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Learnings

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

I’ve been reading a lot in the media about Elon Musk and the things he’s doing at Tesla and SpaceX. However by reading this biography written by Ashlee Vance that I realized how disruptive is the things he is doing to the world, and how visionary this man is. Because Musk is not just an entrepreneur seeking to make billions of dollars with his great idea, he is a man with a vision to transform the way society has been interacting and using products and resources in the major tradicional industries.

In 2015, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in the Design Center at Volkswagen. I love to draw cars since I was a little kid, and to work in one of the greatest car companies was a dream coming true. However, work in one of the greatest industries of the last century means that you have a big tradicional structure, and in a world that is changing a lot through the advance of technology and connectivity, you have a lot of barriers to innovation. And when I talk about innovation I don’t mean how it will look like the next car model, but instead what can we do to make people have different experiences by interacting with mobility.

That’s why it’s not for nothing that people compare Musk to Steve Jobs or Tony Stark. He is redefining how things has been doing for a century in the car industry. It’s not just a more sustainable and efficient powertrain for autonomobiles that he is bringing to the market - he is bringing a whole new experience in how people interact with cars and sustainable energy, from the moment you manufacture it and buy it to the moment you interact with it and do the maintenance. Tesla models are not just cars - they are a mobile connect device on wheels. You can control all the functions through a giant screen on the panel, do the maintenance by distance through technicians that access the software of your vehicle inside Tesla and also download updates into Tesla system - this means that you can wake up the next day with your car with new features, like autopilot for example. They are expanding a whole new system of supercharges stations that Tesla owners can recharge the car for free and created a new battery for homes to store energy from solar panels. Also Elon is creating all these battery systems open source so other companies can use this technology and help accelerate society to a more sustainable mobility.

He’s also doing the same thing with Space X in the aerospace industry. His masterplan is to make human kind go to Mars. And to do so, he built this company to make rockets better and cheaper, so travels to space would be more accessible and more often. That’s why he builds 70% of the rockets inside Space X, so that they can have control of most manufacturing process and have the know-how in what part or process they can improve without depending on third party suppliers. A few months ago they were able to make a successful landing of a returnable rocket, which promises to make space travels even cheaper and more sustainable.

Musk has another company called Solar City which produces solar panels. He released a few weeks ago the masterplan behind this company and Tesla, which is to make these two companies become one to create a full ecosystem for sustainable energy.

In the book, Vance tell us the story behind all these companies and how Musk was able to build this empire. All his ambitions since he was a child, his thoughts and plans to make them come true and his incredible knowledge of engineering and management. It was one of the best readings I have done lately. 

Danilo SaitoComment