If you haven’t see the part one of the Elon Musk interview with the Third Row team yet, I highly recommend it. That said, I know it is challenging to find 2 and a quarter hours to dedicate to listen to it, so I summarized the content of the podcast/video for you so that you can easily jump to sections that most interest you! This might also be useful for you later on if you want to share a specific segment of the interview with someone.
0:00 — Introduction of the Third Row Crew
1:40 — Why Elon interacts with “regular people” on Twitter. Short answer is: it’s a fun way to get the message out.
3:30 — Why Twitter? He doesn’t trust Facebook.
6:50 — Elon explains his current wealth is a billion in debt and then Tesla and SpaceX stock.
9:00 — Capitalism vs Communism? Whichever has a better feedback loop from the population’s happiness to allocation of resources. A government monopoly doesn’t do a good job of that.
11:00 — Automakers tricked government regulators into subsidizing fuel cells. Discusses the candlelight vigil for GM’s EV1.
12:00 — Oligopoly in candy. Only 3 makers worldwide make all the candy and dog food.
13:45 — Car industry pretty competitive.
14:00 — At Gene Wilder’s old house with Solar Roof V3.
16:00 — Solar, EVs, and insulation best ways to make a difference.
17:00 — Did you always know you wanted to start a business? Elon: I thought I would be working at a particle accelerator, but didn’t want to be dependent on government funding. (paraphrased)
19:00 — Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a great book on philosophy. He decided that sustainable energy and making life multi-planetary were the best ways to extend human consciousness.
20:20 — 5 things that change everything!
#1 The Internet is like the nervous system of the world
#3 Changing genetics using CRISPR
#4 Artificial Intelligence
#5 Sustainable energy — originally, he favored this because he thought we would run out of fossil fuels. Later he realized the damage we are doing by burning fossil fuels and that we need to move even before we run out.
26:20 — Since you were rich in 2002, why start SpaceX and Tesla? Elon said he started along this route by working on capacitors for EVs. He was trying to use semiconductor equipment to make really precise capacitors like an x86 chip, riding on the coattails of massive investment in that space. Turned out this was unnecessary since lithium batteries have advanced so much.
30:30 — Maxwell is a big deal. Elon hints at cost reductions coming, which will be explained at the coming battery day in a few months.
32:00 — Other car companies are not making batteries, modules, or packs.
33:00 — Can’t believe we haven’t converted all cars to EVs nor gone back to the moon yet.
34:30 — Big companies resist change, only change 5% at the most.
35:30 — China Gigafactory for 3 reasons:
#1 China is world’s largest market
#3 Local talent
36:40 — How did Tesla become the first wholly owned foreign car manufacturer in China? Elon says they talked them into changing the law.
38:30 — Why is Gigafactory 3 so cheap to build?
#1 Tesla is way less dumb.
#2 Suppliers are more efficient.
#3 Hundreds of little things.
#4 Model 3 body line is much simpler.
41:30 — Personal life stuff, and Elon denied firing people without justification.
43:30 — Why America? Because that’s where technology was advancing.
45:00 — He lost all his clothing on a bus trip across Canada. Worked on a wheat farm for 6 weeks.
47:00 — Lumber mill job was hardest job he ever had. Was the highest paying job at the employment office — $18 hours. He did it for 4 days and task was done.
49:00 — A few months as a lumberjack, then went to Queen’s University for a couple years, then University of Pennsylvania, where he got a degree in physics and economics.
51:00 — Internet was about to take off, so he deferred his graduate degree and wrote Zip2.
52:00 — Only 1 computer for server and compiling code, so server would go down when he did a recompile. He lived in his office and showered at the YMCA.
53:00 — Silicon Valley/Sand Hill very skeptical of investing in software until Netscape.
53:45 — Couldn’t get a job at Netscape.
55:00 — Got $3 million for 60% of Zip2, which he thought was great money!
58:00 — “Yahoo seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut.”
58:30 — Kimball Musk arrived.
59:40 — Developed vector-based mapping software.
1:01:00 — Got first door-to-door directions from the internet using Java applets at age 22 and 23.
1:03:40 — How did you become expert coder? He had been coding since the age of 12.
1:06:00 — More discussion of living cheaply when they had no money and were developing Zip2.
1:07:00 — Eating at Jack-In-The-Box.
1:08:30 — “We were just trying to be able to stay in the country.”
1:10:00 — They had an old BMW 3 Series and drove it until a wheel fell off.
1:11:00 — Kimbal admits to being in the US illegally. Elon admits he was working while on a student visa.
1:13:00 — How Kimbal tricked the border patrol.
1:15:05 — “Yellow Pages will never die!” Kimbal thinks, “In my head, you are already dead.”
1:16:50 — Paypal
1:18:20 — At Zip2, we tried to partner with the existing industry, but they were too arrogant to listen to us.
1:21:00 — Why do Paypal? Wanted to do something on Internet that showed how technology can change the world but which didn’t take much bandwidth (since people are still using modems).
1:23:00 — Paypal should have continued to work on all financial things, but that is “water under the bridge.”
1:24:00 — Paypal had a dream team of talent that went on to do many great things as they started a bunch of companies.
1:25:00 — X.com and Confinity joined to form Paypal and raised $100 million one month before the dotcom bust of April 2000.
1:27:00 — How Paypal could have sucked all the money out of the world’s banks.
1:28:00 — Why did you leave PayPal? Elon wanted to take more risk than others were comfortable with.
1:30:00 — How do you find the courage to buck the system? “I try to be hyper rational.”
1:32:40 — Stripe is eating banking slowly.
1:33:00 — He is neutral on Bitcoin.
1:34:40 — It’s getting harder to use cash.
1:35:30 — “I think governments have too many laws.”
1:37:00 — Thinks direct democracy is less likely to become corrupt than a representative democracy.
1:38:30 — Laws are written by the industry groups that capture the government.
1:39:40 — Elon got malaria after a trip to South Africa and almost died.
1:43:00 — Why NASA wasn’t planning on going to Mars.
1:44:20 — The SpaceX idea was originally to sponsor philanthropic mission to Mars to put a small greenhouse on Mars.
1:45:30 — He went to Russia to buy ICBMs.
1:47:00 — Russians kept raising the price. “This is the pre-deal shafting.”
1:48:00 — Realized rockets have to be reusable to be cheap enough to build a city on Mars.
1:49:20 — Most of the rocket engineers were in LA, so he moved to LA.
1:50:30 — Couldn’t recruit people to SpaceX for a long time from Boeing or Lockheed, so he became chief engineer.
1:55:00 — Discusses the first launch failure.
1:57:00 — 2008 was a very difficult year since they had the 3rd launch failure, a round of Tesla financing collapsed, and he got divorced, but 2018 was worse.
1:59:00 — Elon describes the lunch where he was introduced to AC propulsion (which led to Tesla).
2:02:00 — He knew EVs could work with the increase in density that came with the 4× improvement that lithium-ion batteries offered over lead-acid batteries.
2:05:10 — “Eberhard is the worst guy I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some real douchebags.”
2:07:40 — Making of the Roadster.
2:09:30 — The costs of the Roadster were twice what they said there were. He had to fire Eberhard.
2:11:40 — Elon tried really hard to not be CEO of Tesla (because he was busy with SpaceX).
2:14:00 — Spent $75,000 to buy the trademark of “Tesla Motors.” They then spent 10 years and $10 million to get Tesla.com.
2:15:50 — “He spent a lot of time on the Tesla and SpaceX fonts.”
I found Elon’s views on government most interesting, since I had heard many of the other stories before. Overall, there are many nuggets of info in this interview for fans and haters of Elon Musk alike.
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