Ashlee Vance: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” | Talks at Google
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Ashlee Vance: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” | Talks at Google


MALE SPEAKER: Good
afternoon to everybody here in Mountain View. Thanks for coming out. And to our Googlers tuning in
at offices around the world, hello. Good day to you as well. We have a really exciting
hour ahead of us. We’re here with Ashlee
Vance, as you guys know. So Ashlee’s a
featured journalist for Bloomberg “Businessweek.” He’s written a
bunch– I think over a dozen now– feature and
cover stories for Bloomberg. And we’re here today to
talk about his new book. I think it was out in May? ASHLEE VANCE: Yep. MALE SPEAKER: OK. It’s “Elon Musk.” And so you call yourself– you
can call yourself an Elon Musk biographer now. Very exciting stuff. And is the book– I think I
read it’s a “New York Times” bestseller now? ASHLEE VANCE: It’s been
on the bestseller list just about since it
came out, 12 weeks. MALE SPEAKER: Very cool. Congratulations. And its rightfully so. It’s a fascinating read. If you haven’t
checked it out yet, I highly encourage you to do so. So we’ve got about 30 or 40
minutes of facilitated Q&A we’re going to do. And then we have
a mic in the back to pass around for audience
question-and-answer as well. So to begin, so Ashlee,
before Bloomberg, you were with “New York Times,” “The
Economist,” a few other places. How’d you get into
tech journalism? And specifically,
how did you decide to write a book about Elon? ASHLEE VANCE: Well, I guess it’s
sorts of two different things. I mean, I kind of stumbled
into tech journalism. I was a philosophy
major at college. So I had to find a
way to feed myself. And I had always
wanted to be a writer, but I’d never really
thought of being a reporter. And I had graduated
during the dot-com boom. And there were tons of jobs. I wanted to live
in San Francisco. And there were tons
of reporter jobs open for anyone who wanted to be
paid very little and work hard. So I did that. And I ended up liking it. I got thrown into covering
semiconductors and networking equipment. I was working for a trade
publication, basically, and knew nothing about
any of the stuff. So I downloaded Unix, started
learning about RISC chips, and then off I went. The Elon thing, I
mean, I guess it does sort of come out
from that a little bit. I was never the person that
covered consumer tech stuff and was never like
really into the– I mean, I was into the
web, but not– it’s just never the area that I
really wrote about a lot. I always wrote about companies
that actually made things and that had factories. And I don’t know why. That’s just kind of when
I gravitated towards. And so I was not like that
into Elon until about 2012 and I did a cover story on him. And when I saw Tesla’s
factories and SpaceX factories– especially SpaceX– I decided
that’s what I had to do. MALE SPEAKER: OK. Fair enough. So was Elon on board
from the beginning? How did that go? ASHLEE VANCE: So in 2012, I did
a “Businessweek” cover story on Elon. And we got along pretty well. I got to spend a bunch
of time with him, going through the
SpaceX factory. We went to movie premieres
and all this stuff. And the companies
were very interesting. And Elon was much
more interesting than I’d given him credit
for before the story. I’d sort of pegged him as just
like a one-note techno-utopian kind of guy. And he turned out to be
this great interview. He didn’t have PR
handlers around him. So you had access to him. And he would answer just
about anything you asked him. And so I decided
then, this is a guy I really want to write about. And I’d been looking
for a book to do. And so after I did the story,
a couple months went by. And then I started to feel
Elon out about doing a book. And I think I either
sent him an email or called him on the phone. And I said, this is
what I want to do. And he said, look,
a bunch of people have asked me in the past,
and I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to
help you do the book. And then I went to New York,
and I sold the book anyway. And I thought I would sort of
force his hand a little bit. And then I arranged
another meeting with him. And I’ll never forget. It was on a Saturday at Tesla. And I came in. I was like, look,
I’ve sold the book. And he said, I’m still not
going to cooperate with you. And so I spent 18
months interviewing hundreds of people. I found all these SpaceX and
Tesla employees, most of whom had left. All the Zip2, Paypal people
that he’d worked with, his ex-girlfriends,
his childhood friends, and all that stuff. And then a lot of those
people would call back to Elon and say, should I
speak to him or not? And he was a pretty
good sport about it. There’s nobody that
he told not to. And so I think that
happened enough times that after about 18 months
of doing it, I was at home. It was like 6:30 at
night on a weekday, and up on my caller
ID, it was Elon Musk. And I picked up the phone. And he said, look, I
can basically– this is going to go one of two ways. I can shut down all
these people that call me and ask whether I should
let them talk to you, or I could cooperate
with the book. I was like, obviously, you
should choose option b. And then we set up a
meeting to talk about it. He wanted to be able
to– he wanted to have some control over it initially. He wanted to be able to read
the book before it came out. And then he wanted to put
footnotes in the book. And if you know
anything about Elon, that would mean the footnotes
would be longer than the book and that the book would
probably never be published. And so I kind of pushed
back on him on that. I had this huge speech prepared. And I got five minutes into
it, and he just said, OK. Yeah, to his credit,
after that, he gave me access to everybody I wanted. And then he agreed to have a
meeting with me once a month, he said, for as long as it took. It ended up being
about eight months. And we would have three-,
four-, five-hour dinners. MALE SPEAKER: Wow. So the book, I have to say,
especially the beginning, it reads like a
suspense thriller, even though it’s nonfiction
because– I don’t want to give too much
away, but it opens with you kind of showing up a little
early for this meeting, sitting down with a drink,
waiting for Elon to show up, knowing full well that this is
kind of a make-or-break moment. And it goes well, like you said. I can’t believe you didn’t agree
to his two demands, by the way. They seemed reasonable, but– ASHLEE VANCE: There
was part of me that– so Elon’s got this
very unique writing style. I mean, part of me,
I thought it would be like a novelty to actually
see his thinking of some of this stuff. And there was like a moment in
time where if he had really, really pushed on that, maybe. But honestly, I could
see stuff in the book where it’s like, oh, he had a
turkey sandwich on this day. And then it would be five
pages about why he could not have had a turkey sandwich. And it had to be a ham
sandwich because he– And it was just
going to be a mess. MALE SPEAKER: Fair enough. So how does this
conversation end? You get what you want. How does it end? ASHLEE VANCE:
Well, it was weird. I mean, the dinner went on. I feel like that first one
was like two or three hours. And it was all over the place. We walked about Larry
Page a bit and AI. And then we had
these other things. It was very Elon. He’s kind of like, I’m
looking for a PR person. And they’d say, who’s the
best PR person in the world? And the conversation went
all these different ways. And then, I’d thought he agreed
to participate in the book. And then right at the end,
he’s kind of getting up. And he stood up from
the table first. And then he came back and he
put both his hands on the table. And he looked at me in the eye. And then he said, do
you think I’m insane? I’d already been through
this whole huge test. My brain is going, is this
the last sort of riddle? What does that mean? How am I supposed to
answer this question? Is this the final test to
see if he’ll cooperate? And I remember all this stuff
was going through my brain so fast while he’s still
looking at you in the eyes. And I think I just
mumbled out something about– it was like, no, I mean,
I don’t think you’re crazy. I think some of the stuff you
do could be perceived that way. But no, I mean, I’m like
at least into the companies or I wouldn’t be doing this. But ultimately I
came to just think– I don’t think anything I
said would have mattered. I think he was having
this one last gut check of whether I could
be at least quasi trusted. MALE SPEAKER: Trusted, OK. So if you said yes,
I think you’re crazy, you think he still would have– ASHLEE VANCE:
Yeah, I don’t know. I think it was a
looking into my eye to sort of see what happened. Or maybe, I also thought
he’d already made up his mind and he was just asking
himself a little bit. MALE SPEAKER: I see. I understand. So what was the process like? You mentioned about eight
months, once a month, you get together. What is it like to spend
a few hours a month interviewing Elon Musk? ASHLEE VANCE: It was really fun. At the beginning, it was
nerve-wracking because I never knew how many of
these interviews I would actually get. Even though he had
agreed to it, I always figured that he
might do one and they he’d be like, OK, that’s enough. And then I thought he might
get sick of it after a while and just cut me off. So each one felt like
an accomplishment. But then it was frustrating
because the first four, I really didn’t– I was
getting lots of useful stuff, but nothing that was– I could
tell he was still holding back a bit. And he was repeating
a lot of stories, if you watch Elon’s
speeches and other talks, that you would
have heard before. And so that was frustrating. And then I’m still not
sure exactly what happened, but around the
fourth meeting– we used to always do
the same thing. We would get there. He eats really late. So it’d be like 8:30,
9 o’clock at night. And we would go a few times
’til just everybody had left. And it was kind of
one of those things. There was like
hardly anybody there. And he just– it was like a
flip– the switch flipped. I think he had really
committed to doing it. And he became much more
relaxed and easygoing. But on the whole, it’s
like what I looked forward to every month. It was really fun. I mean, if you consider the
idea that he might actually be the first guy on
Mars, it was weird to be having dinner with this
guy over and over again, and getting to ask him
whatever you wanted. MALE SPEAKER: Very interesting. So we’ll talk a little bit
about his childhood upbringing in a moment. But something that
stuck out for me when I was reading
the beginning, you mentioned something
from his youth. I think he’s in
Canada at this point. He’s not even in college yet. I’m not sure if he is. And he’s having
a birthday party. And it’s the first time where
romance appears in the book. And he’s sitting on this
couch with a young woman. And one of the first
things he says to her is, if I didn’t have
to eat, I wouldn’t. If I could just
get rid of eating and just work all the
time, I would just do that. And I’m thinking,
this is the ’90s. This is way before
Soylent or anything. So what is it like to eat
with Elon Musk at 8:30? ASHLEE VANCE: Dinner with
Elon is an experience. It’s– MALE SPEAKER: Really? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. I’ve never been– the
actual act of eating. MALE SPEAKER: I get it. OK, how so? ASHLEE VANCE: I’ve
never seen anyone who eats as fast as Elon does. In that first meeting,
I didn’t know how long I would have him there. And so I have my
tape recorder on. And I have my computer
on the side as well. I always take notes even
though I’m recording. It helps me to remember
stuff and things. And we’re going along. We ordered appetizer. First of all, Elon
has to– it takes him a while to figure
out what he wants to eat. I think he’s used to having
a lot of this stuff taken care of for him. His assistant, when I
would be at the office, she would just bring him food. And he would just scarf it down. And didn’t even seem like
he was paying attention to what he was eating at all. And when we’d go to
these restaurants, it was like, what
do you want to eat? I don’t know. And we would never get anywhere. So I would make all
these decisions. And we ordered a
ton of appetizers. Instead of just getting one
or two, then he would be like, let’s just order
like six things. And then I’m asking questions. And he’s talking. So he’s doing most of
talking, and he’s still– they’re just like
all disappearing, one after the other. And I’m like, this is
going way too’fast. I have to have this dinner
last as long as possible. And they’re all just– I
would look down at my computer for a second and entire
things would just vanish with the plate. And then the main courses came. And the same thing
was happening again. And I knew I was
really on the clock. And so he had gotten
some sort of seafood. I think it was octopus
or squid in black ink. And then I– Oh, no,
it was lobster, fried, with black squid ink. And then I got a steak. And he’d already
finished his dinner. And I was only two questions. And so I cut off half my
steak and put it on his plate. And I thought,
this will hold him. It was like two bites. And that was gone. And then this repeated
itself over and over. I mean, I think for him
food really is just fuel. MALE SPEAKER: I see that. OK. I promise we’re going
to leave this dinner after this question. But one more thing came up. You mentioned, I think,
when we were talking before, that a few of these
dinners, rambling, all sorts of subjects,
but one thing that comes up occasionally is
Elon’s greatest mortal fear in the world. And I wonder if you’d
share that with us. ASHLEE VANCE: These days,
it’s AI and you guys, I think. I mean, it’s funny because
he’s friends with Larry. But OK, so at this
first dinner, there’s also like no small
talk with Elon. So I’m coming into
this thing, it’s like my whole life feels
like it’s on the line. I’ve made this huge
gamble on this book. And I have to convince
him to participate. So I had to have a gin
and tonic to try to settle my nerves before he got there. And then he’s sitting
down and you just say, hey, how’s it going? And before his butt
even hit the seat, he’s like– How’s it going? My greatest– He’s like, well,
I’m just consumed by this fear that Google is going
to destroy mankind. That’s like what he
says as he’s like he’s getting into the chair. And he’s friends with Larry. Elon doesn’t have– he splits
his time between LA and Silicon Valley, but he doesn’t have
a house in Silicon Valley. And so he either
stays at a hotel or he couch surfs– or villa surfs–
at this group of four people. And Larry’s one of
those four people. So he’s like a
really close friend. And so that, yeah,
it sort of threw me. I’m like, but you don’t
like sort of fundamentally think Larry’s evil. He’s like, no, no. It’s kind of the opposite. He’s kind of naively nice. And I think he
felt like Larry had a– where Elon has a cynical
take on where AI’s heading, he feels like Larry’s too
optimistic about where it’s heading. And it was funny
because this was 2012. And it felt like it was
like the early days of Elon starting just to really
become top of mind for him. And ever since then, now
he’s writing papers about it. He’s calling out
Google and stuff. So I don’t know what it’s
like when they’re at the house together. MALE SPEAKER: Fair enough. Fair enough. I understand. So for somebody who’s involved
with so many potentially world- and
humanity-changing endeavors, does Elon have a
world view or does he have a sole focus
or goal or mission? And maybe if you could
talk about where that might come from, if he has one. ASHLEE VANCE: I guess
there’s a couple levels. His driving purpose these days
is to have a colony on Mars– and not like five people,
like a million people. And I think it comes with
his very logical– he’s hyper rational. And it probably
makes more sense, I think, maybe to a lot of
people in Silicon Valley. I think to people
outside of the Valley, it’s a weird life’s goal. But I think he thinks that
something horrible could happen to the human race. And we kind of
need a backup plan. And nobody else is really
actively working on that. I mean, some people are,
but not at the scale he is. And that he’s going
to be the guy that makes this backup plan. I’ve had a couple software
developers who read the book and they’re like, yes,
I totally identify with the dude for this. And so that is like
absolutely what he wakes up in the morning wanting to do. And I think stuff like
Tesla and SolarCity, it’s kind of on the
way to this journey. And setting up this
thing, let’s try to make Earth sort of
function a little bit better along the way. MALE SPEAKER: OK, I see that. In the book, you
mention– I think it’s a quote from Elon
when he says that he read too many comic books as a kid. Do you feel like he has
that “the Earth needs to be saved” mentality? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s a couple
of bits and pieces to it. Near the end of the book,
I put forward a theory that I think he is–
there’s a clinical term that psychologists use
called profoundly gifted. And it sounds abstract
and fluffy and vague. But it’s like a
specific group of people who are obviously very, very
intelligent, off the chart IQ scale. And they tend to
exhibit similar traits. And one of them is a–
it’s like this feeling that something is wrong in the
world that needs to be fixed. And it’s like a compulsion
to want to fix it. And I think– I’m totally
convinced Elon fits into this category of people. And I also am convinced that
he read probably– I mean, he may have read every
science fiction book known to man before he was about 14. At least he was
probably getting close. MALE SPEAKER: I see. ASHLEE VANCE: And I think– MALE SPEAKER: A
few encyclopedias, too, it seemed like. ASHLEE VANCE: Right. I mean, he read out every
bookstore in his neighborhood and every library. MALE SPEAKER: Wow. ASHLEE VANCE: And
then his parents were– he would just
get encyclopedias and he would pour through those. And I think he took
that stuff– I think he took the sci-fi
stuff really– I mean, I think it resonated with him. And once he made enough
money to go pursue something like building a rocket ship,
that was right up his alley. MALE SPEAKER: I see. Very cool. So one thing that I also
enjoyed about the book is the first chapter or two,
you give this nice background on his heritage, his family. And it’s nice because
it’s not this arduous, every relative in
the family tree. But there are people there
flying in very primitive planes around the world doing things
that I knew a few people did back then, but I didn’t
realize that Elon’s family– so he’s definitely got
some interesting folks. Would you mind, I guess,
talking a little bit about how his childhood may have shaped
the person he is today? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah, sure. Yeah, well, so, just real
quick his grandfather on his mother’s side,
Joshua Halderman, he probably deserves a book
in and of his own right because he was insane. MALE SPEAKER: Absolutely. ASHLEE VANCE: He was Canadian. And just picked up his family
and moved to South Africa one day. And he used to fly his
own single-engine plane. And with his wife,
they flew– this would have been– I don’t know–
must have been in the ’50s, I want to say. They flew from South
Africa all the way up the African coast, all the way
across Asia, down to Australia. I mean, it took them–
it was like it took them a year just to get the paperwork
done to do this flight. MALE SPEAKER: Wow. ASHLEE VANCE: And
then one day, they decided to enter this car
race from South Africa to Northern Africa
in a station wagon. And they got second place,
I think, in this car race. And then every weekend,
or every other weekend, his grandfather would take
Elon’s mom and her four siblings, and they would go look
for a lost city of the Kalahari out in the bush. And they would
land their planes, and there would be lions
in the camp and everything. So he was a chiropractor. MALE SPEAKER: There’s a nice
picture, I think, in the book, as well, that shows
them with the plane. ASHLEE VANCE: With
them with the plane. Elon tried to go– he tried to
buy the plane later in life. I mean, so I think
he was definitely like a little bit
of that spirit. And Elon knew his grandfather. And then they would always
talk about these stories and, I think, this idea that
if you want to do something, just go do it, no matter
how audacious it seems. But, I mean, on the
other side, Elon was– he was a big
reader and everything. He was also kind
of a know-it-all. He didn’t have a lot
of friends growing up. Sort of his family
seemed like the only ones that really would tolerate him. And at school, I
mean, he was basically either kind of ignored by
a lot of people or bullied, and really badly. There’s one incident
that he talks about where he got kicked
down a flight of stairs, and then the guys stuck in–
got lit into them even more after that. He was in the hospital
for about a week or two. And there were a
few times like that. It was South Africa
at that time– even still today– it’s a
very masculine, macho, sort of athletic culture. And Elon didn’t play any sports. And he was like the bookish
guy off in the corner. And then it was really funny. I mean, I went back
and I interviewed– I found all these kids that
he went to grade school with. And I was really surprised. I mean, two or
three of them said he was the least likely
guy that we thought would do anything exceptional. It wasn’t that
they thought he was bad at anything or anything. It was just that he was so–
nobody thought about him. He just stayed to himself. And then he had a really
horrendous relationship with his father, which,
like in the book, he talks about having
this horrible childhood. He never– it’s kind
of unfulfilling. He never tells us exactly
what is dad did to him. And in my interviews
with him, there were times when he’d start
to well up with tears. And he would start
to talk about it. And then he would shut off. And that happened
four or five times. But I think the sum total
of all this stuff was, I mean, you can just play
armchair psychologist, and it’s like a guy who’s
out to kind of prove to the world he’s special and
can get a lot of things done and deserves our attention. MALE SPEAKER: I see. I appreciate that. I had one quote I wrote down. He says, I did not
have a good childhood. It was like misery. And going off what you
just said, would you say that the chip
on his shoulder, do you think it formed
during that time? Does he still have it? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. I definitely think so. There’s sort of two
things going on with him. He’s always this
independent spirit. He used to always want to get
to America, to Silicon Valley, in particular. He’d read about this is where
technology is happening. He got a computer at a young
age and was really into it. And the second he’s
17, he runs away from home with $100 in his
pocket and lands in Canada. And he’s backpacking
around for a year. And so he had sort of
an independent streak. But I do think any
time you tell him no, he’s going to try
to prove you wrong, that he can do something. It’s so funny because
that quote you read, not only does
any time I ask him sort of how he
got through really tough times with the companies
or in his life– I mean, he always talks
about his childhood. His wives always talk about
his childhood being horrible, all his close friends. So this is clearly
something that left this scar and this
sort of need to get past it. MALE SPEAKER: I see. ASHLEE VANCE: And I do think
he has a chip on his shoulder. We talked a little bit sort
of like Michael Jordan kind of type figure. I mean, I do think Elon’s
cut using that mold. He’s just relentless and
takes everything as a sleight. MALE SPEAKER: I see. Thank you. To move on to maybe a
little happier things, what I was struck by is, just
as a lay person [INAUDIBLE] of reading the book, you know
Elon is the guy, the Tesla guy, SolarCity, SpaceX. And you just think, how does one
man lead all these companies? And that’s cool enough. But then I’m reading about him
picking up a 350-pound sumo wrestler off the ground. I’m reading about him at his
birthday parties volunteering to have balloons placed
all over his body, especially in between his
legs, and have knife-throwers throwing knives at him. ASHLEE VANCE: These investors
were not happy with that. MALE SPEAKER: Not
happy with that, right? And the one that I love
most is this anecdote that somebody says no
to him at his company. Like, I can’t do this. And you’re fired on the spot. I’m going to take– I don’t know
if he fires him, but he says, I’m going be CEO of
my two companies, and I’m going to
be CEO of your job. And I’m going to
accomplish this. And he has a streak of doing it. And it always works out. Is this the profoundly gifted? Is he just like a super human,
I guess, is what I’m getting at. Is he really Tony Stark? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah, I mean,
I don’t– It’s kind of weird because it sounds like such
a fan boy kind of thing. I mean, and I tried to have
the book be really balanced. But it definitely
seems like he has– He’s got a stamina and a
resolve that other people, just in my experience,
do not seem to have. And it’s an intensity of will. And I thought this was total BS. Because I’d heard these
stories about you go to him and you say this
thing’s impossible, and then he does it. I mean, it just
sounds like total BS. Especially at
SpaceX, I interviewed hundreds of people
that worked at SpaceX. And many people said they
saw this exact thing happen. It was like you tell him
this thing can’t be done and he takes over the project. And he does it. And then if he does
it, you’re pretty much fired at the end of that because
you said it couldn’t be done. And I think it
takes a toll on him. When we would be at
dinner, he would sometimes come in and just have
this really haggard look, like somebody at the
end of the marathon. And he’s just sitting
there at 8 o’clock at night and has been at
the office all day. But he seems to be able to
do that for days on end. It’s really strange. MALE SPEAKER: Actually to
bring up an interesting thing. I decided not to read a
passage from the book, it’s a couple pages
long, where you talk about a typical week for Elon. And there’s also a nice–
somebody put together an image of all the flights
that he takes in a year, he took in one year. So how does a man run
multiple companies like this? He has five kids? ASHLEE VANCE: You know, five
boys, twins and triplets. MALE SPEAKER: Right. How is it possible? We struggle with the 24
hours we’re given in a day. ASHLEE VANCE: There’s all
the stuff we talked about. And then he has a
lot of help as well. But I mean, isn’t it strange? It’s a totally
abnormal existence. So more or less, it
fluctuates a little bit, but it’s kind of Monday,
Tuesday at SpaceX, coming in up here
sort of Tuesday night. And then Wednesday,
Thursday at Tesla. And then Friday back to LA. And then typically it
seemed like the weekends would be whichever
company was having the most immediate disaster. And the entire time
I was doing the book, he worked like
seven days a week. And then there’s a woman in
the book, Mary Beth Brown. If Elon is kind of
like Tony Stark, she would be his Pepper Potts. She was with him from Paypal on. She devoted her life to him. She lived in two cities just
like he did, had no boyfriend that I could discern. She didn’t ever even have
lunch or anything like that. And she handled his
personal affairs, like scheduling custody
with the kids, who was going to pick them up,
like basic things like that. And then business affairs,
she handled Elon’s PR, more or less, for the
really top-level stuff. So she was this glue that
made everything work. And then he used to
have a team of nannies. They’ve done a little
nanny reduction lately. So/ they’re down
to two or three. And then when he’s up
here, he’s got his staying at the friends and all that. Yeah, it’s a totally
crazy existences. His kids– by all accounts,
he’s a very good dad. It’s just that his kids
live a very strange life. There’s one time
we’re at a dinner. And he said, I just got back
from Monaco with the boys. We were watching the F1 races
with the prince and princess. And then his people
would tell me– because he brings the kids
to SpaceX on the weekends. So it’s like they’re so bored
of going to the rocket factory. And they’re like the
only 10-year-old boys on the planet that are bored
of going to the rocket factory. MALE SPEAKER: That’s great. That’s fantastic. Kind of on this thread, I
remember one of his employees– I think it’s a director
of one of the companies, somebody pretty high up– said,
I would be in Europe or China and send an email at 2:30
in the morning his time. Five minutes later,
I’d get an answer back. It’s unbelievable to have
support on that level. So what toll does it take
on his health and his family if he’s up that late
working seven days a week? ASHLEE VANCE: Well, you can see
he’s been married and divorced. To the second wife. He’s married, divorced, married,
divorced, and then gotten back together with again. MALE SPEAKER: I
didn’t realize that. OK. OK. ASHLEE VANCE: I think
it takes a– I don’t think he has anything
resembling a normal life. There’s another quote
in the book where he’s between wives
at the moment and he says– I was interviewing
him at his cubicle in SpaceX and he’s like, I
need a date again. He goes, how long do you
think a woman needs a week? 10 hours? Is like 10 about right? MALE SPEAKER: About the
minimum would be great? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. And then there’s another. You remind me of another thing. The guy who was talking about
when he would answer emails at any time. I mean, there’s one
time when Elon’s in bed with Tallulah
his second wife. And the team at SpaceX has
totally screwed something up. And it’s 2:00 in the morning. And he doesn’t want
to wake Tallulah up. And Elon really
lays into people. So he’s like whisper yelling
at these guys from bed. They’re all huddled
around the speaker phone taking this verbal
lashing from him. MALE SPEAKER: That’s fantastic. Did you get that story
from Tallulah, or– ASHLEE VANCE: That one– MALE SPEAKER: –from one
of the people [INAUDIBLE]. ASHLEE VANCE: That was from
this guy, Kevin Brogan, who– yeah, he was on–
So there’s also this– I don’t know if this is
common to every tech company, but at Elon’s
company, they always talk about the critical path. And so it’s the one thing
that’s blocking the companies at any point in time. And so that’s where
Elon puts his focus. And so I remember
Kevin was on– he was the guy on the critical
path at that moment. And so that meant that Elon’s
watching you 24 hours a day. MALE SPEAKER: I see. ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. MALE SPEAKER: I think that’s a
good segue into just what is he like with employees? It seemed like there
was a general sense of admiration, but
very varied stories on either side of that line. ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah,
I mean, I think Google has some of this
going for it as well and is probably among the
few companies that do. But I think there’s
like this mission that Tesla and SpaceX have that
the employees fully buy into. And it’s a little bit
different than working at another company. If you want to go
to Mars, and that’s been your dream
since you were a kid, SpaceX is the place
you go to work. If you are into electric
cars or you really care about changing the
global warming situation, you buy into that. And so there is a
sense of mission. And there’s this faith in Elon. Especially now, I think. Pre-2012, he was struggling
in a lot of ways. He has hit his stride more. And so now I think there’s this
real faith that if you– you may have to work hard. You may suffer a bit. But there’s nobody else is going
to get it done the way he is, and that these
companies are the place to do the most exciting
work in those fields. It’s kind of weird. The one thing that I
was struck by the most is that– at both Tesla and
SpaceX, there’s among the EVPs, there’s a group of people
that have been there really since both companies
have been founded. So they’ve worked
alongside Elon through thick and thin for 10 or
12 years and pretty much on a daily basis. And I don’t think he would
consider them friends. And I don’t think they
would consider him friends. I think it’s still there’s
always this line drawn for him. And I don’t know. I found that a
little bit weird just because they have been
through– both companies have almost gone
bust so many times and pulled off pretty
incredible feats. So it feels like this
amazing bonding exercise. MALE SPEAKER: Wow. ASHLEE VANCE: So yeah,
he’s always the boss. MALE SPEAKER: I understand that. OK, cool. I want to turn it over the
audience in a moment here. A couple of quick last ones. Can you tell us about the
time that Google almost acquired Tesla? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. The Model S had
come out in 2012. And it had received way
better reviews than, I think, anyone, even Elon,
would have expected. Even the Detroit
automotive press was saying this may be
the best car ever built. And you had this
whole first adopter wave of a lot of people in
California who bought the car. We’re used the early
adopters, but early adopter for something that cost
$100,000 and its door handles may or may not
work is a leap of faith. And people bought in. Their sales were fantastic. And then things
started to cool off. After you had that first wave,
there were on the Tesla forums, there were glitches
with the car, like the windshield
wipers would go weird. The door handles would go weird. The interior was not really
where a luxury car should be. And so I think a
lot of people– you have to place orders to
get in line for the car. And so people would put
down $5,000 to get line, but they were all
waiting to actually convert that to a purchase
until everything got worked out. And this was a huge
problem for Tesla. Because you’re
running a factory, it’s burning through tons of
money if it’s not being filled. And so it was
basically, I think it was the second
quarter of 2013, Elon could plot out that they’re
just going to run out of money. And he was good
friends with Larry. And I think he felt
like Larry would sort of– because the
mission of the company’s important to Elon, I think, he
felt like Larry not only would be sort of like into
buying the company, but would see it through more
than maybe some other guys. And so he turned to him
for this emergency bailout. But Elon still didn’t
trust him enough. He wanted to remain
CEO for, I think, it was five years of time
within the auspices of Google. And he wanted an
immediate guarantee for– it’s in the book,
but it’s like $3 billion, I think, of money to sort of
not only see this tough time through, but advance the
factory and everything. And then this very
Elon thing happened. He basically took
everybody in the company, whether you were
in HR or marketing or whatever you
did– an engineer– and he had everybody call
every single customer who had placed a reservation
and try to talk them into converting it into a sale. And within two weeks,
they sold so many cars, that it ended up being Tesla’s
first profitable quarter. And then the stock
price immediately, once they announced
that, it shot up. And then it became the best
performing stock of 2013. And so there was
never– not only did they have enough money
to see through the quarter, then Tesla became
so expensive that it was like– I don’t
even think Google would’ve bought it anyway. MALE SPEAKER: Understandably so. Tesla almost an
Alphabet company. ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. I mean, it’s a little tricky
because some of the stuff was sourced in the book, so
there’s only so much I can say, but this was very
close to happening. MALE SPEAKER: Wow. Fair enough. Very interesting. At this time, I’d love to
have folks in the audience also chime in with
questions as well, I think Jeremy has a mic in the back. AUDIENCE: Yeah I want to
go back to your mentioning how much of an influence comic
books and reading science fiction was for Musk. One of the things I’m
really curious about is, looking at the industries
that he’s taken on, it’s very sort of like Modernist
perspective of transportation and energy. Even the way he’s
thinking about AI, I’m curious if it’s
reflecting this ’50s, ’60s view from science fiction. And meanwhile, when you think
about like Philip K. Dick, you think about
Cyberpunk, a lot more sort of engaging with identity,
how a human identity involved, how our composition evolves
through genetic engineering. Do you see him engaging
in some of these more recent preoccupations
of science fiction? ASHLEE VANCE: I
mean, first of all, I think your point
is exactly right. I mean, that’s the
way I sort of came– your first point is the way
I came to view the companies. I mean, like the aerospace
stuff in particular is sort of depressing
outside of SpaceX. I would go to launches of
Arianespace and– I mean, these companies
do amazing things. But the equipment looks
like it’s from 1960s still. And you expect there to be
these kind of modern– you just expect it to be advanced. And it just hasn’t been. And SpaceX definitely has
put pressure on everybody to up their game on software,
all the electronics inside of the rockets, and
then more recently just with the way a
capsule should look. And Elon’s going to come
out with new spacesuits soon that he says are crazy. And so, he’s into
all that stuff. And then I think that
modernization of Tesla’s pretty obvious, like
beyond the electric car stuff, the software in the car. It’s funny because people ask
the second part of the question to me. Other times it’s like, what? When’s Elon going to cure
cancer or something like that. I don’t he– I just never
heard him really get into the biotech sort of– I’ve
never heard him even address that stuff outside of industry. It’s really funny. I mean, I think that’s kind
of where he’s locked in. Craig Venter and Elon
are pretty close. And they talk about these
biological 3D printers on Mars and where they
want to go with that. But that was the
only time I’ve ever heard him sort of even begin to
sort of veer in that direction. One of the central arguments I
try to make in the book is that Elon’s– I give you
guys credit, too, but Elon is one of our best
examples– I think the best– of combining atoms and bits. And this is obviously
going to be this huge trend that we see in the next couple
decades of– essentially what he’s done is take Silicon
Valley, just the way you run your business, more like the
way companies are run here, and then the software
ethos and sort of push that into these industries
that were not prepared yet to move at that speed
or think that way. There’s examples
in the book where if you want to put
a radio on a rocket, NASA would make you put
this $100,000 space grade radio on the rocket. And I’m sure that
was because they used to worry about the
radiation and all these things messing with the electronics. And then SpaceX was building
their own for $5,000. And they would have to fly
it up like a bunch of times and prove to them
that it still worked. Or that they could put four
of the $5,000 radios on. And so, to me, Elon
invents a lot of stuff, but he’s this great integrator
of technologies and pushing these industries forward. AUDIENCE: Thanks
for talking to us. The book is great. ASHLEE VANCE: Oh, thank you. AUDIENCE: Now that the
book has been published, what is Elon’s response? Did he get a chance
to read it before? And have you guys– are you
guys still on communication? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah,
it’s complicated. Even though he didn’t
get to make any changes, I didn’t want him to
have to buy it on Amazon and speed read through it
before anything happens. So I think it was about three
weeks before the book came out. The presses had started
and all that stuff. So I sent him a copy. And then he did this
very Elon thing. I woke up one morning,
and the first email, the timestamp was like 3:30 AM. And he had been going
through the book paragraph by paragraph. And it was sort
of like– I mean, it was all– it
was a mix of stuff. Kind of silly things like, I
don’t really eat like that. And then other things, like,
yeah, you got this right. And it was all over the place. It was actually kind of cool. He’s like there’s three
factually wrong things. And two of them were
opinions of him, which I was trying to
explain were not facts. And then the third one, he
said that Kimbal, his brother, had bought this car. They had a
cross-country road trip. And he’s like, I bought
the car, not Kimbal. I was like, OK, I’m sure we
can get to the bottom of that before the paperback comes out. And then there were a
couple nastier emails. And then a day went by. And then he came back,
and he said, you know, this is really well done. And he gave me an
accuracy rating of 95%. Which like in Elon terms, I
take that as 100% for mortals. And then basically
those three weeks passed and the book came out,
and then some of the press started grabbing– like
“The Washington Post” did this list of the juiciest quotes
or whatever from the book. And there were a couple
there, like one he said he was a samurai
and he would not fail. And then the other one was about
during Tesla’s rougher times, him giving this
employee a hard time for going to see the
birth of his child when he was supposed
to be at a big meeting. And that was weird,
when people reacted to that in a
negative way, then he reacted in a pretty
negative way. It was weird because
he’d never even commented on either of those things
when he read the book. And so then he got
[INAUDIBLE] for a little bit. And then things have been
pretty normal since then. I sort of covered
some Tesla stuff. He’s back together
with Tallulha. And she’s been quite nice to me. So I don’t know. Things are still a little
tense, but not horrible. AUDIENCE: To what
extent do you think a lot of what Musk is doing
is a reaction to a failure of our institutions? The hyper loop was,
essentially, his version of a back-of-the-envelope
drawing. I mean, gigantic white paper,
but it’s a back-of-the-envelope drawing. And you see a lot of
people comparing that. And I think his idea
was to compare it against California
high speed rail, which is this gigantic
thing which used to be emblematic
of our inability as a civilization to really
accomplish big things. And his shtick is trying
to accomplish big things. To what extent do
you do you think that he’s responding
to that, or that that’s why he seems to be so
important, that sort of thing? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah, I
think you’re spot on. I mean, I broke the
story on the hyper loop. And I sat Elon the first
time he ever talked about it. And it was exactly
what you said. I mean, it was
basically a brainstorm– He saw the California
high speed rail coming and thought it was so disastrous
and such a horrible mistake that he had to come up
with some other proposal. I don’t think– I
know for a fact, he had no intention of building
the hyper loop initially at all, and sort of–
well, it was more like a thought exercise
and just to make people see how bad the train
was and that we should be striving for something else. I think Elon,
Larry, Jeff Bezos– they’re all sort of
examples of people who have amassed enough
wealth now to do things that governments used to do and
that are proving that they can accomplish stuff on that scale. And there doesn’t seem to be a
willingness on the government side to tackle a
lot of these things. And so I guess it depends
where you are on the spectrum. If you think this is a
bunch of “Star Trek” fans who have made too much
and are charging around, going after these wild dreams,
or if you buy into the idea that this is the direction
we should head in. I mean, I think,
if nothing else, Elon’s set a good example
for believing in the spirit. Even if you just take SpaceX,
you drop the Mars thing and all that, the US used to have like
100% of the launch market. Then we went down to 0%. And we’re completely
uncompetitive on the worldwide stage. And now SpaceX is easily
the low-cost leader that has brought us back. It’s manufacturing everything
in the United States. Lockheed and Boeing
buy Russian engines to send up our spy satellites,
which obviously the government gave up if we’re doing that. So, yeah, I mean I
completely agree. I think it’s a really
interesting time to be alive when people can go
do these government-scale type things. AUDIENCE: Thanks. Love the books. And actually, I felt
like I’ve been following Elon and Tesla and
SpaceX pretty well for the last several years. And I was amazed
how much I learned and how much I enjoyed
hearing this sort of oral integrated
way you’ve talked about how the stories went on. ASHLEE VANCE: Oh, thank you. AUDIENCE: That’s unusual for
books about Silicon Valley because normally you
feel like I’m just reading what I’ve read before. This is for the people
who live outside there. But this– anyway– this
really broke through. ASHLEE VANCE: Thank you. AUDIENCE: My question was– and
this is more just your own gut opinion– a lot of the stuff
that Elon says and does, it’s hard for me to tell if he’s
being really savvy and cynical, like some of the PR stuff. Or if it’s just kind
of vanity, and he’s off the cuff and whatever. A lot of the PR feels
very spontaneous, but you’re not clear if he’s
trying to sound that way, or– I remember when I first
saw the Tesla factory, there’s this giant
Schuler press. And there was this crazy
story to get in the factory. And then he made
them take it all down and paint it red because he
didn’t like the way it looked. Is it crazy? Or is it brilliant? Or is it both? I’m just kind of curious
how you break down those kind of
decisions he makes. ASHLEE VANCE: It’s
funny that you ask that. There were times
when I would ask myself the exact same question. It’s definitely– I
think it’s a mix of both. There are these
almost like propaganda sort of things that
he does internally, but they actually do
seem to work really well. Like when you into the
Tesla factor, I mean, it’s hard not to
be enthusiastic. And this is not some
dingy car factory. This is like an exciting
place making exciting cars with all this huge massive
logos and the color. And at SpaceX, everything
is this pristine white. You could eat off the floor. And it’s like the white
counter, the white orchids, the white everything
all the way through. And so he has this sort of–
that, to me, was the most sort of Steve Jobs-ian
part about him, is he pays attention
to things like that. The other– and
then, you know, he’s also very good at–
he’s definitely outclassing in PR
terms his peers at the aerospace companies
and the automotive companies. I feel bad for them sometimes. Elon will do a Reddit AMA. And then Lockheed CEO’s like,
I’m going to do a Reddit AMA. And then every
question is about Elon. And then I remember Tesla was
having an event the same day Ford was having an event. And there were like 50
people at the Ford thing, and there were
5,000 people lined up outside of the Tesla thing
all just because Elon tweeted about I may show something. And with Elon, you never know. Is it actually
going to be a thing? Or is it just going to be
some sort of software update that we’re getting in six
months or– you don’t know. Other stuff, he’s just
totally off the cuff and I think not very
good at what he’s doing. But they have to sue the
Air Force to try and get the rights to bid on the launch
contracts for spy satellites. It was a Friday afternoon when
they announced that lately. So any other company, if
you’re going to sue potentially your largest customer,
and it’s the government, you would like do
this strategically. And what you do is call up
a reporter at “The New York Times” ahead of time
and be like, look, I’m going to give you this– I’m
going to leak you this story. And you would sort of
feed them your spin and hope the reporter does
a sympathetic SpaceX story. And you have that on the
front page on Monday morning. I’m pretty sure what
happened was that Elon who wrote the press release
himself and finished it at 3:45 on a Friday. And then five minutes later,
issued the press release. And then all his PR people
were like, oh, crap. We’re going to sue
the US government. Now let’s sort of
figure out what we’re going to say about this. And that’s, I think, probably
how that kind of thing goes. And he talks about it in
the book a little bit, like the speeches
and stuff like that. He definitely does
not do the Steve Jobs, I’m rehearsing for
days beforehand. I mean, he just gets
up there and wings it. And sometimes it works,
and sometimes it doesn’t. You definitely have to
give him credit for being the five-tooled player. I mean, to be able to do some
of the engineering, marketing, business decisions, the
fact that he actually has a hand in all that stuff
and can do it competently if not sort of
excel at it at times is like completely unusual. AUDIENCE: Hi. What was the thing
that surprised you about him the most? ASHLEE VANCE: I think
just the once he agreed to cooperate
with the book, and then we– it’s probably
about like 18 months. I mean, we had this
weird relationship. We were not friends. It was like a
business relationship of some sort of where I was
obviously on the begging end. And so he could be this
wonderful guy to deal with. And then he can be a very
hard guy to deal with. And the ups and downs and the
intensity of that and being– I definitely am
in a weird space. I have spent way
more time with them than probably like a pretty
select group of people, especially for a
journalist, way more time. And so you would start
to hear these stories and then to get like that
up close and personal, to see the intensity of
how it operates first it was like oh OK all this
stuff makes a lot of the cell and I like I’ve just never met
anyone who is just all in about every single thing he does. And it just felt when everything
was finally all said and done and the book came out, it
just felt such a relief because it had just
been this crazy process. And I mean, I feel
in retrospect, I really feel blessed
to have sort of gotten to know kind of what it’s like. And then, I don’t know. And then you hear all these
stories along that way. And you’re like, there’s
no way this could be true. And then it turns out,
I mean, most of them seem like they are kind of true. Just sort of the
larger-than-life kind of thing. MALE SPEAKER: I’ve actually
got one more question. We’ll stop after that. And then, I think, you’ll stick
around for a bit for some more. Forgive me, it’s kind
of a rambling question. But I’ve been thinking
about this since we spoke maybe a couple hours ago. And we compared Elon in
some ways to Michael Jordan. And just a quick side
thing for anybody who’s listening now
or watching later, highly recommend
going on YouTube and looking up the Hall of
Fame enshrinement speech that Michael Jordan
gave a few years ago. I forget. It was about a
20-minute long speech. He gets up there. And he gets the longest
speech at the end. And he’s going after guys like
John Stockton who he beat, defeated for years. And John Stockton goes up
there as humble, grateful. He’s there with his family. He’s at peace. Jordan’s still taking shots. He flies in the
guy who was picked over him for the
high school team just to point him
out in the audience. I think he threw
a coach out, too. So we’re making some comparisons
about this chip on the shoulder that Elon may or
may not still have. But it’s a two-part question. You’ve met with a lot
of these other CEOs. You met with Larry
for this book. Part one is how
does Elon compare to these other titans in a way? And part two, I’d
love to also ask you is, around time that speech
Jordan gave, ESPN, I think, did a cover story about how
Jordan can’t sleep at night. He has cowboy Westerns on his TV
that remind him of his father. And he needs them on all
night to be able to sleep. Do you worry or do you think
even his friends might worry that Elon someday
might be past is prime and still not
letting go, I guess? ASHLEE VANCE: I never
thought about that one. MALE SPEAKER: It’s tough. For such a– I never
would’ve thought about it either until we spoke ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. So remind me exactly what the– MALE SPEAKER: OK,
first question, how does he compare to his
contemporaries, his peers? They all are leaders just
filled with that drive? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah. Say Elon is unique
in a couple ways. I mean, one, he
is– to his credit, I mean, despite all
this stuff I’ve said, I mean, he’s surprisingly down
to earth in many, many ways. I talk about it in the book. When he comes into
the restaurant, he’s not I’m Elon coming
in the restaurant. It’s just kind of like,
I’m walking to my table. He doesn’t really expect
anyone to kind of notice him. Or he just doesn’t care. And he never had
lots of handlers or it was always just–
Elon was just, deal with me. Let’s just do this. And he was very earnest
and authentic when he was answering questions,
or at least putting a good effort forward. And then sort of the
180 part of that, though, is that intensity thing
we were talking about before. I mean, he is on a– I think
I’ve met most of the major tech CEOs. And he’s just like– he’s
just on a level of intensity beyond them, you know? I would say like the
Michael Jordan thing where we talked about it before. I mean, definitely does
not take no for an answer on a level that’s
kind of frightening. And then is just relentless. There’s a guy in the book
who says something about Elon will out-think you, out-hustle,
and there’s one other part. But it’s always the hustle part. He will do anything to win. When we were talking about
Lockheed and the other CEOs, that’s the other part where
I feel sorry for them. You’re just a guy
who’s in a job. And you’re trying to
run this company well. And there’s this maniac who’s
like, I’m going to destroy you. For him, it’s war, right? And for these other guys, you’re
a CEO running a major company. That’s perfectly acceptable. And so, yeah, I
think for him, it’s like everything is
a bit of a battle. MALE SPEAKER: I see. And the last part,
though, is do you ever think it might have
a toll some day? ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah, I think
what I talked about, too, when you could see it on his
face, that he’s clearly already has like a physical toll. There’s a weird thing
that I’ve noticed, which is that as
time has gone on and he’s done better and
better and made more money, you know the funny
thing, like SpaceX, Jeff Bezos had the luxury
of being filthy, filthy rich by the time he
started Blue Origin. He never had to turn
his space company into a for-profit enterprise. If he wants to go to Mars,
he can just go to Mars. Elon had made a lot of
money– like $200 million– from Paypal, but not enough
to make a colony on Mars. So he had to make a
for-profit space company. MALE SPEAKER: He had to hustle. ASHLEE VANCE: Yeah,
he had to hustle. And so I think as the stuff
has started to pan out for him and he’s made more money, it’s
not like it’s a relief for him. It’s like now I’m going to
announce the hyper loop. Now I’m going to announce
the space internet. It’s like it’s always growing
and growing and growing. I think there’s almost
like an addiction to doing. And I think he does enjoy
the Tony Stark sort of thing. I think he enjoys the
adoration of people. And so instead of it
being a moment to pause and just be the status
quo for a little bit, then use the money to just
advance the businesses, it’s like, no, now we’re going
to do the next crazy thing. And you see it with Tesla, too. I mean, he sort of has
to build the giga factory to get the batteries
down where he wants to get the
price of the car down. But it’s like Tesla had
just hit this point. You made the best car the
automotive industry has ever seen. And the stock price
is doing well. You’re turning a
profit sometimes. And it’s like,
OK, now we’re just going to take all the money. And then we’re going to
raise $2 billion more and bet the company on this
battery factory the minute that happened. And so he’s just relentless. MALE SPEAKER: Very cool. It’s a fascinating read. That was fascinating
conversation. Thanks so much for
being here, Ashlee. ASHLEE VANCE: Thanks
for having me. [APPLAUSE]

43 thoughts on “Ashlee Vance: “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” | Talks at Google

  1. Elon is absolutely fascinating. I have always been interested in inventiveness and people who have this vision. Likewise I have always been interested in science fiction, especially the ideas of future technology. I have already seen so many new kinds of products being offered for sale, and it is fascinating to be able to watch it come about. Elon Musk is a hero of mine, just like Nikola Tesla and others.

  2. Even though Elon is not the first person to come up with some of our currently tech…what he does get right is we want the tech and we will pay for it but we want to do it stylishly….

  3. hoho v-niceee!!! I liked this- having read the book, I totally enjoyed this talk. thanks for posting this google.
    BTW, whose the googler who is interviewing Ashlee ?

  4. What a superb interview.Great questions were posed to Ashlee Vance, which were answered very openly and honestly.
    May I also say that the interviewer did a great job.His composure and thoughtfulness certainly brought out the best in Mr Vance.
    Hats off to all concerned in the making of this no BS interview.
    Most sincerely
    JF ( UK )

  5. Ode to the current Elon paradigm. How to properly address a decepticon. He will be knighted soon enough for his COP21 bs. Anyone promoting impending doom is selling your something. In his case, carbon taxes on your breathe. I am genius. Elon is too. His hand was forced in 2008. I may have done the same. However, today he is full of it. Like a Saddam only less passionate. One should not believe the hype of those whom cater to todays media. Including Ashlee.

  6. Elon has an eye on genetics. His early areas to focus were IT, energy, space, genetics and AI.
    This interview makes Elon appear a sad human being – socially misfitted. We shouldn't expect people who do extraordinary things to live ordinary lives.
    Fortunately Elon understands heart…so he is not totally in the social woods

  7. The budget must be tight at Google, they didn't  provide  Mr. Vance a small table to put his glass of water on…

  8. I'm still reading the book, about half way through, it's incredible. He is a great writer. Very easy and interesting to read.

  9. Much has happened since the first book , which was fantastic ,by the way, ….. you have his trust , the next book / episode is due now , it will be a Best seller! …. just do it! .. 🙂

  10. Elon is a character actor. All of it, including SpaceX, is fake. Now, as absolutely nuts as this all sounds do a search on it with an open mind. We're not all crazy.

  11. I'm just here because i read the book and thought ashlee was a woman name then i saw the picture then i realize it's a man, and i watched a video about bad names then remember this and search it and here i am.

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