Excerpts from “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping our Future” by Ashlee Vance

Ponnurangam Kumaraguru “PK”
3 min readJun 15, 2020

After finishing the book “The Everything Store”, I started reading another book, I probably completed about 40–50 pages, the book was super heavy and a lot of new terms to digest, I will write a blog on this book, if I do end up finishing it!!! So was looking for a break, and picked up this 360 pages book on Elon Musk. Thanks to Dhruv Kuchal for giving this book to me in Summer / Fall 2019. Dhruv, one of our Research Associates #classof2019 is currently a Ph.D. CS student at GaTech.

[page 9] “I [Elon] think there are probably too many smart people pursuing Internet stuff, finance, and law.”

[13] “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”

[41] Musk’s lack of interest in sports left him isolated in the midst of athletics-obsessed culture. “Honestly, there were just no signs that he was going to be a billionaire,” said Gideon Fourie, another classmate.

[65] “My [Elon] mentality is that of a samurai.”

[69] “He had to learn that a twenty-something-year-old shouldn’t really shoot down the plans of older, senior people and point out everything wrong with them. He learned to modify his behavior in certain ways. I just think he comes at the world through strategy and intellect.”

[93] History has demonstrated that while Musk’s goals can sound absurd in the moment, he certainly believes in them and when given enough time, tends to achieve them. “He always works from a different understanding of reality than the rest of us,” Ankenbrandt said. “He is just different than the rest of us.”

[103] “He’s a very smart, very driven guy with a huge ego,” Berden said. “At one point someone mentioned that he might become Time magazine’s Man of the Year, and you could see him light up. He has this belief that he is the guy who can change the world.”

[189] “There’s no such thing as well-adjusted public figure. If they were well adjusted they wouldn’t try to be a public figure.”

[218] Part of it [culture] stems from SpaceX being the apotheosis of the Cult of Musk. Employees fear Musk. They adore Musk. They give up their lives for Musk, and they usually do all of this simultaneously.

[231] “He [Elon] pees fast. It’s like a fire hose — three seconds and out. He’s authentically in a hurry.”

“I put every ounce of intellectual capital I had into that email and one minute later got that simple response,” Davis said. “Everyone in the company was having that same experience. One of my favorite things about Elon is his ability to make enormous decisions very quickly. That is still hw it works today.”

[324] To people in these [solar, space] industries Musk came of as a wide-eyed technologist who could be easily dismissed and ridiculed and who, as a competitor, fell somewhere on the spectrum between annoying and full of shit.

[326] Musk paid $1 Million for the Lotus Esprit that Roger Moore drove underwater in The Spy Who Lover Me and wants to prove that such a vehicle can be done. “Maybe we’ll make two or three, but it wouldn’t be more than that,” Musk told the Independent newspaper. “I think the market for submarine cars is quite small.”

[335] “I would like to go, but I don’t have to go. The point is not about me [Elon] visiting Mars but about enabling large number of people to got to the planet.”

[335] “I think there are ways he has dramatically improved over time,” said Thiel. Most impressive to Thiel has been Musk’s ability to find bright, ambitious people and lure them to his companies. “He has the most talented people in the aerospace industry working for him, and the same case can be made for Tesla, where if you’re a talented mechanical engineer who likes building cars, then you’re going to Tesla because it’s probably the only company in the U.S. where you can do interesting new things.”

[339] “Elon is incredibly difficult to work for, but it’s mostly because he’s so passionate. He can be impatient and say, ‘God damn it! This is what we have to do!”



Ponnurangam Kumaraguru “PK”

#ProfGiri CS #DeanGiri Student Affairs @IIITDelhi TEDx & @TheOfficialACM Distinguished speaker. Alumni @CarnegieMellon @SCSatCMU @bitspilaniindia