Elon Musk Tesla SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
1. A summary of the book
Elon Musk born in 1971 to a Canadian mother and an Afrikaner father in Pretoria, South Africa. He grew up mostly in Texas. His parents divorced when he was young. In either eighth or ninth grade Musk was attacked by a group, kicked in the head, thrown down stairs, then kicked and beaten bloody until blacked out. Musk exhausted the resources of the school library and reads the entire encyclopedia. He would answer all the questions about statistics, and explanations, and remembers what he read. Musk left South Africa for good at the age of 17. His mother’s Canadian citizenship was passed down to her children. Musk was on the way to being drafted into the South African army. He had his eyes set for America and Canada as the gateway. Musk obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics and the other in economics. Some of his undergraduate papers were space-based solar power plants and ultra-capacitors for energy storage. Musk’s first company was with his brother is called, Zip2. It pushed him into more “mature” management which he didn’t profit from the experience. Years later the company became PayPal and provided a greater payoff. The early experiences of Silicon Valley gave Musk the capital and contracts to use as a springboard for the bigger projects. Musk has other companies: Tesla Motors produce electric cars, SolarCity, produce electricity, and SpaceX, private company to make humanity a multi-planetary species. 2007, Musk gave a tour of the SpaceX factory to Robert Downey Jr. Downey modeled core parts of the Tony Stark character, Iron Man. 2008 both Tesla and SpaceX were on the brink of bankruptcy. Musk met Tallulah Riley and became his second wife. September was the fourth launch of Falcon I and the holiday season brought a last-minute financial reprieve. The deal closed on Christmas Eve hours before Tesla went bankrupt. Musk put $12 million in and the investment firms put in the rest. Years later, Musk tested many new rockets, some of them were successful and some failed bad. Tesla had to test new models of the electric cars, and some of them are now can drive themselves. Musk’s goal is to send humanity to Mars and other planets to colonize them. He wants to “die on Mars, just not on impact.” Physics is a precise business. Previous electric cars failed because of power limitations, and range anxiety.
2. What do you think the entrepreneur did wrong?
Elon Musk has been involved in string of lawsuits, stock price dips, and removal as Tesla chairman. He went from visionary to out of control. Wall Street asked Musk about the company’s finance after a first quarter earnings conference where Musk was criticized. He then went to target short-sellers, or the investors that borrow shares of Tesla and sold them. Next, he labelled British diver that aided in the cave rescue of Thai soccer players in Thailand, a pedophile. The most recent controversy was the “420” tweet. Analysts and investors want the board to replace Musk as CEO but keep him as chief product officer. The tweet was, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” The SEC filed a case to remove Musk as CEO. The complaint was about how he committed securities fraud with false statements about plans to take the company private. They also said the price of $420 was a slang reference to marijuana to amuse his girlfriend.
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3. What did the entrepreneur do right?
The first company Musk had, PayPal, made his first billion dollars when he sold the company. SpaceX is worth more than $20 billion. Musk and SpaceX made history in 2012 when the company launched Falcon 9 rocket into space with unmanned capsule. It had 1000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed there. This was the first time a private company sent a spacecraft to the ISS. December 2013, Falcon 9 carried a satellite into space to match the Earth’s orbit. February 2015 there was another launch for Falcon 9 that had a Deep Space Climate Observatory(DSCOVR) satellite that observed extreme emissions from the sun. March 2017 launched and landed a Falcon 9 rocket made from reusable parts. September 2017 Musk showed a new design plan for the BFR (Big Falcon rocket), that can carry at least 100 people and had a 31-engine behemoth. SpaceX wants to be the first cargo mission to Mars with vehicle in 2022 to colonize the planet.
4. How would you have done things if you were in their position?
One way I would have done things differently is, don’t tweet about making the company private and use “$420.” It ticks people off and might get you sued with the Security and Exchange Commission. Another thing I would have done different is, don’t wait until the last minute to fix the company and hope a miracle comes around. The last thing is, keep investing.
5. What economic principles (things you learned in this course) were used in this business? Use examples from the book.
The business model used by Tesla and SpaceX all depended on delivering a mature technique at a smaller cost. Musk wants humans to colonize Mars and other planets. Before SpaceX was created, other firms that had launch facilities are aggregators that produced guided systems, engines, and other parts from different companies. All these added to the expanses. After every launch, the rocket was thrown out and made total business costly. SpaceX produces 85% of all the parts in house. The reusable rocket will change the economics of space travel. Tesla produces 80% in house. Tesla squeezes out expenses and it made the cost drop. The battery that Tesla makes is less and is the backbone of the company’s framework. It wants to bring expenses down 35% by getting economies of scale.
6. What did you get out of this book.
What I got out of this book was, who Elon Musk was, what he did, and how he is trying to get humans to colonize Mars. This book was good, and it was very interesting how Musk got to where he is today. If he gets humans to Mars to colonize then he will be the world’s most innovative person. Tweeting “$420” was a stupid thing to do, and he should never do that again. I really hope he can get more environmentally friendly parts used in the rockets to get people to Mars.