vacation, will substantially reduce, or even sometimes exceed, your monthly loan or lease payments.”

The merger of Tesla and SolarCity

Tesla aims to become not only a car manufacturer but also an electricity company that supplies solar panels and battery storage systems. To achieve this, the merger of Tesla and SolarCity is a necessity in Elon Musk’s mind.

Conclusion of “Elon Musk – Tesla, Paypal, SpaceX: the entrepreneur who will change the world” by Ashlee Vance

A visionary giant

This book will totally fascinate and inspire you!

The author has the ability to immerse us in Elon Musk’s world. Ashlee Vance takes us behind the scenes of Elon Musk’s life and through this portrayal, he provides us with a very powerful insight into Musk’s life. His book illuminates the chaotic journey of a visionary and, apparently indestructible, technological giant.

Musk does not operate like an ordinary CEO. He is driven by a personal mission – a mission closely linked to his spirit and ingrained into his mind and soul.

Since his childhood, Elon Musk was considered a genius. His guiding principle is the survival of humanity. This vision provided him with unlimited strength and ambition throughout his life.

I would only want to participate in the first trip to Mars if I were sure that my death would not harm SpaceX,” he said. “I’d like to go, but it’s not necessary. The problem for me is not to visit Mars but to allow a large number of people to go there. Honestly, if I never have to go into space, so be it. The objective is to extend the probable life span of humanity as much as possible.”

Furthermore, Elon Musk’s ability to persevere, to stay the course, to cope with high levels of stress, these things that he demands of himself are, in my opinion, the most impressive features of his personality.

With his incredible technological innovations, Elon Musk has driven Silicon Valley and the world at large to think and dream bigger. He is now widely regarded as the man who can forge a new global economy and alter the rules of the game.

One of the most powerful men in the world

The way in which Musk tackled the energy and aerospace sectors, with no real knowledge of these industries, showed how fearless he was, and that he believed that everything was possible.

Occasionally referred to as a megalomaniac or despot, Elon Musk gives an overview of how the 21st century will unfold.  His successful business ventures have challenged and changed the world’s largest industrial models, along with the rules of the business and entrepreneurial sectors.

Sometimes compared to Steve Jobs, Elon Musk is the current “industrialist of the moment” and the most innovative entrepreneur in America, with the ability to produce results at levels that are seldom seen.

As Justine, his ex-wife, said about him:

He does what he wants and he is uncompromising on that. This is Elon’s world, and we are only its inhabitants.

Strong Points:

  • An inspirational story of a man with incredible vision, a remarkable background and personality;
  • The book shows the other side of the coin, the entrepreneurial journey, in an unbiased way, without adulation or excessive detail of his personal life;
  • Even with all of the scientific and technological data, the book is very easy to read. You understand what is at stake for mankind, but first and foremost, it is a story about a man’s mission

Weak Points:

  • Even though the book was updated, it would be of interest to expand further on Elon Musk’s career since the book was written in 2015.


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