Although Tesla and SpaceX may be two of the most important companies in the world right now, they only got to this point following a few scary moments. In 2008, both companies were incredibly low on cash, and Elon Musk has revealed that he almost had to make a devastating choice over which of the companies he would save.
New book tells Elon Musk’s story
A series of quotes from Ashlee Vance’s new book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” show just how close the companies came to bankruptcy. “I could either pick SpaceX or Tesla or split the money I had left between them,” says Musk, who founded both SpaceX and Tesla.
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“That was a tough decision. If I split the money, maybe both of them would die. If I gave the money to just one company, the probability of it surviving was greater, but then it would mean certain death for the other company. I debated that over and over.”
The financial bind that he found himself in prompted Musk to search for extra money anywhere that he could. The book tells of a dramatic situation that was only saved by SpaceX being awarded a contract with NASA, Musk himself selling some investments, and Tesla backers handing over enough to keep the company operational.
Brush with bankruptcy before huge success
The NASA contract, worth $1.6 billion, gave SpaceX some breathing room, while a $40 million funding round for Tesla saved it from bankruptcy. All was not well in Musk’s personal life either, with a public divorce ongoing at the time. Musk claims it was a tough time, during which he “was just getting pistol-whipped.”
As well as his now ex-wife “torturing” him in the media, his two biggest ventures almost failed. “You have these huge doubts that your life is not working, your car is not working, you’re going through a divorce, and all of those things,” he says. “I felt like a pile of shit. I didn’t think we would overcome it. I thought things were probably fucking doomed.”
Since then things have taken a dramatic upturn for Musk, with both companies becoming hugely important and successful. The full excerpt is available at Bloomberg.