Elon Musk, The Entrepreneur And Innovator Behind SpaceX, Tesla, And SolarCity, Sold One Of His Internet Companies, PayPal, For Billion Ashlee Vance Captures The Full Spectacle And Arc Of The Genius S Life And Work, From His Tumultuous Upbringing In South Africa And Flight To The United States To His Dramatic Technical Innovations And Entrepreneurial Pursuits Vance Uses Musk S Story To Explore One Of The Pressing Questions Of Our Age Can The Nation Of Inventors And Creators Who Led The Modern World For A Century Still Compete In An Age Of Fierce Global Competition He Argues That Musk Is An Amalgam Of Legendary Inventors And Industrialists Including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, And Steve Jobs More Than Any Other Entrepreneur Today, Musk Has Dedicated His Energies And His Own Vast Fortune To Inventing A Future That Is As Rich And Far Reaching As The Visionaries Of The Golden Age Of Science Fiction Fantasy Space Renewable Energy Internet This is a man after my own heart Out of all the super entrepreneurs and technological legends of the modern era, Musk ticks all the boxes on my dreams and passions, particularly space Space has always been the frontier that intrigues me the most for a single man to dream of colonising Mars and actually doing all he can to make that a reality is just simply astounding And then of course, there is Tesla Aside from the clean energy technology which I am a huge proponent of, how an electric car can become one of the most desirable and good looking cars in the world is another example of the visionary genius that Musk is As with all ideas that are so progressive in nature, the trials and tribulations faced by Musk were so daunting that most would ve called it quits His indomitable will and spirit, however, sets him apart from the ordinary He is very demanding on himself, being extremely hands on, and also of his employees Then again, how else are you going to change the world by compromising on the high standards that one sets for oneself.Notwithstanding his crazy but awesome ideas first, the Hyperloop and now, Neuralink the one thing that differentiates him from most current entrepreneurs is that he really seeks to change the world He is not in it just for short term gain, which is what a lot of businesses are doing right now A simple case in point is Tesla s open source patent I ll stop gushing about Musk now and talk a bit about the biography itself The conversational tone employed by the author translated well into audio, and the narrator did a good enough job that it didn t sound monotonous The biography was written from extensive interviews conducted with a plethora of his ex employees, and the people closest to Musk This enabled a independent and less biased insight from one which was self penned not that I believe Musk will ever have the time to do so The biography was also quite educational while I still do not know how to build a rocket or an electric car now I ve gained a better understanding of certain technical aspects of these items and how they work.Whether you re a fan of Musk, or just intrigued by his ideas and achievements, or even if you only just desired the Tesla badly, this is a recommended read This review can also be found at Booknest 3.5 StarsI like the can do attitude Vance took with hounding Musk and wearing him down till he agreed to cooperate with this biography I also appreciated all the Holy crap, Musk is CRAZY CRAZY like a fox, moments I had while reading this The only thing that keeps this from being a 4 star book is that the reporting and writing leans too heavily on idolatry There were passages where I literally cringed at how much of a fanboy Vance sounded like. Read for Book Riot s 2017 Read Harder challenge 13 Read a nonfiction book about technologyThis book had its ups and downs for me the high points being Elon s early years and how he got started in the business world with companies like PayPal The low points were the loooong chapters detailing how Tesla Motors came to be, and the technicalities behind rockets being built In theory, I found all of this to be interesting, but while reading I found those bits to be a bit boring.Overall, a pretty interesting book about a very complex man and his accomplishments I love how dedicated Musk is to meeting his goals colonizing Mars, heck yeah and how he really just wants to make the world a better place with his work in electric vehicles and solar power Ultimately, I m glad I read this book, even though it took a little longer than I would have liked. Let me offer this thought SpaceX is the coolest and most exciting company in the world at this moment in time.Yes, Tesla is also extremely cool And inspiring But nothing can beat that feeling of power, wonder and deep inspiration that SpaceX will give you as soon as you start to understand what that company is actually doing As Vance says, SpaceX IS Elon Musk So who is this man How is it humanly possible to achieve what he has achieved What else can he achieve in the future Will he become the richest man on Earth Or on Mars Not only this book is written in a very passionate and engaging way I also find that it is a very important book for anyone who is at least a little curious about our present and our future.In fact, I believe Ashlee Vance s portrait of Elon Musk is a necessary read for anyone, because of the effect that his companies are having on the automotive, the clean energy, and the space industries If these companies are not changing the future, at the very least they are accelerating our pace towards it.Vance starts out in a ballsy way, stating that he won t budge he will write whatever he wants, however he wants it As I got to the end of the book, I had a strong feeling that this is not exactly the case, and that a lot has been left out However, the information that is in the book is absolutely fascinating It is the first biography I ve ever read that I would categorize as a real page turner The missing facts that stand out the most in my opinion are 1 Childhood troubles Musk keeps referring to a very painful and troubled childhood, but in the book all we get is some bullying and social awkwardness Plus, a father who was psychologically abusive There are many unanswered questions there, and I think Vance chose to be respectful and not dig too deeply.2 The miraculous last minute save of both Tesla and SpaceX in 2008 not enough details Something crucial seems to be missing Whether it is a few private donors who poured in extra millions, or some other turn of fate I don t know if Vance knows what is missing there, but something is missing Overall, Elon Musk comes across as a normal human being with exceptional ambition, exceptional luck, exceptional physical energy, exceptional intelligence and exceptional confidence in his vision He is an inspiration for many, and beyond Elon Musk, his companies and his vision are a huge inspiration Did you notice how the most popular fictional depictions of the future YA, etc in this day and age are pessimistic, dystopian, self hating like teenagers Well, Elon Musk is offering us a window into a future that is the exact opposite of that Very similar to Arthur Clarke, my favorite author, another optimistic visionary Musk s vision of the future is so bright that reminds me of the golden age of science fiction, when Clarke and Asimov were writing, when people had the courage to dream beautiful, positive dreams about the future It sounds like an advertisement for a soap, but yes with Musk, the future is bright again Finally, I have a comment about being a nerd in the first part of the book, the kid Elon Musk is called a nerd about a million times Why is it that in America and in South Africa, as it seems a very smart kid who is into reading a lot instead of playing sports, invariably, is called a nerd The fact that this word DOES NOT EXIST and cannot be translated into many European languages tells us something about America I think Isaac Asimov was onto somehting when he said The strain of anti intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge my wonderful blog is here Btw, great to find out that Robert Zubrin was a big influence on Musk He is the head of the Mars Society, a man who has been thinking about going to Mars much longer than Elon Musk has I read Zubrin s The case for Mars many years ago, and I was utterly fascinated by it. There are few people outside of the fiction world that I truly admire, but barring some unseen or future tragedy, I think Musk might well be on the way to becoming my hero.If I didn t know any better, I might be looking at all his stated claims and seeing all the echoes of Asimov and Heinlein being dragged out of the page and brought to life.Skip the whole Iron Man image for a second.Let s talk about Ayn Rand.Musk is John Galt As in Atlas Shrugged Sure, he s also Dagney, too, or perhaps like Dagney in that he s unwilling to let humanity roll around in the mud despite all the backstabbing and idiocracy, in that he hasn t said, enough is enough But the day is young Wait until we get to Mars Wait until we really take the man of genius and effort for granted And THEN we ll see what we ll miss once it is taken away.Ahhh, I don t want to see this man out of classic SF heroes become anything other than his stated goals I ll be honest here He s giving me real hope for humanity Maybe optimism isn t unfounded after all.This biography tells me one hell of a great narrative Is it life imitating art The best ideals from the grandmasters Who knows But right now, I have real hope I m holding on to it for my very soul Let s MAKE the future we wanted Let s NOT let anything stand in our way HELL YAH , Napster, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, PayPal, Tesla Motors , 20 10 PayPal Tesla Roadster , SpaceX , SpaceX SolarCity , space warp , SpaceX Tesla Motors 100 2,5 SolarCity the Force is strong with this family Well, I work a lot 80 100 , 11 14 SpaceX , Tesla , Falcon ,. Excellent and inspiring This book brought up one key question do you have to be a bit reckless to be good Musk was reckless in two areas in the risks he took, and the way that he manages his companies.As for the first, the number of near death experiences that Tesla, SpaceX and earlier companies went through is almost a running joke throughout this story The Falcon 1 failed three times, exhausting the company s funds, before achieving a successful fourth flight Tesla avoided bankruptcy by taking on a NASA approved loan from SpaceX plus a last minute acquisition of a company Musk invested in pulled through, and avoided being derailed by a predatory investor by a bluff on the order of 40 million Combine these with the many situations where it didn t look like Tesla was going to build anything substantial, plus the negative media attention the fact that Musk continued to persevere and pull through at times where most normal people would have given up is crazy.This risk undoubtedly took a toll on his life and relationships, through three divorces and the insane sleep deprivation he and the others on the team go through It brings up the question when you re doing things as big as this, how reckless do you have to be Should you have a breaking point Does the sustainable, get eight hours of sleep and exercise approach really work Or is the right thing to do actually to push through, get four hours of sleep, and get shit done Are those that prefer the sustainable option the ones that don t succeed as much, and the reckless ones the ones that actually make progress As for the second, the way that he manages his companies, he was reckless in what he demanded from people The most notable story is of SpaceX, where employees worked on a crappy atoll in the Marshall Islands for months to deliver the Falcon 1 rocket launches In a Jobs like fashion, his outward personality is cold, demanding, and fearful employees are on edge all the time and have to have answers If someone is the bottleneck on a project, there s immense pressure on them to deliver And you never want to be the deliverer of bad news and if you are, you better have a solution to back it up The savvy engineers knew better than to go into a meeting and deliver bad news without some sort of alternative plan at the ready One of the scariest meetings was when we needed to ask Elon for an extra two weeks and money to build out another version of the Model S, Javidan said We put together a plan, stating how long things would take and what they would cost We told him that if he wanted the car in thirty days it would require hiring some new people, and we presented him with a stack of resumes You don t tell Elon you can t do something That will get you kicked out of the room You need everything lined up Loc 4277 And while that is actually a good way to work to have everything lined up is Musk s approach the right way to manage a company Is it the only way to be successful on incredibly difficult things Or are Tesla and SpaceX successful in spite of this way of working that it actually holds people back Other than those questions, this is a very good overview of Musk s life and personality, and the trials and tribulations he went through to be successful a path beset by an immense number of setbacks and late deliveries.What comes through clearly is how much of a genius this guy was To get a sense of what this guy is like, consider that in his childhood, he ran out of books to read at the local library and the school library, and sometimes would read for ten hours a day Dude also has a memory that s not only photographic, but he can wrangle images and numbers and relationships between them in his head Insane His ability to ingest and retain information, and his approach to knowledge, is nuts People who have spent significant time with Musk will attest to his abilities to absorb incredible quantities of information with near flawless recall It s one of his most impressive and intimidating skills and seems to work just as well in the present day as it did when he was a child vacuuming books into his brain After a couple of years running SpaceX, Musk had turned into an aerospace expert on a level that few technology CEOs ever approach in their respective fields Loc 3421 What also comes across was how much Musk believes in the technological future and how much he as done to restore that promise to humanity It s clear that he is one of the top people pushing technology and humanity forward, and that s incredibly inspiring.What I found a bit lacking in this book, which would have made this an excellent book, was about Musk s inner life Vance hypothesizes that Musk seems cold and non emotional because he has a different sort of empathy than others he emphasizes with the entire human species, and wants to do the most he can for them, but that makes him forget the individuals in front of him But what does Musk think about this How does Musk characterize his own values and experiences Of course, this is something that few biographies do anyway, but for someone as dynamic as Musk, it would have been a welcome addition to the surface level what he did information.The guy s a genius, and this book, I think, represents that well The inside look into Musk s life and work from the mid 2000s is thorough and really gives you a fantastic backstory into Musk s experience with Tesla and SpaceX showing he did to make them successful, making this into an endlessly inspiring biography.FIVE STARS Changed how I see things Whether you follow him or his companies works, Elon Musk is an important innovator of our times, and I would suggest everyone to read this book to get inspired or experience another world I really admire how Vance captured his biography, which is not an easy thing to do If you read a little bit, you ll understand Musk is not the most easy going person in the world The author opens the book in a very intriguing way starting from why Musk allowed him to write his biography, which starts to shed some light into his character It was really interesting to read about how SpaceX, Tesla and all his other success stories started, how he jumped from one ambition to another, and how he runs his companies Obviously, Musk is no normal person He runs after his heart, and his dreams He s not only after making a lot of money, but he wishes a self sufficient world before he leaves it himself I do admire how he uses his intellect, his efforts and resources to do innovations that would be good for the earth Clean technology, colonisation in Mars, solar power, etc He s probably one of the most persistent person I ve ever read about All the difficulties he s thrown at would make any one of us to give up, but he still goes after his dreams He s tough, both on himself and his employees It s not easy to work for him But, yet again, it s also not easy to aim to change how the world operates So, we can t expect ordinary from him All in all, I would really suggest this book to anybody It s interesting, fascinating, very well captured inner world of this genius I truly admired even than before I read this book Thanks a lot to NetGalley and the publisher for granting a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Ashlee Vance is an award winning feature writer for Bloomberg Businessweek magazine Vance is also the host of the Hello World TV show Previously, he worked for The New York Times and The Register.Vance was born in South Africa, grew up in Texas and attended Pomona College He has spent than a decade covering the technology industry from San Francisco and is a noted Silicon Valley historia
- 400 pages
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
- Ashlee Vance
- 24 September 2018 Ashlee Vance