This Christmas I got a copy of the biography Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, a book about the billionaire’s journey from childhood into becoming ‘the world’s most important entrepreneur’. It’s unusually intimate for a book about Elon, who is notorious for refusing interviews. However, he respected the persistence of author Ashlee Vance and granted her a rare sit-down.
The book starts off with a question from Elon to the interviewer, asking, ‘Do you think I’m insane?’ This question kind of frames the whole book, which questions whether it’s grandiose thinking or true insanity that lead him to become the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX.
My favorite part of this book was discovering the history of SpaceX and the story of how Elon transitioned from Paypal to working in space. He always wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact on the world, and in his adulthood decided he wanted to make humans an interplanetary species. And beyond that, he wanted to make people interested in space again.
The goal of SpaceX was, and continues to be, to capture people’s imagination. Elon didn’t want to just regain attention from the public, but also people who worked or wanted to work in the industry. He expressed frustration towards NASA, and how they use old parts and old procedures. Within his company, he pushed for new technology by rethinking parts including the infrastructure, but also the computers inside the machines.
Elon also began implementing innovative Silicon Vally business processes into both his companies. For example, SpaceX integrated the factory workers and the people who planned SpaceX and the engineers all into one building, and they worked together to create all-new parts themselves. This inventive process allowed them to create parts that were more advanced AND cheaper than purchasing elsewhere.
SpaceX continues to make huge breakthroughs in the industry - check out this video of their latest project, where they launched a rocket off a boat then landed it on the same boat:
If you’re interested in reading this book, you can pick up a copy here.