Home > Uncategorized > Elon Musk, the 21st Century Industrialist – Businessweek

Elon Musk, the 21st Century Industrialist – Businessweek

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Musk is not easy to work with. Former employees, none of whom would speak on the record, describe him as autocratic and blunt to the point of offensive. Musk had a long-running feud with Martin Eberhard, co-founder and former CEO of Tesla. Eberhard resigned under contentious circumstances and later sued Musk for libel. For a time, Eberhard kept a blog documenting Musk’s alleged poor treatment of employees. Eventually, the two sides reached an agreement to stop disparaging each other publicly. “Like Jobs, Elon does not tolerate C or D players,” says Jurvetson. “But I’d say he’s nicer than Jobs and a bit more refined than Bill Gates.”

The employees who stick with him seem to love him. The SpaceX staff pulled all-nighters during the recent mission to the space station, and their factory never closes. When the Model S sedans began rolling off the factory lines, Tesla employees waved American flags and shed actual tears of joy.

Musk splits his time between the factories in Los Angeles and Fremont, spending a few days in each location every week. When he’s in Silicon Valley, he crashes at friends’ houses rather than staying at hotels. “We play video games together and eat some food,” says Bill Lee, an early investor in SpaceX and Tesla who hosts Musk at his home.

Freeing mankind from the scourge of carbon, not to mention its terrestrial shackles, has taken a toll on Musk’s personal life. In August he finalized his divorce from his second wife, the actress Talulah Riley. He’s had one vacation in four years. This summer he took his five boys—twins and triplets—to Maui with Kimbal and his family. “I think the time allocated to the businesses and the kids is going fine,” says Musk. “I would like to allocate more time to dating, though. I need to find a girlfriend. How much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours?”

On the assumption that people will be living on earth for some time, Musk is cooking up plans for something he calls the Hyperloop. He won’t share specifics but says it’s some sort of tube capable of taking someone from downtown San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes. He calls it a “fifth mode of transportation”—the previous four being train, plane, automobile, and boat. “What you want is something that never crashes, that’s at least twice as fast as a plane, that’s solar powered and that leaves right when you arrive, so there is no waiting for a specific departure time,” Musk says. His friends claim he’s had a Hyperloop technological breakthrough over the summer. “I’d like to talk to the governor and president about it,” Musk continues. “Because the $60 billion bullet train they’re proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They’re going for records in all the wrong ways.” The cost of the SF-LA Hyperloop would be in the $6 billion range, he says.

Musk is also planning to develop a new kind of airplane: “Boeing just took $20 billion and 10 years to improve the efficiency of their planes by 10 percent. That’s pretty lame. I have a design in mind for a vertical liftoff supersonic jet that would be a really big improvement.”

After a few hours with Musk, hypersonic tubes and jets that take off like rockets start to seem imminent. But interplanetary travel? Really? Musk says he’s on target to get a spacecraft to the red planet in 10 to 15 years, perhaps with him on board. “I would like to die on Mars,” he says. “Just not on impact.”

via Elon Musk, the 21st Century Industrialist – Businessweek.

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