There’s a new interview with Tesla CEO Elon Musk out. Leaders from the Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley were invited to interview Elon Musk, and the first part of the interview is now available. The group interviewing Elon consisted of Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley Club President John, Club Vice President Kelvin Gee, Tesla Owners Club My Tesla Adventure President Eli Burton, and Ryan Levenson from The Kilowatts.
In the first part of the interview, the group covered the supply chain, why Elon chose electric vehicles, Elon’s energy storage studies at Stanford, who actually founded Tesla, the founding of Zip2, Tesla founder departures, the engineering of the original Tesla Roadster, and funding Tesla.
You can watch the video above. I’m going to dive into some key takeaways that I found interesting.
Setting The Record Straight On Who Founded Tesla
John pointed out that there was a lot of misinformation surrounding Tesla and that the interview would help set the record straight.
I personally think this is critical because I see a lot of misinformation on Twitter about Tesla. And not just on Twitter but also on TikTok.
Part of the constant stream of misinformation dictates that Elon Musk never founded Tesla. John pointed out that these critics are always trying to correct Elon on this when he speaks out about founding Tesla. John asked,
“What did it actually consist of? Because, I think a lot of people just think that someone else started it, you joined later.”
Elon agreed with John that this is actually not true and shared his thoughts.
“The reason people think that is because Eberhard has engaged in a non-stop campaign to effectively gain sole credit for Tesla for himself. And he’s the worst person I have ever worked with and that is saying something. I’ve worked with some real assholes. Okay, so, for somebody to be the worst person I have ever worked with by far, that’s not easy.
“The actual origin of Tesla goes to 2003 when I had lunch with JB in El Segundo and we got to talking about electric cars and JB said, ‘hey, have you tried the AC Propulsion tzero?'”
Elon told him no and added that they talked about battery technology and how lithium-ion batteries would finally enable a long-range car. At this point, Elon had never heard of Eberhard. He later test drove the tzero, which he thought was pretty cool. He asked AC Propulsion to make him a tzero but the company didn’t want to make another one.
The tzero, Elon pointed out, had all of the properties that Tesla later put into the Roadster. He wanted AC Propulsion to commercialize the tzero, saying that the world needed to see that it was possible to have a viable electric car
Elon said that he’d been hounding AC Propulsion to commercialize the tzero, but they wanted to, strangely, create an electric Scion. So, Elon offered to fund 10% of it if they could find the other 90% who would fund it. Elon later sent Tom Gage an email saying that if AC Propulsion doesn’t want to commercialize the tzero, then maybe they should let him do it.
“I’m going to start a company to commercialize the tzero.”
After this, Elon was was introduced to Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, and Ian Wright.
“Eberhard keeps trying to erase Ian Wright from history as well because they hate each other. But all they had was–it was just basically the plan was commercialized. They had no employees. There were no offices. There was no IP. There was no nothing. Literally nothing. There was nothing you would call a company.”
Elon added that there was an empty shell corporation that didn’t have any value. The company didn’t have any intellectual property or even designs. All it had was the general idea of commercializing the tzero, which was also his idea that he had before even meeting them.
“If I had not met them, I would have just gone and moved forward, created a company with JB, commercialized the tzero, and gone on our way. And that’s actually what happened at the end of the day. Except with a lot of grief along the way.
“After about a year, Martin Eberhard and Ian Wright could not stand each other and they made me pick which one would leave, basically. They can’t both be in the same company, so I had to pick one of them. And then I talked to JB and I was like, ‘what’s our least bad option here?’
The two decided to say goodbye to Ian Wright and keep Eberhard.
“I think the key point here is when somebody says, like, you’re invested in a company, that money that I provided was the least important thing that I provided to the company. There was no company. And if I had not met them, I would have just moved forward and created Tesla and I think it would be indistinguishable from what it is today.
“You would not be able to tell the difference. I think we could have avoided a lot of drama as well in the early days.
“If there’s one thing I could go back in time and say, I wish, I wish I had never met Martin Eberhard.”
You can watch the full video of Part 1 here.
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