back to article Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future

Elon Musk might be one of the most personally obnoxious tycoons to emerge from a culture that isn’t bereft of complete shits. Think Larry Ellison, or Steve Jobs. According to one former employee of his, Musk has “a complete lack of loyalty or human connection”. Yet he’s also by far the most interesting, and his achievements …

  1. AbelSoul
    Headmaster

    Nice article but...

    My Eyes! Almost the entire second page is in italics.

    Anyway, looks like this might be a half-decent book about a rather intriguing chap.

  2. Chris Miller

    We need a UK Musk

    to torpedo the ludicrous pork-barrel farrago that is HS2.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: We need a UK Musk

      HS2 is needed in some form. Closing the central line was a remarkably shortsighted Beeching action.

      The best way to build it is to ignore London and run it from Birmingham north. It makes little economic sense to go south from Birmingham unless it's run directly to link into HS1 outside the M25.

  3. astrax

    From Musk to Dawn

    There is quite an appetising irony in seeing Musk perpetually shove general humanness aside in order to deliver mankind kicking and screaming into a brave new world. Love him or hate him (or, like me, be totally indifferent to him), no one can deny Musk continues to have a tremendous impact on a global scale, whether it is genuinely for the benefit of Earth's inhabitants or to simply give his already supermassive ego a Swedish massage.

    tl;dr Looks like a decent read, might have to pick up a copy :)

  4. David Dawson

    as Mr Bernard Shaw tells us..

    "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man"

    Elon Musk seems to be the archetype of this. Unreasonable at every level, reshaping the world on a grand scale.

    We need people like this, I'm not totally sure we'd get along :-)

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: as Mr Bernard Shaw tells us..

      I feel the same way, David.

    2. el rekrab

      Re: as Mr Bernard Shaw tells us..

      Regarding the Shaw quote: For some definitions of "progress".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Agreed, good book.

    It was a good read, and candid and honest in a way Americans do well, but Brits seem to eschew.

    Your "Launches every few days" link shows only that SpaceX currenlty fails to do that. Did you click it ?

    [ Not sure what you said on the second page, I never click Next Page when an article is needlessly paginated. ]

  6. TeeCee Gold badge
    Joke

    Obvious much?

    He's got beeelions of dollars[1].

    He's a tycoon of industry (auto manufacturing).

    He's got his own spaceships.

    He's even called Elon Musk FFS! Come on, let's face it; If you were reading a book and it had a billionaire tycoon character called "Elon Musk" in it, you'd be pretty bloody sure you'd worked out who it was behind the plot to take over the world using humungous space-based laser weapons.

    You just know there's an island sporting fetching volcanic secret base accessories somewhere in his property portfolio.

    [1] The maniacal laugh is implicit in that.

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Jeff Bezos actually has something to show for his efforts

    Do not underestimate Bezos. Blue Origin may still be in the POC phase, but technologically it has achieved a hell of a lot - to the point where it is already contracted to deliver engines to other launch franchises.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SolarCity is based on federal tax credit

    Seems a bit of an oversight, really. SolarCity's entire business model is predicated on subsidies and incentives, then flipping the asset to an investor.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: SolarCity is based on federal tax credit

      Solar is a fairly pointless boondoggle. Hopefully solarcity will prove that.

      Solar and wind farms are subsidy farms (not just direct money, the requirements that power distributers take power from them at fixed (above market level) rates plus maintain backing generation capacity at their own costs are indirect subsidies.

      The costs of transporting energy from large farms to endpoints is far higher than simply investing in better nuke technology - and solar needs backing capacity because it's not 100% reliable/doesn't work at night.

      _IF_ thorium molten salt tech gets going (in all liklihood it will), then it's inherently highly throttlable (no Xenon poisoning) and at that point there's no point in using it as backing capacity for wind/solar/tidal because its real benefit is being able to provide baseline and peak hour power with hydro picking up the 30 second surges (there is no practical hydro capacity left to build in the west and in undeveloped countries nuclear would be cheaper).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SolarCity is based on federal tax credit

        Hush now, those inconvenient facts don't fit with the desired narrative. I still struggle with the concept of the internal power wall. WTF would I want to put a battery technology with a chequered safety record on the inside of my home on such a scale?

  9. gary27

    Amazing guy

    Brilliant book, I could not stop reading it, his life is so fascinating, as someone said in the book, this guy is like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Henry Ford all rolled into one, he is the genius of our time, wish there were more like him, for the sake of humanity.

    The Global warming religion, is I believe, a complete scam, but electric cars, solar panels still make sense for many other reasons, such as: reduced polution, better performance & reliability, security of energy supply etc and they only make sense, because of this guy, before him the idea of taking electric cars and solar powered homes seriously, was comical - and in his spare time, he also made a success from temperamental risky dangerous rocket ships, using millions instead of billions, truly extraordinary!

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Amazing guy

      "The Global warming religion, is I believe, a complete scam"

      I wish you were right. AGW effects are already happening, the question isn't "is it happening", it's "how badly are we fucked in the long term?"

  10. DryBones

    So basically he's the very model of a psychopath, or sociopath, or whatever, and people love him. I seem to recall there being some study or government plan for a post-disaster response that involved putting all of those people in charge because they wouldn't have any empathy and would do what needed to be done. And everyone and their brother piled scorn on it. No wonder people say he's the next Steve Jobs, he inherited the reality distortion field.

    Most of us don't want to work for someone that's a right knob, you know.

    1. Kharkov
      Boffin

      Being sacked by Elon...

      Was it cold for Elon to do the woman's job for two weeks, decide that it didn't deserve a pay raise and probably didn't deserve to be at the pay grade it was at, and then fire the woman?

      Yes, it was. Was it necessary or needed? I'd lean towards 'probably'.

      Remember, at the salary (and bonus?) levels we're talking here, losing your job doesn't cause the same hardship that losing a minimum-wage, entry-level job does for someone without much in the bank. At higher levels, people will have reserves in the bank, and the ability, within six months - which I don't expect to cause financial hardship, to find an alternative job that pays at the same grade.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: at the salary (and bonus?) levels we're talking here

        You've clearly never met anyone working at those salary levels. Like a wage slave few of them are rarely more than a paycheck away from having to file bankruptcy. And in any event being fired is never easy, even if you don't NEED the money.

        It is entirely possible the position was unnecessary and she should have been let go. But never make light of being fired, especially someone who has spent a long time on the job and who has never had a bad performance review.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    What other tech tycoon does this remind you of?

    Brilliant in some ways, micromanaging some stuff while ignoring important details, can be an asshole at times...

  12. goldcd

    If Elon didn't exist..

    we'd have to.. oh ok, maybe a bit much. But.

    History book are stuffed with characters who flipped their middle-digits at the status-quo and changed stuff, and shaped the world we live in as a result.

    Then it all got a bit bland.

    Elon is pretty much the only person I've ever wanted to see "what he'll do next".

    The bit that depresses me is that he's pretty much unique. I want a Tesla to his Edison (or Edison to his Tesla). An Amundsen to his Scott, a.. you get my drift. Just seems a bit sad he has to go off and do this all by himself.

  13. Grumpy Fellow
    Trollface

    Mom told me

    It is nice to be important, but it is more important to be nice.

    1. Brandon 2

      Re: Mom told me

      This is true, in a personal relationship, but when it comes to business, firing someone that is under performing or demanding more money than they're "worth" is hardly the act of a heartless "sociopath". It just makes sense. Maybe I'm a heartless jerk, but if my company's livelihood was on the line, and that of the many employees, I'd make the same decision on principle. He sticks to his guns, and that kind of discipline often rubs people the wrong way.

  14. RikC

    Such personalities...

    Are a boon when come together with a mind that has great ideas...

    Less so when they end up in a tenured position with little real-world checks and balances.

  15. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Did we ever find out what happened to the Tesla customer service representative who advised a journalist to give hid battery a quick charge to warm it up after the car spent a freezing night outside? He duly ran out of charge, reported this and Musk went batshit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I can't find the story you are refferring to. However, I did find a thread on a similar subject from Tesla owners:

      http://my.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/battery-losing-1-mile-hour-when-parked

      It would appear that with more data about Li-ion in low temperatures, the software will be updated to make better predictions about range, and presumably the software will also become better at advising the user on how/when to charge their vehicle.

  16. Pitron

    mining asteroids

    He'll be the first, richest, and the most embroiled in lawsuits and controversy when he does it. He's got the long view.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: mining asteroids

      Robinette Broadhead?

  17. mrbofus

    "Brown asked for a pay rise. Musk told her to go on a two week vacation, during which he would do her job to assess whether her request was justified. On her return, Musk decided it wasn't. “Twelve years is a good run for any job,” Musk tells Vance, coldly."

    That really sucks for Brown, but if Musk really could do her job and continues to do so, then firing her was justified. Now, if Musk told her that and then turned around and hired someone else to do that same job, then that is all sorts of f**ked up.

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      "but if Musk really could do her job and continues to do so"

      We shall see. Few weeks without a major PR disaster is hardly an indication.

      Just to squeeze in a movie reference:

      "I heard that this Winston Wolf is supposedly good at solving problems. Well, it's been two weeks without any dead bodies or other "problems" to take care of. Remind me again, why are we keeping him on the payroll?"

  18. jrwc

    How Much Too Tesla?

    Ok, I know Tesla got a bloated check from the bloated U.S Government and it was a fraction of what GM got, but how much, EXACTLY. Tesla defends getting 4.9 Billion as of late.

    But Musk complains "None of the incentives are necessary. They are all helpful,” Musk countered, describing the various incentives as catalysts that speed up the rate of innovation, offered because voters “want a particular thing to happen, and want it to happen faster than it would otherwise occur.” From the RT.Com

    Thank You Bloated Government

    1. Tom 13

      Re: How Much Too Tesla?

      The GM comparison is a complete red herring. Anybody following what happened with the car industry knows GM was just the shell company passing the money through to the unions. The unions financed The Big 0's first campaign as well as his second.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: How Much Too Tesla?

      I concur about the bloated government part. Because he is actually producing new stuff, I don't hold it against Musk that he takes the freebies the government is handing out against my wishes. I do hold it against companies that beg for and depend exclusively on those subsidies. You know, outfits like Boeing and Northrup Gruman who in my estimation are no better than Airbus.

  19. James Hughes 1

    In my stack...

    Had it on preorder, but now have a stack of books with others to get through first. Might change the order....

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