Book Reviews

The 22 Most Memorable Quotes From The New Elon Musk Book, Ranked

The 22 Most Memorable Quotes From The New Elon Musk Book, Ranked by Matt McFarland, The Washington Post

For anyone interested in technology, entrepreneurship or the price of greatness, Ashlee Vance’s new book, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,” is a tremendous look into arguably the world’s most important entrepreneur.

Vance paints an unforgettable picture of Musk’s unique personality, insatiable drive and ability to thrive through hardship. The book bursts with telling anecdotes and quotes that illuminate who Musk is. Here are some that stood out:

  1. “I do think of him as the Terminator. He locks his gaze on to something and says, ‘It shall be mine.’ Bit by bit, he won me over.” — Justine Musk, Elon’s ex-wife
  2. “We’re all hanging out in this cabana at the Hard Rock Cafe, and Elon is there reading some obscure Soviet rocket manual that was all moldy and looked like it had been bought on eBay.” — Kevin Hartz, an early PayPal investor, describing an outing in Las Vegas that was intended as a time to celebrate the company’s success.
  3. “He’s kind of homeless, which I think is sort of funny. He’ll e-mail and say, ‘I don’t know where to stay tonight. Can I come over?’ I haven’t given him a key or anything yet.” — Google chief executive Larry Page on Elon Musk, who owns a home in Los Angeles but doesn’t have a place in Silicon Valley, which he visits weekly for his work at Tesla.
  4. “Elon said ‘I will spend my last dollar on these companies. If we have to move into Justine’s parents’ basement, we’ll do it.’ ” — Antonio Gracias recalling a dinner with Musk during the 2008 financial crisis.

[Why shades of Asperger’s Syndrome are the secret to building a great tech company]

  1. “I believe the second sentence out of his mouth was, ‘I think a lot about electric cars.’ And then he turned to me and said, ‘Do you think about electric cars?’ ” — Christie Nicholson, the daughter of an adviser to Elon Musk, recalling first meeting Musk at a party. As a college student he was already hooked on electric cars.
  2. “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” — Elon Musk explaining himself to a potential investor.

Update, May 12: Since publication of this article Musk has said he has never called himself a samurai.

  1. “That is no excuse. I am extremely disappointed. You need to figure out where your priorities are. We’re changing the world and changing history, and you either commit or you don’t.” — an anonymous Tesla employee recalling an e-mail from Musk after missing an event to witness the birth of his child.

Update, May 12: Musk has since called this inaccurate and said he would never tell someone to miss a child’s birth for a meeting.

  1. “That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacation will kill you.” — Elon Musk, who nearly died in 2000 from a malaria infection following a trip to Brazil and South Africa.
  2. “I would like to allocate more time to dating, though. I need to find a girlfriend. That’s why I need to carve out just a little more time. I think maybe even another five to 10 — how much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours? That’s kind of the minimum? I don’t know.” — Elon Musk
  3. “Like why did you go steal Tesla’s E? Like you’re some sort of fascist army marching across the alphabet, some sort of Sesame Street robber?” — Elon Musk, recalling his complaint to Ford’s then chief executive Alan Mulally, about blocking Tesla from using the name Model E.

See full article here by The Washington Post

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, And The Quest For A Fantastic Future – Description

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than 30 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies: PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, and to characterize a man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation while making plenty of enemies along the way.

Vance uses Musk’s story to explore one of the pressing questions of our time: can the nation of inventors and creators which led the modern world for a century still compete in an age of fierce global competition? He argues that Musk–one of the most unusual and striking figures in American business history–is a contemporary amalgam of legendary inventors and industrialists like 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.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, And The Quest For A Fantastic Future – Review

From the Inside Flap

There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk’s relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.

In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and inter- viewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation–all while making plenty of enemies along the way.

In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk’s roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk’s net worth soared to more than $5 billion.

At a time when many American companies are more interested in chasing easy money than in taking bold risks on radical new technology, Musk stands out as the only businessman with enough dynamism and vision to tackle–and even revolutionize–three industries at once. Vance makes the case that Musk’s success heralds a return to the original ambition and invention that made America an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future is a brilliant, penetrating examination of what Musk’s career means for a technology industry undergoing dramatic change and offers a taste of what could be an incredible century ahead.

From the Back Cover

“Ashlee Vance has given us an intensely reported, wonderfully spirited account of Elon Musk’s rise to the pinnacle of the business world. This is the definitive look at the man who may have the biggest impact on the human race. Should Musk bring humanity to Mars, this will be the planet’s founding document.” — BRAD STONE, author of the bestselling The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

“Elon Musk is a man after my own heart: a risk taker undaunted by setbacks and ever driven to ensure a bright future for humanity. Ashlee Vance’s stellar biography captures Musk’s remarkable life story and irrepressible spirit.” — RICHARD BRANSON, founder of Virgin Group

“More than any entrepreneur since Steve Jobs, Elon Musk sets the bar for what’s possible in technology. We are fortunate to have our very own real-life Tony Stark in Elon, and here, for the first time, we have his story vividly told.” –MARC ANDREESSEN, venture capitalist and Web pioneer

“Ashlee Vance offers a clear-eyed look at a man who has played the underdog again and again–challenging old thinking and changing the world. I dare anyone to read this book and not be inspired to set their sights a little higher.” –TONY FADELL, creator of the iPod and iPhone, and CEO of Nest Labs

“Elon Musk is one of the greatest entrepreneurial minds of our time. His combination of extreme intelligence, relentless drive, and steadfast belief in his bold ideas is ensuring that all of society has the chance to benefit from his efforts. The book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future is a compelling firsthand, behind-the-scenes look at how Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity were formed, and how Elon works to bring his passions to fruition. He is a unique character changing the world, and Ashlee Vance’s book is a riveting account of how Elon’s game-changing ideas have been conceived and born, and now flourish.” –J. CRAIG VENTER, Ph.D., first human genome sequencer and creator of synthetic life

“This thriling book will make you want to start a car company, build spaceships, and go to Mars. The only downside is when you eventually remember that you’re not Elon Musk.” — AARON LEVIE, CEO of Box

About the Author

ASHLEE VANCE is one of the most prominent writers on technology today. After spending several years reporting on Silicon Valley and technology for the The New York Times, Vance went to Bloomberg Businessweek, where he has written dozens of cover and feature stories for the magazine on topics ranging from cyber espionage to DNA sequencing and space exploration.

Elon Musk

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance