Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future - No Cost Library

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

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

Author(s): Ashlee Vance  
                                    Publisher: HarperCollins Publisher, Year: 2015                                           

Veteran technology author Ashlee Vance gives the first exclusive glimpse at Silicon Valley's most audacious entrepreneur 's remarkable existence and struggles in Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Search for a Fantastic Future. Published with unique access to Musk, family and colleagues, the book follows the story of the billionaire from a poor childhood in South Africa to the top of the corporate world. Vance spent more than 30 hours talking to Musk and met nearly 300 people to hear the turbulent tales of Musk's world-changing businesses: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, and describe a guy who revived American industry and sparked new creativity rates while creating a lot of enemies along the way. Vance uses Musk 's story to answer one of the urgent issues of our time: Could the founder and maker country that has dominated the industrial world for a century ever succeed in an age of intense global competition? He argues that Musk — one of the most unusual and striking figures of American business history — is a contemporary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs. Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future as thrilling and far-reaching as the visionaries of the early age of science fiction literature itself, rather than any other billionaire.

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Book Review:

While growing up in South Africa, Elon Musk dreamed of electric cars and spaceships. Even while being bullied at his high school, he chose to focus on programming, creativity and science instead of on anger and bitterness over the imperfections of his social environment. Strongly motivated, he ventured to the USA to pursue studies and his dreams. Similarly to Nicola Tesla, Elon Musk arrived in America with almost nothing but his talent and a thirst for science. Distinguished student at school, Elon impressed his professors and got an internship at a prestigious financial institution. However, that institution’s prestige quickly diminished in Elon’s eyes when some of his potentially very profitable ideas fell on deaf ears. His disappointment was the very reason for success as it prompted Musk to start his first company — Zip2 in 1995. Before the era of Google Maps or navigation assistants, Zip2 was a convenient catalog of businesses and their physical locations with detailed directions on how to reach them. 

Musk attempted to become a CEO of the company but was blocked by the board of directors. Ultimately, the company was acquired by Compaq and Elon Musk monetized his 7% share in it. However, frustration after frustration made Musk do what he does best — he founded a company for space travel, the ultimate mission of which is to reach Mars. SpaceX is still not there. It has, however, crossed the chasm of trial and error. In fact, SpaceX has already achieved more than most other space launch businesses. It produces its own rockets with its own avionics and software. The rockets have vertical landing capability and are therefore reusable. As of the time of the writing of this article, SpaceX has recovered 20 rockets. In 1999, Elon Musk saw the potential of online banking and started one of the first companies engaged in it — X.com. His work days were long, his progress was incremental, his office was filthy and the food he ate was horrible. 

But even then, Musk demonstrated resilience and resolve shared by very few of his colleagues. Elon’s effort was enormous and positive results quickly followed. It is debatable whether an ordinary person would manage to lead the same company through crossing the startup chasm given the adversities he faced. Often, however, every feature doubles as a defect and such was the case of Elon Musk’s character. Strong character means that one can endure hardship and quickly recover from shocks, but it also means stubbornness. In the extreme case when a person is used to hardship, they may think that everyone should endure in the same way. Such a person could lack in compassion for the suffering of others. A person like that could see others as weak or capricious. The results of such lines of thinking could lead to unpleasant social interactions. When such interactions are highly visible or even a subject of scrutiny, the public backlash may be significant, and it has been so on several occasions for Musk.

 The concrete result for Elon Musk in 2000 was that a coup occurred during his honeymoon that ousted him from his role as CEO of X.com. This left a deep scar in Musk’s mind and gave him the determination to never place himself in a position of vulnerability. From now on, in every one of his following companies, he would be firmly in charge. No one would ever be able to wrestle the CEO position away from him. Tesla started as the fusion between the passion of Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning for electric cars, and Elon Musk’s concept of clean and comfortable transport. Although at first the cars resembled golf carts, Musk’s drive and ambition, coupled with countless overtime hours spent by his engineering team resulted in the best-selling electric car in the world for 2016 and 2018. Elon Musk seems to be driven by a mission that stands above board rooms and quarterly results. He genuinely seems to risk his wellbeing and fortune in order to build a better tomorrow. In his drive, however, he implicitly requests that from everyone else around him. 

That includes his most loyal employees, friends and family members. It could be especially tough when people need a certain degree of individual freedom and have difficulties compromising their relationship with loved and close ones in the name of an elusive goal. There has been numerous cases where Musk has discarded people around him whom he considers not as enthusiastic (including his most loyal assistant — Mary Beth Brown). A lot of times change is a function of structures and systems. Examples of that are prolific throughout humanity’s history. One such example, given by prof Yuval Noah Harari in his incredible book Sapiens is that large social groups lead to the formation of cities and cities lead to the formation of writing systems. But sometimes change is just the residue of the life of a few incredible people. People who despite adversity and the mold of society think about the optimal solutions to problems, work hard and realize them.

 Such a person is Elon Musk. Ashlee Vance has written an engaging and detailed story of the struggle of Musk starting from his family’s origin story all the way to his successes by May, 2015. She seems to be mesmerized by Elon Musk. Even when she tries to present a critical angle of his story, she includes an apologetic finish to all such chapters. Vance’s writing style is colorful and vivid as she describes various details along with the biographic facts. Sometimes she would insert an extra paragraph detailing the clothing of Musk or a scene from their dinner at a restaurant. Other times, she would describe the design of Tesla automobiles or the features of SpaceX’s rockets. This could be considered as tangential to the biographical purpose of the book by some readers, but nevertheless a welcome detour for others. In the final chapter, the author attempts to present a holistic view of the subject of her book. It is definitely enriching to understand what motivates great people, what makes them exert themselves in pursuit of their mission and the book definitely delivers in that aspect. 

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