Rob Weidner

Optimist & Storyteller

Rob Weidner is a storyteller based in Cape Town, South Africa who enjoys empowering others with his creativity and optimism.  Technically, Rob is a freelance aerial and ground camera operator focused on feature films and long-form narrative projects, but aside from that, he can also make a mean homemade pizza. To check out what he is up to now, check out his Now page.

My Thoughts and Highlights on: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future | Ashlee Vance

Two years ago, my father was faced with the decision of purchasing a new car and being a driver of some of the best consumer-performance vehicles on the market with BMWs, Jaguars, and Audis; it only made sense to keep the car search headed in that direction.  While having to keep the possibility of long road trips, the winter snow storms, and typical day-to-day driving habits in mind, the idea of getting a Tesla Model S was not on his mind.  After much convincing just to get him to test drive one, the battle was over, and he was sold.  Since then, he has upgraded his Model S already to the new generation that allows for the autosteer technology and all-wheel drive capabilities.  My fascination with Elon Musk was only solidified at that point, as an avid user of PayPal.  The Musk name was also intriguing because of my love of South Africa, and the role of South Africans in the business world.

Ashlee Vance is also an inspiration in the technology and journalism world.  He has a very cool YouTube show with Bloomberg called Hello World located here: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-hello-world/

Here are my notes and highlights from Ashlee Vance's (also South African) impressive biography Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Eighteen months earlier, I’d informed him of my plans to write a book about him, and he’d informed me of his plans not to cooperate. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 220-22

Musk wanted a measure of control over his life’s story. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 227-28

While I could understand his perspective, I could not let him read the book, for professional, personal, and practical reasons. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 229-30

One thing that Musk holds in the highest regard is resolve, and he respects people who continue on after being told no. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 249-50

Dozens of other journalists had asked him to help with a book before, but I’d been the only annoying asshole who continued on after Musk’s initial rejection, and he seemed to like that. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 250-51

Turning humans into space colonizers is his stated life’s purpose. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 265

Forget Steve Jobs. Musk is a sci-fi version of P. T. Barnum who has gotten extraordinarily rich by preying on people’s fear and self-hatred. Buy a Tesla. Forget about the mess you’ve made of the planet for a while. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 274-76

One day, soon enough, we’ll be able to download our brains to a computer, relax, and let their algorithms take care of everything. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 279-80

He was also the chairman and largest shareholder of SolarCity, a booming solar energy company poised to file for an initial public offering. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 289-90

It’s just that there’s a sense of purpose and pressure hanging over any conversation with the man. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 319

You no longer had to make something that other people wanted to buy in order to start a booming company. You just had to have an idea for some sort of Internet thing and announce it to the world in order for eager investors to fund your thought experiment. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 348-50

The whole goal was to make as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time because everyone knew on at least a subconscious level that reality had to set in eventually. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 350-51

Oddly enough, making Nothing appear to be Something took a lot of work. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 353-54

Playing it safe suddenly became the fashionable thing to do. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 367

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” Jeff Hammerbacher, an early Facebook engineer, -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 373-74

In 2005, Huebner delivered a paper, “A Possible Declining Trend in Worldwide Innovation,” which was either an indictment of Silicon Valley or at least an ominous warning. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 380-81

“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters” became the tagline of his venture capital firm Founders Fund. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 389-90

Compaq bought Zip2 in 1999 for $307 million. Musk made $22 million from the deal and poured almost all of it into his next venture, a start-up that would morph into PayPal. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 399-401

Musk rejected that logic by throwing $100 million into SpaceX, $70 million into Tesla, and $10 million into SolarCity. Short of building an actual money-crushing machine, Musk could not have picked a faster way to destroy his fortune. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 403-5

“My family fears that the Russians will assassinate me.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 417

Instead of hybrids, which in Musk lingo are suboptimal compromises, Tesla strives to make all-electric cars that people lust after and that push the limits of technology. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 419-20

Musk’s vision, and, of late, execution seem to combine the best of Henry Ford and John D. Rockefeller. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 427-28

During a time in which clean-tech businesses have gone bankrupt with alarming regularity, Musk has built two of the most successful clean-tech companies in the world. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 430-31

one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth around $10 billion. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 432-33

Employees at all three companies are well aware of this and well aware that they’re trying to achieve the impossible day in and day out. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 435-37

He’s less a CEO chasing riches than a general marshaling troops to secure victory. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 440

Where Mark Zuckerberg wants to help you share baby photos, Musk wants to . . . well . . . save the human race from self-imposed or accidental annihilation. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 440-41

“I would like to allocate more time to dating, though. I need to find a girlfriend. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 459-60

“I was just going to send out an e-mail. We’re fucking soft.” (A word of warning: There’s going to be a lot of “fuck” in this book. Musk adores the word, and so do most of the people in his inner circle.) -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 493-95

At the heart of this transformation are Musk’s skills as a software maker and his ability to apply them to machines. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 502-3

It’s Elon’s world, and the rest of us live in it.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 520

Haldeman died in 1974 at the age of seventy-two. He’d been doing practice landings in his plane and didn’t see a wire attached to a pair of poles. The wire caught the plane’s wheels and flipped the craft, and Haldeman broke his neck. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 611-12

Over time, Musk has ended up thinking that his brain has the equivalent of a graphics chip. It allows him to see things out in the world, replicate them in his mind, and imagine how they might change or behave when interacting with other objects. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 651-53

Elon and Justine have vowed that their children will not be allowed to meet Errol. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 728-29

Notes: 1) yikes there own grandfather

Elon and Kimbal raced dirt bikes against each other in sandlots until Kimbal flew off his bike one day and hurtled into a barbed wire fence. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 745-46

“There were four or five boys that were considered the very brightest,” said Deon Prinsloo, who sat behind Elon in some classes. “Elon was not one of them.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 781-82

I’d rather play video games, write software, and read books than try and get an A if there’s no point in getting an A. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 804-5

At seventeen, Musk left South Africa for Canada. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 807-8

(He picked Queen’s over the University of Waterloo because he felt there were more good-looking women at Queen’s.) -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 848-49

“I don’t think he makes friends easily, but he is very loyal to those he has,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 901

I’m not an investor. I like to make technologies real that I think are important for the future and useful in some sort of way.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 974-75

Musk actually said as much to one venture capitalist, informing him, “My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1093-94

He had to learn that a twenty-something-year-old shouldn’t really shoot down the plans of older, senior people and point out everything wrong with them. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1144-45

“Elon wanted to be CEO, but I said, ‘This is your first company. Let’s find an acquirer and make some money, so you can do your second, third, and fourth company.’” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1191-92

I had to think, Okay, what are the things that affect how a team functions. The first obvious assumption would be that other people will behave like you. But that’s not true. Even if they would like to behave like you, they don’t necessarily have all the assumptions or information that you have in your mind. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1205-7

“Yeah, we had some very good software engineers at Zip2, but I mean, I could code way better than them. And I’d just go in and fix their fucking code,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1210-12

“I would be frustrated waiting for their stuff, so I’m going to go and fix your code and now it runs five times faster, you idiot. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1212-13

Eventually, I realized, Okay, I might have fixed that thing but now I’ve made the person unproductive. It just wasn’t a good way to go about things.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1214-15

This left Musk searching for an industry that had tons of money and inefficiencies that he and the Internet could exploit. Musk began thinking back to his time as an intern at the Bank of Nova Scotia. His big takeaway from that job, that bankers are rich and dumb, now had the feel of a massive opportunity. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1225-28

“Money is low bandwidth,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1254

“You don’t need some sort of big infrastructure improvement to do things with it. It’s really just an entry in a database.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1255

This was not dishing out directions to a pizzeria or putting up a house listing. It was dealing with people’s finances, and there would be real repercussions if the service did not work as billed. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1261-62

It had taken Musk less than a decade to go from being a Canadian backpacker to becoming a multimillionaire at the age of twenty-seven. With his $22 million, he moved from sharing an apartment with three roommates to buying an 1,800-square-foot condo and renovating it. He also bought a $1 million McLaren F1 sports car and a small prop plane and learned to fly. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1266-69

“It was like the Internet version of making it rain at a strip club,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, an X.com engineer who went on to become the CEO of Yelp. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1365-66

“I could not believe it. I am frantically trying to call Elon, but he’s on a plane.” By the time he landed, Musk had been replaced by Thiel. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1398-99

“That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: vacations will kill you.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1511-12

With little prompting, Musk would start expounding on his desire to do something meaningful with his life—something lasting. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1560-61

they were told that SpaceX’s mission would be to emerge as the “Southwest Airlines of Space.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1749

They were building a Ferrari for every launch, when it was possible that a Honda Accord might do the trick. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1757

Justine had given birth to a son—Nevada Alexander Musk. He was ten weeks old when, just as the eBay deal was announced, he died. The Musks had tucked Nevada in for a nap and placed the boy on his back as parents are taught to do. When they returned to check on him, he was no longer breathing and had suffered from what the doctors would term a sudden infant death syndrome–related incident. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1796-99

The SpaceX employees christened the site in fitting fashion, downing a $1,200 bottle of Rémy Martin cognac out of paper cups and passing a sobriety test on the drive back to the company apartments in the Hummer. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1897-99

the trek from California to the test site became known as the Texas Cattle Haul. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1899-1900

To get to space, the Merlin engine would need to burn for 180 seconds. That seemed like an eternity for the engineers at the outset of their stint in Texas, when the engine would burn for only a half second before it conked out. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1922-24

What Musk would not tolerate were excuses or the lack of a clear plan of attack. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1932-33

I thought it was more important to let him know quickly what happened, but I learned it was more important to have all the information.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1936-37

Musk—playing under the handle Random9—often won -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1958-59

The event in Washington ended up being well received, and just a few weeks after it took place, SpaceX made another astonishing announcement. Despite not having even flown a rocket yet, SpaceX revealed plans for a second rocket. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1980-81

in a nod to Musk’s obsession with safety, the rocket was said to be able to complete its missions even if three of the five engines failed, which was a level of added reliability that had not been seen in the market in decades. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1984-85

The only way to keep up with all of this work was to do what SpaceX had promised from the beginning: operate in the spirit of a Silicon Valley start-up. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 1986-87

A friend of his worked for the phone company and drew a diagram that demonstrated a way to squeeze a networking cable safely between the electricity, cable, and phone wires on a telephone pole. At 2 A.M., an off-the-books crew showed up with a cherry picker and ran fiber to the telephone poles and then ran cables straight to the SpaceX buildings. “We did that over a weekend instead of taking months to get permits,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2001-4

“SpaceX’s mail server crashed one time, and Elon word for word said, ‘Don’t ever fucking let that happen again,’” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2012-13

“At Boeing you could be comfortable, but that wasn’t going to happen at SpaceX,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2088

Straubel concluded that majoring in physics would not be for him. The advanced courses were too theoretical, and Straubel liked to get his hands dirty. He developed his own major called energy systems and engineering. “I wanted to take software and electricity and use it to control energy,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2278-80

Straubel bought a “piece of shit Porsche” for $1,600 and turned it into an electric car. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2284-85

“People pay for cool and sexy and an amazing zero-to-sixty time,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2364

Anyone who tries to build a car company in the United States is quickly reminded that the last successful start-up in the industry was Chrysler, founded in 1925. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2373-74

The Roadsters were gorgeous, two-seater convertibles that could go from zero to 60 in about four seconds. “Until today,” Musk said at the event, “all electric cars have sucked.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2502-4

“BMW would need to have a confab between three or four companies that would all blame each other for the problem,” Tarpenning said. “We just fixed it ourselves.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2542-43

Rarely did Tesla get hung up overanalyzing a situation. The company would pick a plan of attack, and when it failed at something, it failed fast and then tried a new approach. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2554-55

Start-ups in Silicon Valley view mayhem as standard operating procedure. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2653-54

Elon has a mind that’s a bit like a calculator. If you put a number on the projector that does not make sense, he will spot it. He doesn’t miss details.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2725-26

“He would say that everything we did was a function of our burn rate and that we were burning through a hundred thousand dollars per day. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2871-73

He would place this urgency that he expected the revenue in ten years to be ten million dollars a day and that every day we were slower to achieve our goals was a day of missing out on that money.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2876-77

‘I will spend my last dollar on these companies. If we have to move into Justine’s parents’ basement, we’ll do it.’” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2886-87

The option of moving in with Justine’s parents expired on June 16, 2008, when Musk filed for divorce. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2888

I tried to make a purchase and discovered that he had cut off my credit card, which is when I also knew that he had gone ahead and filed (as it was, E did not tell me directly; he had another person do it). -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 2905-6

schadenfreude -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3104

As 2008 came to an end, Musk had run out of money. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3112

Tesla had set the prepayments that customers made for the Roadsters aside, but Musk now needed to use that money to keep the company going and soon those funds were gone, too. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3128-29

Musk feared that VantagePoint would oust him as CEO, recapitalize Tesla, and emerge as the major owner of the carmaker. It could then sell Tesla to a Detroit automaker or focus on selling electric drivetrains and battery packs instead of making cars. Such reasoning would have been quite practical from a business standpoint but did not match up with Musk’s goals for Tesla. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3152-55

By design, there’s nothing particularly flashy about the Falcon 9’s outward appearance. It’s the spaceship equivalent of an Apple laptop or a Braun kettle—an elegant, purposeful machine stripped of frivolity and waste. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3191-93

SpaceX sends a rocket up about once a month, carrying satellites for companies and nations and supplies to the International Space Station. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3217-18

Its $60 million per launch cost is much less than what Europe and Japan charge and trumps even the relative bargains offered by the Russians and Chinese, who have the added benefit of decades of sunk government investment into their space programs as well as cheap labor. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3222-24

These satellites can zoom in on Iowa and determine when cornfields are at peak yields and ready to harvest, and they can count cars in Wal-Mart parking lots throughout California to calculate shopping demand during the holiday season. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3231-32

This leaves the United States dealing with two of its least-favored nations in space matters and doing so without much leverage. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3238-39

Since getting past its near-death experience in 2008, SpaceX has been profitable and is estimated to be worth $12 billion. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3254-55

He’s hands-on to a degree that would make Hugh Hefner feel inadequate. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3257-58

He wants to lower the cost of launches to the point that it becomes economical and practical to fly thousands upon thousands of supply trips to Mars and start a colony. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3264-65

Nothing sucks the fun out of working on a spaceship like controlling it with mechanisms last seen in a 1960s laundromat. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3271-72

“The recruiting pitch was SpaceX is special forces,” she said. “If you want as hard as it gets, then great. If not, then you shouldn’t come here.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3310-11

“Elon doesn’t know about you and he hasn’t thought through whether or not something is going to hurt your feelings,” Singh said. “He just knows what the fuck he wants done. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3313-15

Just by streamlining a radio, for instance, SpaceX’s engineers have found that they can reduce the weight of the device by about 20 percent. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3378-79

Within SpaceX, Blue Origin is mockingly referred to as BO and at one point the company created an e-mail filter to detect messages with “blue” and “origin” to block the poaching. The relationship between Musk and Bezos has soured, and they no longer chat about their shared ambition of getting to Mars. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3407-9

“Every night, you had to pick the pain that you remembered least. You got so hot and exhausted. It was just amazing.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3484-85

One of my favorite things about Elon is his ability to make enormous decisions very quickly. That is still how it works today.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3510-11

I don’t want to be the person who ever has to compete with Elon. You might as well leave the business and find something else fun to do. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3537-38

Unless an acronym is approved by me, it should not enter the SpaceX glossary. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3558

Employees have since dubbed the acronym policy the ASS Rule. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3569-70

The guiding principle at SpaceX is to embrace your work and get stuff done. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3570-71

We’re trying to have a really big impact on the space industry. If the rules are such that you can’t make progress, then you have to fight the rules. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3589-90

“There is a fundamental problem with regulators. If a regulator agrees to change a rule and something bad happens, they could easily lose their career. Whereas if they change a rule and something good happens, they don’t even get a reward. So, it’s very asymmetric. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3591-93

During one incident in particular, a part made it all the way to the test stand with a major flaw—described by one engineer as the equivalent of a coffee cup not having a bottom—instead of being caught at the factory. According to observers, Bowersox argued that SpaceX should go back and investigate the process that led to the mistake and fix its root cause. Musk had already decided that he knew the basis of the problem and dismissed Bowersox after a couple of years on the job. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3601-4

Shotwell told the group. “The behemoths are going to have to figure out how to get it together and compete. And it is our job to have them die.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3668-69

SpaceX has never had any interest in doing the five-minute tourist flights to low Earth orbit like Virgin Galactic and XCOR. It does, however, have the ability to carry researchers to orbiting habitats being built by Bigelow Aerospace and to orbiting science labs being constructed by various countries. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3678-80

As Shotwell saw it, the commercial space race was coming down to SpaceX and China and that’s it. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3696-97

SpaceX had set another first, as the only private company to dock with the ISS. A couple of months later SpaceX received $440 million from NASA to keep developing Dragon so that it could transport people. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3788-90

And most mind-boggling of all, Musk revealed that the Dragon 2 will be able to land anywhere on Earth that SpaceX wants by using the SuperDraco engines and thrusters to come to a gentle stop on the ground. No more landings at sea. No more throwing spaceships away. “That is how a twenty-first-century spaceship should land,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3807-10

Musk essentially asks employees to do the impossible on top of the impossible. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3825

When you realize that the Volkswagen sign-and-drive “event” is code for “we’re making the experience of buying a car slightly less miserable than usual,” you’ll start to appreciate just how low the automotive industry has sunk. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3871-73

While some Tesla customers grumbled, Musk had largely read his customer base right. They would support just about anything he suggested. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 3958-59

“The mantra was that one great engineer will replace three medium ones,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4037

After purchasing a CLS, Tesla’s engineers tore it apart. One team had reshaped the boxy, rectangular battery pack from the Roadster and made it flat. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4042-43

To find the right size for the screen, Musk and von Holzhausen would sit in the skeleton car and hold up laptops of different sizes, placing them horizontally and vertically to see what looked best. They settled on a seventeen-inch screen in a vertical position. Drivers would tap on this screen for every task except for opening the glove box and turning on the emergency lights—jobs required by law to be performed with physical buttons. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4114-17

we first talked about the touch-screen, the guys came back and said, ‘There’s nothing like that in the automotive supply chain,’” Musk said. “I said, ‘I know. That’s because it’s never been put in a fucking car before.’” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4131-32

while reading Businessweek, he stumbled on an article about a start-up called Tesla Motors and went to the company’s website, which described Tesla as a place “where we are doing things, not talking about things.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4205-7

You don’t tell Elon you can’t do something. That will get you kicked out of the room. You need everything lined up. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4282-83

screws attaching the visor to the car were visible as well, and Musk insisted that every time he saw them it felt like tiny daggers were stabbing him in the eyes. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4295-97

“Anyone can make a car big on the outside. The trick is to make it big on the inside.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4332-33

“The typical dealer wants to sell you a car on the spot to clear inventory off his lot,” Blankenship said. “The goal here is to develop a relationship with Tesla and electric vehicles.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4426-28

“This is the first place I have worked that is going to change the world,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4431

You might end up with the car of the future or you might spend six figures on a dud with a battery pack that loses its capacity, and with no secondary buyer. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4437-38

Musk explained all of this to Page and then struck a handshake deal for Google to acquire Tesla. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4456-57

Given Tesla’s value at the time, it was thought that Google would need to pay about $6 billion for the company. As Musk, Page, and Google’s lawyers debated the parameters of an acquisition, a miracle happened. The five hundred or so people whom Musk had turned into car salesmen quickly sold a huge volume of cars. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4461-64

Tesla stunned Wall Street on May 8, 2013, by posting its first-ever profit as a public company—$11 million—on $562 million in sales. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4465-66

“Software is in many ways the heart of the new vehicle experience,” he said. “From the powertrain to the warning chimes in the car, you’re using software to create an expressive and pleasing environment. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4524-25

Tesla, for example, wanted to call its third-generation car the Model E, so that its lineup of vehicles would be the Model S, E, and X—another playful Musk gag. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4528-29

But Ford’s then CEO, Alan Mulally, blocked Tesla from using Model E, with the threat of a lawsuit. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4529-30

The dealers charge more than independent mechanics but give people the peace of mind that their car is being worked on by a specialist for a particular make of vehicle. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4568-69

Musk paid $1 million for the Lotus Esprit that Roger Moore drove underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me and wants to prove that such a vehicle can be done. “Maybe we’ll make two or three, but it wouldn’t be more than that,” Musk told the Independent newspaper. “I think the market for submarine cars is quite small.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4722-24

Who else has a roller coaster? I’m thinking about doing that with SpaceX, too. That one might be even bigger since SpaceX has like ten buildings now. It would probably be really expensive, but I like the idea of -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4757-59

I might be on there if it’s been flying for three or four years. Honestly, if I never go to space, that will be okay. The point is to maximize the probable life span of humanity.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4841-42

These mechanisms could keep the pods going at 800 mph, allowing someone to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco in about thirty minutes. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4861-62

It was more that he wanted to show people that more creative ideas were out there for things that might actually solve problems and push the state forward. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4874-75

“Elon is incredibly difficult to work for, but it’s mostly because he’s so passionate. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4903

What was clear is that people who worked for him were like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4914-15

If open-sourcing Tesla’s patents means other companies can build electric cars more easily, then that is good for mankind, and the ideas should be free. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 4967-68

Some of the conversations between Musk and Page take place at a secret apartment Google owns in downtown Palo Alto. It’s inside of one of the taller buildings in the area and offers views of the mountains surrounding the Stanford University campus. Page and Brin will take private meetings at the apartment and have their own chef on call to prepare food for guests. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5105-8

“It’s kind of our recreation, I guess,” said Page. 23 “It’s fun for the three of us to talk about kind of crazy things, and we find stuff that eventually turns out to be real. We go through hundreds or thousands of possible things before arriving at the ones that are most promising.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5113-15

The biggest battle I have is restricting their video game time because they want to play all the time. The rule is they have to read more than they play video games. They also can’t play completely stupid video -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5147-48

“There’s this point that Mike Judge makes in Idiocracy, which is like smart people, you know, should at least sustain their numbers,” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5152-53

And the fact of the matter is that I notice that a lot of really smart women have zero or one kid. You’re like, ‘Wow, that’s probably not good.’” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5157-59

“I would like to die on Mars,” he said. “Just not on impact. Ideally I’d like to go for a visit, come back for a while, and then go there when I’m like seventy or something and then just stay there. If things -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5179-80

“But we see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars.” -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5199-5200

The reason it worked was because the cost of transactions in PayPal was lower than any other system. And the reason the cost of transactions was lower is because we were able to do an increasing percentage of our transactions as ACH, or automated clearinghouse, electronic transactions, and most importantly, internal transactions. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5325-28

“Square is doing the wrong version of PayPal. The critical thing is to achieve internal transactions. This is vital because they are instant, fraud-free, and fee-free. -- Ashlee Vance, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, loc. 5331-32