Elon Musk

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
Categories: Biography, Americas
Author: Ashlee Vance
Genre: History
Publisher: Ecco
Published: 1/24/2017
In the spirit of Steve Jobs and Moneyball, Elon Musk is both an illuminating and authorized look at the extraordinary life of one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting, unpredictable, and ambitious entrepreneurs—a real-life Tony Stark—and a fascinating exploration of the renewal of American invention and its new "makers".

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

Who is Elon Musk?

Ashlee Vance delves into that complicated question about one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs in his comprehensive biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. The 2015 biography, which was a New York Times bestseller and received critical praise from the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more, includes in-depth interviews with Elon Musk, as well as many notable figures who were close to him throughout his career.

Elon Musk has become one of the globe’s most legendary Silicon Valley technology investors and entrepreneurs. A citizen of the U.S., South Africa, and Canada, Musk is one of the richest people in the world (according to Forbes), as well as the most powerful. After earning degrees in economics and physics from the Wharton School and the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk dropped out of a Ph.D. program at Stanford to begin his career as an entrepreneur.

Musk is known for his dedication to sourcing renewable energy and space travel, as well as his passion for digital banking, paperless currencies, and the goal of colonizing other planets. He is the founder and CEO of SpaceX, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, the co-founder of PayPal, founder of the Boring Company, co-founder of Neuralink, and the co-founder and chairman of OpenAI.

Some of Vance’s key takeaways about Musk, his drive and vision, and how he grew into what he is today include:

-Painful Childhood:

Musk had a difficult childhood in South Africa, as his parents divorced and he was often bullied at school. He buried himself with books and began businesses early to escape from his troubles. He initially went to college in Canada to avoid the military before ultimately landing in the U.S. for the remainder of his career.

-Relentless Work Ethic:

If there’s one thing everyone knows about Elon Musk, it’s that he is a relentlessly hard worker. At one point, he commuted regularly across the country and even the world in a matter of days, every single week, just to be able to juggle all of his projects.


Competition with Peter Theil at X.com, now PayPal, led Musk to be ousted from the company. However, its sale for $250,000,0000 set him up for later success. He was undaunted by any of his professional rivals and used every situation to launch his next project.

-Interpersonal Troubles:

Although successful financially and professionally, Musk is known for his deep interpersonal troubles. He had six children with his first wife, Justine Wilson, only to divorce her and remarry the same woman, Talulah Riley, twice (before divorcing her for the second and final time). He is also known for being aggressive with and even psychologically abusive to his employees, especially if they put their personal lives before their jobs.

-No Ambition Too Lofty:

Musk is known for making business promises he doesn’t keep, mostly because he is not afraid to fail. He sets goals almost impossibly high in order to motivate himself to keep going. For example, he promised that one of his companies would launch successfully in just 15 months. It actually took four years, but the excitement of that first goal kept him excited about his

Final Takeaway

Elon Musk’s life is a study in ambition and madness. His goal of sourcing green energy and pushing technology forward by any means necessary is admirable, while his extreme (almost to a fault) work ethic provides an example of what one might need to sacrifice in order to get ahead in a competitive industry.


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