April 6, 2020
Third Row Tesla Podcast – Elon’s Story – Part 1

Third Row Tesla Podcast – Elon’s Story – Part 1


welcome to the thermo Tesla podcast my
name’s Sathyan for ball and today we have a very special guest but before I
introduce our special guest I’m gonna go through and introduce our crew so our
regular throat elsewhat podcaster crew so today we have omar Kazi hustle truth
boom and we have Kristen hey k10 thank you and we got Vincent you from Tess
main Ian hi all right great and then we got Galileo Russell from
hyper change what up third row and that we got viv
who’s falcon heavy okay okay all right Omar you want to introduce our guest
please welcome the inventor of the car fart I replied I’m like why don’t you come on
a podcast and like tell your until my fictionalized version I was kind of like
taken by surprise by that and you know the way you engage and listen to your
customers online it’s like I’ve never seen anything like that from you know
CEO of a public company or any exactly so can you tell us a little bit where
that came from why you communicate directly instead of like having this a
PR strategy that most companies have sure well I mean it started out I
actually had one of the very very first Twitter accounts like when it was like
less than 10,000 people and then in orders tweeting at me like what kind of
latte they had at Starbucks and like if this seems like the silliest thing ever
so I deleted my Twitter account and then someone else took it over so I’m
tweeting in my name yeah and then a couple of friends of mine well Lee and
Jason Calacanis they’ve uh said hey you should really
use Twitter to get your message out and also some somebody’s tweeting in your
name and they’re saying crazy things so I’ll say crazy things in my name did you
have to pay them no no they they they I’m not sure who it was but it was some
reason I got my account back and and and then I was just I don’t know it’s some
agree it’s like it just sort of I just start tweeting for fun really and my my
belly tweets were quite crazy as I was trying to explain like it has the arc of
insanity is short we met it’s not very steep because it started off insane and
so if it’s still insane it’s you know hasn’t changed that much so yeah and I
don’t know I it’s it’s in kind of fun too
you know it does I think I said this before it’s like you know so we will use
their hair to express myself I use Twitter well I can untrust Facebook you
know and and and then Instagram is is fine but it’s I think not exactly my
style it’s hard to convey a intellectual arguments on Instagram I don’t know it’s
hard on Twitter too but it’s but you can’t you know it’s so Instagram is also
known by Facebook’s and I was like yeah deleted yeah yeah
just leave it okay it’s like I don’t really need to just if I need to say
something I don’t really need said on one platform pretty much and that’s an
answer if I’m trying to and I don’t spend too much time in social media so
which was like hey I’ll if you’ll want to know what I’m saying then they can
just sort of go to Twitter and I’ll keep doing that as long as Twitter is good I
suppose more good than bad yeah your crypto scammers are really oh I
understand they’ve been taking advantage of Vincent recently I know really yeah
it’s like 10 Vincent’s out everything it just like change one you have to use my
avatars and then the picture and then they just post like right below yeah
you’re tweaked yeah yeah I’ll say Wow and they blocked me too we fight them
all the time we’re always like reporting them like every day we were reported
like every day people yeah I have so many like yeah exactly the conversations
Twitter like come on can you just like I think it would take
like three or four customer service people to just look look at this it’s
crypto scam block it and it should be easy but then like my wife vegan Shelley
I think you’d like to equate the other day she got banned for like replying to
one of your tweets and quoting like the video inside of it and that she got
suspended for like a day or something I was like what the heck is going on yeah
so it’s just weird how the algorithm works yeah yeah there’s a lot of
manipulation but you’re going back to the Wikipedia page you know it’s kind of
interesting just sure what a decade you’ve had I remember I was reading
somebody’s article I think they interviewed you in 2009 or something
like that and they said you know if you’d met you on musk in 2009 right
after the recession they’re like struggling with the Roadster you know
you never would have thought that you are where you are today you’re you know
launching astronauts into space doing well hope yeah this year you know
servicing the International Space Station I mean
Tesla with the model 3 the model y you know electrification really without
Tesla it would not be where it is today you see where the other legacy
automakers are they’re not doing great so you know looking at kind of like this
like you’ve become this legendary figure and looking at kind of like how people
kind of see you kind of the Ashley Vance biography your Wikipedia page what is it
that really kind of sticks out to you or you know makes you laugh like that’s
just completely off-base yeah well I think I mentioned that the that I kept
in referred to as an investor in like that much things in a psychic but I
actually don’t invest really except in companies that I helped create so I only
have they’re only publicly traded share that I have at oles Tesla I have no
diversity on publicly traded shares yeah and yeah that’s right quite unusual so
you know almost everyone you diversify so degree and then the only stock that I
have of significance outside Tesla SpaceX which is privately it was
probably a private corporation and and then in order to get liquidity which is
mostly to reinvest in SpaceX and Tesla and occasionally in like provide funding
for much more projects like your link and boring company then I’ll actually
take out loans against the Tesla and SpaceX talk so the so what so what I
actually have is is whatever might has list at SpaceX talk is and then there’s
but a billion dollars of debt against that so would which you know it’s it’s
that this is sort of taken to apply that I’m claiming that I have no money which
I’m not claiming but is it somebody make it clear that
you’ll see some like number them some big number in like four four something
people think I have the Tesla’s basic stock and I have the cash and I’m being
somehow I’m just sitting on the cash I shouldn’t doing nothing with it and like
hoarding resources like no it’s you know the only alternative would be to say
okay let’s give the stock to the government or something and then the gum
would be running things and the government it just is not good at
running things that’s the main thing it feels like like a fundamental sort of
question of like consumption versus capital allocation that was probably get
me into trouble but you know the the the paradigm of say communism versus
capitalism I think is fundamentally sort of orthogonal to the reality of of
actual economics in ending life in some ways so what you’re actually care about
is like the responsiveness of the feedback loops to the maximizing
happiness the population and if if more resources are controlled by entities
that have poor response in their feedback loops so if it’s like a
monopoly corporation or a small oligopoly or in the limit I would take
the monopolistic corporation in the limit is the government so you know it’s
just it’s it’s this is not to see if people work at the governor bad if the
same people are taking put in a better sort of operating system the situation
that outcome will be much better so it’s really just what is the responsiveness
of the organization to maximizing the happiness of the people and and so you
want to have a competitive situation where it’s truly competitive where
companies aren’t gaming the system and and then where the rules are set
correctly and and then you need to be on the alert for regulatory capture where
the the referees are fact captured by the players which is
you know and the player should not control the referees essentially it was
like which was gonna happen you know I think like that happened for example
with I think visitor efficient vehicle mandate in in California where
California was like really strict on EVs and then they the car companies managed
to sort of frankly in my view trick the regulator’s into saying okay you don’t
you don’t need to be so hardcore about the EVs and instead you say save fuel
cells of the future but fuel cells of course many years away so forever this
is citizen that they let up the rules and then you know GM recalled the ev1
and crushed him in it exactly yeah a junkyard against the wishes the owner
they all lined up to buy them and they wouldn’t let him buy it I mean Chris
painted this great documentary on it and it’s like the you know the owners of the
the eb1 which while there wasn’t actually that great of a car but they
still wanted they like a car so bad that they held a candlelit vigil at the
junkyard where they were cosmic crushed it like it like it was like a like a
prisoner being executed or something like that
that was literally and like when is the last time you even heard of that for a
product you know GM is stops product I mean know what I mean
listen man they don’t doing that for any other GM product thank you have you
thought about taking the ev2 it’s hard to get really good you know so I think
that’s a very important thing so generally where you could see like
these all I got police performing or do I please the and then you get effective
price-fixing and then they they cut back an R&D budget like it kind of a silly
one frankly it’s like it like candy like there’s a candy oligopoly and it’s like
when’s the we don’t see much innovation in candy so you’re still working on the
candy company can be boring I haven’t seen a candy the
other that’s that you’re good enough to send out but and it’s yeah but I think I
think it it’s it’s there’s like three companies or something that control all
the candy in the world pretty much and dog food yeah there’s somebody
constructed like this it’s this crazy conglomerate and and it’s like and it’s
like dog food and baby food and candy and it’s like old you know yeah hunter
so friends yeah you think you’re buying for different companies but they’re all
funnels up to like three companies don’t send the rendering food to the candy
company candy so if you want to have like a good competitive forcing function
so that you have to make the product better or or you lose like you can I
make the park better and and and improve the product for the end consumer then
then that company should have literally less prosperity compared to company it
makes better products now another car industry you know it is
actually pretty competitive so that’s good and then the good thing about a
competitive industries then if you make a product that’s better it’s gonna do
better in the marketplace so this is Gene Wilder’s old house that’s got a
solar glass roof yeah yeah yeah we saw it at the store in Torrance actually
they’ve got in the stores now looks really good
well the night that it’s in actually designed such that you don’t notice it
so he’s like this like it’s all hot this is like it’s an old house and I probably
fifty years old so my god and it’s quite quirky so if you put something on that
was like it didn’t blend in that it would it would not look right it would
be pretty strident and this had a black comp shingle roof so I
was like okay let’s see if we can actually have it would weave in and
still feel natural look good and and I think it’s it’s sort of achieve that
goal but yeah there this is a lovely quickie little house I’ll show you
around afterwards the skittles was the weird things it’s exactly what is it
Frank Lloyd no I don’t think so I think it was just built in increments over
time by probably several people but then there they would have just knocked it
down and built a giant house here so it’s like so glad I didn’t yeah it’s
super cool so jinhua was one of my favorite actors actually so he’s great
what was the movies so so when you come up with a product like the solar glass
roof I think a lot of people misunderstand that like your goal is to
bring these crazy technologies to market and really create a change in the world
and so I think it’s fascinating that you do it through companies and it seems
like the fastest way to create that feedback loop and to really like get go
from inventing something to millions of people using it right away so lately it
seems like buying a test look is almost like the best thing you could do to help
the climate crisis because you’re like turbocharging R&D and products and
innovation I feel like not enough people really understand that yeah that is I
think there’s lots of good things people can do for the climate but just
generally anything that is moving towards sustainable energy whether it’s
sustainable energy create a generation through solar or with an electric
vehicle actually just that just things like better insulation in a house just
is just really effective for energy consumption but but fun of energies more
finesse a synchrony that’s Marvin the Martian I
actually got him a little following a little message of love in the Martian
cavity yeah you know the helmet with me I look super cute so did you always know
like you know business was the way you wanted to kind of attract attack these
problems versus say you know maybe a non-profit or you know working as a
college professor or something I don’t know
well when I was in high school I thought I’d most likely be doing physics at a
particle accelerator so that’s where as physics and computers I mean I got
distinctions in two areas in physics and computer science and those were yeah so
my two best subjects and I and then I thought okay well but I want to forget
what’s the nature of the universe and so you know go try to working with people
banging particles together see what happens and and then it sort of things
went along in the the superconducting supercollider got cancelled in the US
and that actually was like whoa you know what if I I’m working at a Collider
there’s been all these years and then the gum it just cancels it Wow and then
that would was like I’m not gonna do that so so I was like well roll back a
little like I forgot we’re gonna scan I had like this existential crisis and I
was about 12 years old or something and and I was like what does the world mean
wait what’s the role that he’s living some meaningless existence and then I
met I made the mistake of reading Nietzsche and Schopenhauer and they’re
like well don’t do that not it is not a to not
need to be a little older I think net not read actually lately these days I so
really you know it’s actually is another bad waiter he’s he’s got issues got
issues no question about it but but you know it’s you know so but there are the
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the galaxy Douglas Adams shoes which is like quite a really
quite a good book on philosophy I think and I was like okay we don’t really know
what the answer is obviously so but the universe the
universe is the answer and that really what are the questions we should be
asking to better understand the nature of the universe and so then to the
degree that we expand the scope and scale of consciousness then we’ll better
be able to answer that ask the questions and understand the why we’re here or
what it’s all about and so we should sort of take the set of actions that are
most likely to result in us understanding of what questions to ask
about the nature of the universe so the so therefore we’re almost
propagate human civilization on earth as far into the future as possible and
become a multi-planet species to again extend the scope and scale of
consciousness and increase their probable lifespan of consciousness which
it’s gonna be I think probably a lot of machine consciousness as well in the
future and that’s the best we can do basically you know and yeah that’s best
we do so in thinking about the various problems that we’re facing or what would
most likely change the future the when they were in college there were
five things that I thought would be I thought these were actually the I would
not regard this as a profound insight but rather an obvious one the you know
the internet would fundamentally change humanity because it’s it’s like humanity
we become more of a super organism because the Internet is like the nerve
it like a nervous system now suddenly any part of the human
humanism anywhere would have access to all the information made instantly
neuro-link hey what imagine if you didn’t have a nervous system
you wouldn’t know what’s going or fingers wouldn’t know what’s going on or
your toes one knows what’s going on you’d have to do it by diffusion and
yeah the way information used to work was really by diffusion one human would
have to call another human or write them yes like it was in a letter oh you would
have tried let you’d have to have that letter to another human that would be
carried through a bunch of things plain little person would give it to you
extremely slow diffusion and if you wanted access to books if you were not
did not have a library you’re not you don’t have it that’s it so now you have
access to all the books instantly and you if you can be in a remote like you
know mountaintop drunkle location or something and have access to all of
humanity’s information you’ve got a link to the internet this was a fundamental
profound change so that’s one thing I was on the internet early because of you
know in the physics community that was pretty normal
although I was interface was you know almost entirely text and hard to use but
that and another one via of making life multiplanetary making consciousness
multiplanetary the changing human genetics obviously I’m not doing by the
way I there’s a thorny subject but it would it is being done with CRISPR and
others you know it would it will it will become normal to to I think to change
the human genome like what’s the opportunity that’s inevitable or
well you know I think for sure as far as say getting rid of diseases or
propensity to various diseases then you know that that’s gonna be like the first
thing that you’d want to add it out you know it’s like if you’ve got like your
you know the situation where you’re definitely
going to die of some kind of cancer or at age
five prefer to have that edited out yeah definitely so I think unit that out you
know there’s I think the Gattaca sort of a extreme thing where it’s not really
edited out but it’s like it’s edited in for various enhancements and that kind
of thing I which probably will come to but I was saying you know argue for or
against that I’m just saying this they’re more likely to come to not at
down the road yeah so then and then AI we’re a really major one so these are
all big motivational factors like yeah keep our consciousness going oh and end
it’s a sustained sustainable yes yeah sustainable energy so sustainable
energy actually was something that I thought was important before the vytal
environmental implications became as obvious as they they are something
because if you mind and burn hydrocarbons then you’re gonna run out
of them because you it’s it’s not like it’s not like buying a mining sort of
say metals for example if you if you know that we recycle steel and aluminum
and because that’s just it’s it’s not a change of energy state whereas if you if
you take fossil fuels you’re taking some from a high energy state converting it
to a lower energy state like co2 which is extremely stable you know so whereas
and we will never run out of metals not a problem we will run out of mind
hydrocarbons and then necessarily if we have got billions ultimately trillions
of tons of hydrocarbons that were buried deep underground in solid liquid gas
form whatever but they’re deep underground you say you shall remove
them from deep underground to the oceans the atmosphere you will have a change in
the chemistry of the of the surface obviously and then there’s just a sudden
probably associated with well how bad will that be and the range of
possibilities goes from wildly bad to extremely bad but then why would you run
that experiment that seems like the craziest experiment ever especially
since we have to go to sustainable energy anyway
why would you run that experiment this is the maddest thing I’ve ever heard
I’m not saying there shouldn’t be some use of hydrocarbons on earth but there
just should be the cover of the correct price play place on co2 production and
and the obvious thing to do is have us here is a carbon tax it’s a no-brainer
every I don’t know the 90 plus percent of economists would say this that I
think of physicists and it’s just the you know the market system works well if
you’ve got for the right price and things it’s very very simple and if
you’ve got a price of zero effectively oh very low then it’s well people obeyed
accordingly so so just that’s that’s the thing that needs to get done I think it
will get done and and then the the if our time is you raise the price on our
table and you can actually I think encourage of sequestration technologies
over time and there’ll be a lot of innovation in that regard and know
that’s the right way to do it yeah so you had these realizations about you
know areas of big value and you went and started
zip2 you sold it got you know 20 million cash you were the largest shareholder of
PayPal at the time eBay acquired it I think you know you got 160 million or
something like that I you know you have enough money basically for an entire
lifetime why go and put your money into space X which is a huge you know risky
operation or Tesla why not just kind of you know relax sure what so yeah
basically you know I I graduated from from from Penn basically physics and
economics and then that reacted a road trip to to Stanford with with Robin Ryan
who is in my physics class and now works at Tesla actually
yeah you grew up in Shanghai yeah so yeah yeah this was a very smart guy he
ended up continuing at Stanford and I ended up going on deferment a couple
days into the semester but I was gonna be studying material science and the
physics of high energy density capacitors for use in electric vehicles
so the intent was I was gonna okay I’m gonna work on energy storage solutions
for electric vehicles and I’d worked at a company at Cold pinnacle research for
a couple summers that did high high energy density capacitors I was gonna
try to do a factory like a solid-state version of of what they were doing with that yeah it’s gonna get very
complicated from a technical standpoint but they were using a routine at the
ruthenium tantalum oxide lithium is extremely rare and expensive it cannot
scale that so like can you find a substitute for ruthenium but we were
able to get to energy density is comparable to let us a battery but with
incredibly high power density so I could not go down a deep rabbit hole there but
what’s the purpose that’s a good capacitor in an emulsion Buster no I
think with the advent of high energy lithium-ion batteries a capacitor is not
not the right path was your thinking back then though that made you think it
could be useful for v’s I want to use advanced chip making equipment to make
capacitors that were precise at a molecular level so at the you know just
a level of precision that was sort of unheard of in in capacitors like
capacitors energy is a function of its area over and a separation distance so
if you have if you could have very tiny separation distance and you can and you
can have it quantum tunneling it likes it how do things get pretty esotery so
you got to inherit quantity’ tunneling give very short gap and and then you in
theory get to very high energy densities you by making capacitors in the way that
you would make a an x86 processor and since there’s the
tens of billions of dollars going into chip-making rd that i thought there
might be a way to make an advanced capacitor using chip making equipment
instead of the conventional means so was it off the table it’s unnecessary
okay it’s unnecessary it’s it’s it I think I think it’s it thinks probably is
physically possible but it’s it’s unnecessary at this point I mean I know
a lot of people were talking about Maxwell and they had been working on
some stuff with capacitors the funny thing is that when I was doing the my
internships at this advanced capacitor company called pickle research which was
in Los Gatos we talked a lot about Maxwell and Maxwell was also trying to
make high-intensity capacitors now Tesla acquired Maxwell it’s kind of a
big deal Maxwell has a bunch of technologies that are that that where if
they’re applied in the right way I think can be have a very big impact like the
dry electrode stuff that we one of them that’s a big deal yeah for sure much
much bigger deal that may seem yeah and there’s a few other things but with with
the the space that takes up for the ovens that you know for the current
technology you can save all that that real estate space now that’s one aspect
and the cost reduction the weight savings I mean there’s so many pluses
right yes there’s many things that but I’ll have to wait until you know
whatever battery day you know hopeful in a few months but I think we’ve got some
pretty exciting things to show so Galle is very excited yeah it seems that the
battery thing is just taken off like since you got some more capital and
being able to like have the gigafactory be vertically integrated just seems like
no other car companies making that many batteries so they’re not even thinking
about what comes next but hey you know man it’s high can 200 one month yeah no
it’s really it’s true I the other countries just really when I outsource
battery type technology no even not even making the that this battery module and
cell but they’re they’re obviously outs hosting the sales but even outsourcing
the modules in the packs you know and and it’s like they’re really not
thinking about fundamental chemistry improvements and so it I should say a
bit about like like electric vehicles and and and it’s all sustainable energy
in general you know I said it was free I think obvious to not just meat to me
ever to a lot of people even go back 30 years or longer that we must have a
sustainable energy solution in fact it’s total logical if it’s if it’s if it’s
not sustainable we must at some point find an alternative to it and so even if
there were no environmental impact to the sort of a fossil fuel economy then
it would run out of them and then we would have economic collapse and
civilization fall apart so so that that was actually my initial motivation for
electric vehicles it’s like okay we’re gonna have a solution that does not
require mining high development that that is sustainable in the long term it
was not actually initially from an environmental standpoint because I don’t
realize the gravity of environmental situation at that time and I thought
actually for sure by now we have electric cars yeah yeah totally why are
we not back in there it’s insane if you saw something in 69 that yeah that we’re
not a be back on the moon and in like 2020 there’d be like you probably might
even punched honestly is that be like you’re just it’s a it’s like in so
insolently rude to if you’re wrong with you it’s encouraging though yeah yeah
yeah so so we have a zero base on the moon which I’ve sent people to Mars
no no that’s occurred you know it’s good we make that happen yeah so but on the
sustainability find it was really like said it not somewhat initially not so
much from an environmental standpoint but from a necessity of how replacing a
finite resource in order to ensure that civilization could continue to grow and
then the urgency of it became much more obvious like well we really better do
something because the environmental stuff is becoming quite serious and the
the the inertia of lodge existing companies is just hard to appreciate it
they just want to keep doing the same thing and maybe 5% different every year
maybe 5% difference um the companies hate change so so then the you know the
time the Tesla you know so quiz creator we you know there was no no one was
doing electric cars no there weren’t really startups there weren’t the big
car companies weren’t doing it GM and Toyota cancelled their AV programs now
everybody’s doing is right now like we all like to congratulate about the
gigafactory 3 yeah yeah it’s amazing and I would like to know like why China is
the best country to build the first foreign Giga factory China is the
biggest consumer of cars in the world so it’s the basis so that that that alone
would be enough to do it thankful so there was a lot of
uncertainty about tariffs and and you know it’s like potentially would be
unable to sell effectively in China if we did not have factory locally or at
least unable to sell at prices that weren’t extremely high but those are
really the two two main reasons I think that the open I think there’s also a
third important reason that there’s just so much talent and drive in China that I
think it’s a good place to do a lot of things and the evidence is is there in
the incredible progress in the factory which was built with very high quality
in very short period of time and the the cars coming out of of Shanghai are
already very high quality I can’t tell amazing and I love that they used the
Chinese badge as well it’s like a symbol of pride and jerk you know made made in
China yeah it’s cool it’s super cool how did Tesla managed to get the first
wholly-owned foreign car company in China I mean a
factory well I went to China many times and they kept saying that we would have
to do this you know majority local and rancher and and I said that well we have
to partner with someone he said well oh you know we’re a little late to the
dance here you know so we partner with you know nobody then we left and and and
also we’re just a little company so you know we’ve you know because maybe we
should get married I’m like we were young so then you know and there also is
pointing out like you know this to me Chinese companies that are gonna you
know they’re establishing factories in or in the US and it’s like Faraday
future and that kind of thing and and that’s harps are owned by them and so I
mean to be fair it should be allowed that an American car company should be
able to own his factory in China as well and so we you know talk to him for over
a number of years and they eventually said okay well we’ll change slow and the
change is low but now those other companies can’t do it as well and so
it’s not just limited to Tesla and how much of that production he’ll like
learning’s have really enabled because one of the I don’t want like to bring up
capex but one of my favorite things is the stats and the shareholder letter if
it’s so much cheaper not only faster and like the you guys have
learned so much from this the Fremont factory and that really enabled like
kind of a turbocharged build for Shanghai yeah I think the big difference
is is like we are way less dumb than we were so the the focus of capital
expenditures was very high and it’s less high now and then with the the Shanghai
Factory we designed out all of it or as much of the the foolishness as we could
think of and that exists at Fremont and Nevada so we just made a lot of
decisions that weren’t smart and and we designed those out so such the
production line is much simpler so it’s much simpler and and better implemented
and then we also found like this so it’s in most cases the suppliers were more
efficient in China as well than in the US so we’ve also managed to get a lot
more output from existing equipment in in the US as well so the model 3 body
line in in Fremont for example was only ever meant to do five thousand cars at
the mill threes a week and it’s doing seven thousand and with was turning off
a bunch of unnecessary things that were being done so it did I mean there’s just
so there’s a lot of foolish things they were doing so and we changed some of
those ions and made it easier it would it’s it’s like a hundreds of little
things to make it to make it easier to build and and so being able to get 40
percent more output of the same line I’ve seen except makes a big difference
and and while while reducing the cost the marginal cost of production and I
and I think improving the quality of the car so it’s all good good stuff was the
result of a kind of hard work and a lot of people so yeah it was kind of miss it
necessary in that we those we didn’t really have a place to put a second
well three body line so it’s like you’re either we either make us one go faster
or we will not be able to achieve production but the model three body line
in Shanghai is much much simpler than the one in and I said that a good way
then because it has the same the same end result so if you yeah and and but
but it’s a much easier to understand that’s just getting rid of unnecessary
movement there’s a lot of unnecessary movement in the Fremont’s body line but
not in Shanghai so if we were talking about a lot of Tesla stuff but we kind
of wanted to ask you about your personal history cuz we were saying you were
saying how there’s some misconceptions you would like to make straight and you
know Ashley Vance wrote a book about you I just found a lovely book and it was
really wonderful I loved it and learned a little bit more history about your
family and um what are some of the misconceptions that you would like to it
correct you know most of this is just an end up being kind of water under the
bridge that people didn’t notice that much yeah I mean this is a sort of some
stories in there or it sounds like I like fired people all of a sudden and
arbitrarily which was not the case there you know it just Ashley asked somebody
who at who didn’t know what was going on and then that person was suddenly not
there and they didn’t know why but you you know I definitely do not fire
talented people and yeah you know unless there’s no option so and absolutely not
no without warning like keep hearing you say we like it sounds like you’re always
thinking of everybody I see was a very selfless person
thanks mom I mean seriously I mean yeah it’s like from the age of 12 that sounds
like you’ve been thinking about how to help humanity yeah I mean I’m not trying
to be sort of like some you know the sort of Savior or something like that
you know I said it’s really just that if it just seems like the it’s just I don’t
know seems like obvious thing to do like I don’t know why you do anything else
you know we want to maximize happiness to the population and propagate into the
future as far as possible and understand the nature of reality
and from that I think everything else follows I like talking about that people
are having this rumor that you’ve been wealthy whole life and there would be
like the only reason you became successful when you’ve debunked that and
can you like share more about your upbringing and what lets you to going to
North America sure I was in in South Africa and it seems like wherever there
was like a lot of the advanced technology in the world was being
produced in America and there’s a selector Valley especially so I wanted
to be where where I could sort of be have impact on technology
so that’s or be involved in the creation of new technology so that’s what product
me to go to at first Canada because I could get citizenship in Canada through
my mom and then ultimately to the US but yeah I just left South Africa when I 17
and landed March rule I had like an hour about two thousand dollars Canadian yeah
and I started staying in a youth hostel for a few days and then there was a you
could buy a ticket to your quest camp the country for her bucks and stuff a
long way and so I did with that and just took like greyhound
across Canada and so at least like little towns well we were getting I
didn’t have much I had like a backpack I can’t aboot casebooks but the the the
that of the bus company very had that unloaded it in one of the cities and
then the bus left without my light my stuff so we got nothing all your books
but you’re close to actually weirdly I think I might have had the books thing
but normally my clothes yeah because I needed I was just sitting in the bus
station reading waiting for the bus to get ready and I think got the books but
not no no but no clothing so but I managed to get to the Swift car
Saskatchewan and then what my but it’s your cousin cousin son yeah has a week
farm there and I worked on the wheat farm for about six weeks until I saw it
turn 18 in Saskatchewan it’s his town called Swift Current so that was
summertime right it’s June yeah yeah June 28th so because I’ve been there in
the winter and it’s like minus 40 yeah yeah you don’t want to be traveling yeah
did you guys care did you try ice skating no there was it was quite warm
well I mean the way there I was just I was there for about six weeks
oh you’re lucky you survived that’s good yes hold there if they work working on
the wheat farm did a bond raising and they cleared out the wheat bins you know
the grain bit at grain silos that kind of thing and I just worked the vegetable
patch basically it’s doing various things would you mind just thinking of
what you’re what you’re gonna do after that yeah so I figure what are your next
they know what to do so then when I ended up getting back on
the bus and went to Vancouver had a half uncle there who is kind of in the lumber
industry he like made lumber equipment Yeah right yeah basically so end up
chain sawing logs and working on at the slumber mole and cleaning out the the
way that were they boil the pulp and he’s like create crazy
so boiler rooms and that that might be the hardest job I’ve had actually
because yeah it’s like crawl through this little tunnel in a hazmat suit
and then I with with shovel with it and then you shovel this steaming sand and
put and mulch out of the the boilers to clean them out and it’s like there’s
only one entrance or exit which is like a little tunnel if you’re claustrophobic
you could roll it real bad and then you could shovel the the sand and the mulch
through the tunnel and actually block the tunnel and then somebody else would
reach in and shovel it out from the outside so it’s just a big enough long
enough if you have a shell with a long handle the one person on the inside can
shovel it far enough that there’s so on the outside can shovel it out and then
you had to rotate every 15 minutes to avoid getting hypothermia just a man
looking out for you there’s just two people kind of paired up so if like one
person’s just collapses and you’re gonna call somebody but it’d be really hard to
drag somebody out I have to say that it does not seem safe because the tunnel
gets blocked trying to get the automatron block that tunnel it would be
very difficult to in a short period of time it was the highest paying job at
the employment office okay the other jobs for like I don’t know eight dollars
now and this one was eighteen dollars now well they give you a half a hazmat
suit so how long did you have to did you do that job for like four days oh yeah
it was like a short-term thing clean greement cleaning that should say the
boiler rooms so what was next we were in boiler rooms and then yes
yeah I meant literally was like a lumberjack is chain sawing logs and just
during library lumber stuff basically for a few months there and then applied
for college go to Queen’s University in Kingston and was there for a couple
years and then somebody that’s just said I should reply to you pan and I I didn’t
think I’d be able to go because I I’ve painful way through University just
which is actually not that hard in Canada because the the tuition system
yeah the tuitions highly subsidized in Canada so so with you know with
basically some sort of work during the summer and semester and take out some
women’s and some get some scholarship so you can pretty much go to any college in
Canada I think but I met Sony who was at UPenn and group and they said you should
at least apply and I applied innate they actually gave me like quite a big
scholarship so that allowed me to go there and so they did the physics and
economics there and and then that that’s what led to then roadtrip to Stanford
with Robin rain and and and then I thought I was doing that that summer
that I was it was like okay I can either spend several years kind of doing a PhD
and another I care about the PhD actually better Snoodle lab but I could
either spend a bunch of yours working in a lab and maybe it would maybe the
technology would pan out or maybe it wouldn’t but the internet would it was
definitely about to go supernova in 95 so I was like okay look I I can always
come back to working on electric cars basically and wish I did but the
Internet is not gonna wait so so then I put
Sanford on deferment and started zip2 which was really just
there were start off with maps and directions yellow pages white pages that
kind of thing and it was best my knowledge the first massive direction of
the internet so and this was some like patents I have I don’t know how many
more of it like that flora steel apps at this point but for maps and directions
and geo pages and advertising and stuff and I wrote the whole the whole initial
card base I wrote personally because there wasn’t any rails I just me so and
I only had a few thousand dollars and my brother joined and he brought like five
thousand dollars which was supplied yeah at least for the first few months there
was literally only one computer so the website when the website wasn’t working
was because I was compiling code and an even see an internet connection was
pretty hard but there was an Internet service provider on the flow of Louis
we’re more like squatted in this office his landlord was always like out of the
country or something and nobody was using it so so you lived in there yeah I
think I read look you showered at the way I’m seeing it that’s right yeah we’re just like had no no money so do
you know what do people think about zip to generally was it like seem is a crazy
idea or like do people even understand the internet back then most people did
not understand the internet most people didn’t know even on Sand Hill Road like
we tried pitching people to invest in an Internet company most the VCS we pitched
to had never used the Internet you remember some of the VC firms you
went to on Sand Hill first most high we wouldn’t take a meeting and if they did
take a meeting they were pretty bored and not said like we refused made money
in the internet no we were like no one okay
but the sea change occurred when they escaped were in public
yeah so but the first thing I tried to do was not to start a company I tried to
get a job Netscape but they didn’t reply to me so I just I tried I tried hanging
out and lobby at Netscape I don’t know who to talk to
so that’s really too shy to talk to anyone I know it so it’s like okay I
can’t get a job at the only Internet company that you know that does Internet
software so then I try writing software so that’s kind of what – cool what
happened there yeah never like I said my brother came down and joined the cycle
like late 95 and then in January 95 I think it was the there was there was a
lot more interest in internet stuff following this the Netscape IPO and best
the soft software was more impressive I guess so then we then more debt more
davidow invested so their VC foam on Sand Hill Road and they they invested
like names like three million dollars for effectively 60% of the company Wow which we thought was crazy though like
with these good for there goes the money for nothing they must be mad yeah so that this
seemed like it was like crazy that there keeps to give so much money for that
company net consisted the time of about five people look like literally I think
five people at the time so but it worked out well for them in the end so we never
heard a lot more people we both out the service and and they were also ended up
writing a bunch of software to bring the newspapers online so knight-ridder
New York Times company Hearst Roth became investors and customers and at
one points up to was possible for a significant section of the New York
Times Company website yeah so I got to know the media industry
pretty well and over over what I worked really hard with wizard who’s it
effectively got too much there was too much control by the existing media
companies said too many board seats and too too much voting control and that
they kept try to push the company down directions that made no sense okay so we
actually had a really good software I’d say start with us comparable in some
ways more advanced than say a yahoo or excite at the time but it was just not
being used properly and it was a little being forced through through media
companies who would they’re not not use it so it’s like it’s okay with the best
technology but it’s it’s not being deployed properly so but fortunately
Compaq came along and they comp out of come by get acquired digital equipment
and digital equipment had or at Alta Vista which the time was probably best
at the search best search engine so they thought that their idea was they will
combine Alta Vista with a bunch of other Internet companies and try to compete
create a competitor to Yahoo were excited that that was the
so I used to be a big thing amazingly and Yahoo used to be a big thing I was
like owned by Verizon or something yeah there is a oh yeah well you know back
then Yahoo is a crazy story they you know they failed to acquire Google twice
you know Microsoft offered them like 40 billion or something and they turned it
down then Alibaba saved them out of nowhere
yeah the Alibaba stake was worth more than the whole company I won by like
yeah huge amount it was basically a proxy for Alibaba sure straining yeah
exactly but at one point I mean at that time I could go back to say 98 99 yahoo
seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut like to literally like this company will
you know is a behemoth nobody could possibly defeat them but anyway
and where’s Compaq today yeah but that was their idea which is you
know at least if executed well could have made sense we’re recording a
podcast sure so what do you remember about sit – yeah yeah we remember yeah
so but then the internet came along we can this huge thing I mean it was always
was always there but it became a big deal and then Adan was working on
working in Silicon Valley and as I remember it you never heard a meeting
where some of the yellow pages companies were thinking of doing sort of online
yellow pages and no we would I would I’ve been at that yeah you called me up
and you said we should do you think you can do a better job so we think we can
do it maybe made that up to try and get Kimball interested how would I be in a
meeting with yellow pages covered I have no idea that’s what I remember I don’t even know any yellow pages yeah
I agree with you I really do now but but so it was like the April of 1995 we
started working on it and the I guess the idea was very simple to take mapping
and apply it to the Internet and there were there were a few other companies
trying to do it but no one with very the very cool technology of sort of what was
called vector based mapping which is which is what we will use today where
the map is actually a lot you don’t know not just a picture I think we were the
first I I know there were other people putting maps on the internet but I think
we were the first to put vector based mapping which is what the kind of
technology used today on the internet and daughter’d all directions so it was
cool like I remember my brother and I pressing go on his server at our office
and took about 60 seconds for the first daughter daughter daughter daughter
directions to come up on why I mean and even 60 seconds was amazing you’re like
this is incredible directions anywhere this is just amazing and they see an
amazing at the time now it’s like so absolutely normal but this was like an
impossible thing it was so cool and using Java you know had coded a
interactive map which again all super normal stuff today but the ability to
just draw a square and zoom in or zoom out that was just unheard of technology
Central Square red square on the browser here was really that was unusual yes
he’s like yeah well if you’re using Java applets yeah this is when Java sucked
and there’s barely yeah the most is 95 I think we even got some sort of
recognition because it was the most advanced java application on on java at
the time because it was so ridiculously hard
it was it was a really crappy technology at the time but this this was done on it
this thing is if you if you downloaded the the Java applet we could we could
transfer the vector data not just a bitmap and this is what everyone’s on a
modem so some reason like you know 20 cubits modem or you know trying to
download in a map image for take forever whereas if you had but downloading the
vector data that locally rendered are using the java applet was super was
relatively speaking super fast yeah that’s what made it cool yeah I mean
yeah I even like vector maps even Google Maps losing like raster Maps a few years
ago okay seems like very etiquettes time well we were that I guess that I believe
I believe the two of us were the first humans to see maps and builder little
directions on the Internet which i think is pretty cool well they were an
internet based right so you could you could actually I don’t think Garmin was
even a player at this point it was NAVTEQ was the only place that we were
that’s where we got the data from and they were building it for four Hertz
never lost which came out a few years later you know those things that no one
uses in need the GPS systems really really bad technology but the actual
mapping data was amazing and so we took that and applied it to the Internet we
were 22 and 23 at the time it had cost some three hundred million dollars to
build this data and they gave it to us for free
with a simple contract saying if you ever make any money on this you’ve gotta
you gotta come to us and that’s it that’s how we got it that’s amazing yeah
you can switch what happens if you ask that’s my sleeve and there’s also part
of it was these guys have been working so hard on the tech and no one had ever
seen what they were doing because it was not on the internet and was not being
used for for Hertz and so it was just they were excited that someone would use
the data and would think people could see what they’ve been working on so how
did you guys get the engineering chops to pull this off because it sounds like
you were so young you didn’t really have any help and then you built
like cutting-edge piece of technology I mean clothing from I don’t know what
time what age but publish your fruits like blast our game right yeah when he
was 12 did you write any other cool stuff back then no I wrote a bunch of
games yeah yeah and then like occasionally software for people that
asked for software you know you also work for a video game company yeah our
family it was called rocket science yeah by the way we took a SpaceX to yesterday
was insane that was amazing I know it’s so good it’s like Batman’s lair in there
but it gives you perspective on what Tesla’s doing because the technology is
so advanced and that there’s you know interchange of information there like
the I know they used to inconel fuse fry it was from SpaceX when they couldn’t
get the power output right it kept burning up the fuse and the performance
bottles mm-hmm so yeah it’s awesome yeah it’s pretty cool to see the SpaceX tech
being applied to Tess laughing I think there’s a jump there’s one joint
employee between SpaceX and Tesla and it’s the materials engineer because
they’re just not that many humans on the planet that know how to do this stuff
maybe sure well sound like back in the old days it was was it just Elom doing
the coding or I mean I did a little for like HTML recently I know there was read
no money so you can employ him for anyone so I just wrote I roll the
software and you worked through the night right I mean we lived in a little
office I think this address was for 73 Sherman Way in yeah in Palo Alto yeah I
was probably like 15 feet wide by 30 feet long with a little closet in the
back and we would we couldn’t afford a place to sleep order like a plate like a
house a home or apartment so we would sleep in it and it had to have caps that
was a futon and it would pull out the futon take turns sleeping on the futon
or the floor well though he caught it a lot of height so I usually got
futon at night and we had we had to code it at night because the server when the
internet was live needed to be functional and we just had data for the
Bay Area at the time so we were just kind of making sure that the people in
the Bay Area could use it and then and then we had a little mini fridge with a
cooking stove on it and we’d cook simple things you know the pasta sauce and
pasta and things like that that would be as cheap as dirt
people think you it’s expensive to eat real food is actually really cheap folks
vegetables pasta and super cheap who’s the absolutely the cheapest and
then and then we would go eat at jack-in-the-box which I can still kind
of ship this well I haven’t eaten therefore for probably 20 years or
longer maybe 22 years and I can still probably recite the entire menu yeah
recycle through the menu jack-in-the-box because it was like it’s a few blocks
away from and it was up in 24 hours open 24 hours trying to get you know dinner
in Palo Alto after tan is afraid of zero yeah so did they know you very well
jack-in-the-box well they didn’t really know no and I remember one time I got a
milkshake in and I was so tired I was like 4 for the morning and just needed
to get some sugar for them for the rest of the night and it was something in it
and I remember just flicking it up and just pretending it didn’t exist and as I
kept drinking my milkshake it was it was like that order that kind of like not in
the zone to go back into jack-in-the-box and argue about a milkshake but I don’t
want to not drink the milk shake apologizing their food was like so cheap
is that they had some people I think that a food poisoning yes yes it was
right around that time when they got into a food poisoning scare it was just
very cheap either you know if taking some action because
the after the food poisoning hopefully there is just like a little
bit taste funny stuffing if it tastes funny
you run out of things to eat because after like the 17th chicken fajita PETA
you do it the teriyaki blow-up thing it’s actually it buried but it was it
was edible teriyaki bowl teriyaki bowl wasn’t bad it was
sourdough grilled grilled cheese things wasn’t bad yeah I don’t see their – I
mean it was obviously good days I mean we just we were just hoping that people
would let us stay in the country we weren’t really that worried about
what we were eating we were just doing everything we could to to get to get
someone to support the company we didn’t really understand understand the venture
capital with that much so we were doing a seed round and angel round and doing
our best to talk to everyone in anyone we could find we had a very good friend
with us Greg curry who’s now passed away who was older than us by about ten years
I think and yeah it was a wonderful mentor helped us out and put a little
money in as well and and then I did a lot of the work to just find just
network with people I think our our first salesman who was selling Yellow
Pages ads for us I was a real estate agent who knew another person who knew
this other person who helped us who helped us raise put together we ended
not doing the round but put together a round of like $200,000 or something yeah
and then but it likes part of it or something yeah but I think once we had
the Java Java map which was really quite impressive I mean if you’ve never seen
if you’re never you’ve never seen Google Maps or Yahoo Maps before it really is a
remarkable thing to see we we started to go to we got it we put some audiences
with some venture capitalists and it just went from we were starving we had
no car well the car we had it broken huh yeah I remember that it’ll be a milky
way we did a road yeah across the country the one that my mom had some
pictures though I think this I think this still is a carve in the road at a
page mill and an El Camino which we the wheel road Moffat will fell off and in
the guy intersection just drove it yeah it’s like the point of which the wheel
falls off it’s time to go to the dog no that was that was way smaller that’s way
later because we already had to deal but we were uh we were not I don’t view were
but I was not legally in America so I was illegally there I was legally there
but what else might we take student work oh yeah right
I just had a student work yeah you you’re you were doing a Pete you’re
supposed to be doing a PhD in Stanford didn’t ya decided not to so and that’s
like a slough did you work sort of supporting whatever you know
I try to get a visa but there’s there’s just not no VZ you can get to just start
up yeah and so so we ended up hitting yes we got a deal from from for more
David out and this really hot well respect to DC firm and we had to break
the news to them that that that we take the bus we took the bus to get to to the
offices we don’t have a car and we don’t have an apartment and we’re illegal I
was legal with my visa was gonna run out in two years okay
yeah but I was definitely you know definitely I we need to get it sorted
and so they were great I mean they’re the the lead investor his wife was from
Canada they knew the whole challenge of being an immigrant and we have Canadian
passports and so they they funded the company and they gave us some money to
buy each by car and they gave us a salary so we could
rent an apartment and they had we I got a visa through through the company but
but the day the morning we were supposed to present to the partners I went to
taunted it was my mother was freaking out but she needed her computer fixed
and really seriously this brutal so I managed to fly back on sunday and the
meeting was on Monday and I get to the airport on Sunday and the the Board of
Control are they they called me out there like you’re going out of work you
know going down for travels like no no I’m going out of work I explained
actually no I didn’t I said I’m not going to work because I think that’s
what I was supposed to say the lawyers told me not to say anything
and so they rejected me from the border and so I’m supposed to would use a
presentation with you on the next morning and so a friend of mine came to
pick me up at the airport and drove me across the border and we went to the the
the buffalo border and just said we’re gonna go see the David Letterman Show
and I was like yeah go ahead the late-night flight from Buffalo to
San Francisco and made the meeting in the morning so yeah we’re technically
we’re not going now to work because that would offer quite made you a faint
here’s something you know we need you yeah I wasn’t actually paid anything
yeah yeah technically we weren’t actually no you’re right you’re not
actually breaking the law we’re not breaking the law because we were not
being paid anything maybe it was very well written getting paid for something
no not done that no yeah right exactly we were not not being paid exactly
but yeah so so then they approved the deal that Monday and we started building
zip to you know and it wasn’t a business model for you know back in those days
well it was kind of like a pre-k like yet Yelp is like its but it business was
simmered it sort of yeah yeah but it was at a time when most businesses didn’t
didn’t know what the internet was so and most people didn’t have an email address
or yeah we went online to them what a website was the internet was
kind of this cool thing people are using netscape browser and i think by the end
of it we call 18,000 businesses to be on pay pain to be with websites and
everything yeah you know a lot of the things that you can do today like
automatically build web sites we built a lot of those sort of tools to make it
easier to build web sites and we had to sell door-to-door it because that was
the only way did you hire people or is it just to you guys go in order no no we
had a team by that time cuz we could hire a high ratina but I remember
talking to Yellow Pages guy once and it was amazing that was the head of the
Toronto Star that they owned all the yellow pages of your page will never die
famously literally because we went to talk to into partner we said we want to
part with you and this this be funny partners to do to put the old pages
online and he picked up the yellow pages this book this big thick book that full
of ads is multi-billion dollar risk I mean these guys were so arrogant and
know like we are kings of the world and we will never end yeah you see
everything you’re gonna replace this I mean my head and my head is like dude
you already did yeah but I mean like and we saw the growth of the internet we saw
the use of the Yellow Pages we saw even more competitors and stuff and no one
was using the paper Yellow Pages if you had the choice yeah exactly
no one yes and so so at that point very few people who are in the internet so it
was really a question of really is the internet gonna succeed which we were
huge believers in and these guys were not you know they didn’t even it was
like one one foreign country after after another we say like listen we’ll just
put your L pays online so you know cost very little you know you’re still own
all the content everything and they’re like oh just throw us throw
us out of the office yeah you’re like no and how dare you even suggest this we’ll
just build it yeah but it’s been in to watch over the years where like in
PayPal the competitors were not banks you know even though that should have
been the know that there would they weren’t banks to try to defeat it wasn’t
it eBay mostly that was maybe add some court voetbal point yeah that which but
it wasn’t exactly like PayPal yeah but generally eBay had an issue with trying
to get payment for stuff like were like two people would have to mail checks to
each other yeah yeah if you know mail a check and you receive the check and yeah
how do you know the checks real then you’ve got a you know cash check and
take you know two to five days was for the money to transfer so it could take
two weeks before somebody had confirmed payment and then I and then they would
ship you the item and so that the transaction velocity was very low as a
result with you had instant payment you important for a transaction velocity
dramatically like factor of you know maybe three to five yeah but I just sort
of seen that the when you when an industry is disrupted that you’ve
worried about the major players I mean we remember when we saw the test that we
were aspiring to be the GM of the 21st century
four years later GM went bankrupt and and and it’s you know whoever is going
to be the main competitors you know we don’t know yet but it may not be that
the entrenched players maybe not sort of other companies and so so that happened
it’s up to where we we tried our best to partner with the industry because that
seemed like the best way to make some money and actually have a revenue model
and we ended up finding the newspapers to be a better partner because they
didn’t have the Yellow Pages business and their I think they think we’re
smarter their classifies business was it was getting eaten away by Craigslist
you know before Craigslist classifies was the bread and butter of
of the newspaper and of course anyone who’s used Craigslist would never use
the newspaper so it was was those folks seemed to have a better least some of
the players had a more more vision of the future and so our business became
putting your major newspapers in New York Times to all of the you know
Philadelphia Inquirer Chicago Tribune or whatever all the main players all the LA
Times everyone and then we started going internationally doing the same thing so
if you went on to the New York Times website and you want to research for a
restaurant of course have all these reviews or if you wanted to search for a
home there because you could we tied them MLS together with maps and
door-to-door directions so all of these services are we now used in take for
granted ed use maps new directions we we did that all in the 90s to find a
business model yeah right so gonna recall things that are quite a while so
it would’ve been like 98 when compact offered to acquires up to and which I
think it was a good thing to put into acquired because as I mentioned the the
newspapers actually what media companies had too much control over zip to so they
were not we had great technology that was not being deployed effectively and
they were just generally be averse to anything that could remotely be
competitive with their newspapers so so we’re sort of trapped in this situation
and the rything compact came along and bought the company in late 98 when the
deal closed early 99 so that as a result that came when I had some capital twenty
million dollars wasn’t out of it and I think think about that was frustrating
to me was that would both incredible technology and it had not been used they
were just sort of like was very disappointing you know put a
lot of work into this technology and just wasn’t being used so I was like
okay I’m gonna want to do one more thing on the internet just to show that we can
make technology that is when it’s use properly can be extremely effective the
souther about what what’s digital essentially what supports it what exists
in the form of information and is also not high bandwidth because it in 99
people still mostly had modems so you couldn’t like video is not really
feasible in 99 so but money is low bandwidth and digital effectively mostly
digital so it’s like what can we do to make money work better and like money in
my views is essentially an information system for label allocation so it hasn’t
power in and of itself it’s a it’s like a database for this for guiding people
what as to what they should do and so you can think of banks as a set of
heterogeneous databases with that that are actually not very secure and
certainly the the monetary system the transfer system of checks is not is very
insecure still is insecure so our credit cards and and it’s all still mostly
batch processing it was something entirely batch processing that day so it
was not so payments were the money was just like heterogeneous high latency low
security collection of databases that’s what banks are and so just from an
information theory standpoint there should be something that can be much
better if it can be real-time secure and you know just very fast and essentially
it’s just one real-time database so it’s like okay let’s try to build
that so that that’s what x.com was and then at the time I also thought we
should try to do is just do all the financial things as well not just
payments I still think that’s really what PayPal should have done but
whatever it’s water under the bridge at this point and then there was a company
that was for and run same time called con finiti which was Peter tailed Max
Levchin and Ben look Noah sake David Sachs Kent how are you number of those
and a tech stock home there’s also like Jeremy Stoppelman and who created Yelp
Roelof Botha who then went on to run Sequoia and and find YouTube that was it
was Dexcom so we just have this like to show you two companies with like a crazy
amount of talent X comic infinity and could Confederacy saw it as a Palm Pilot
cryptography company back when you’re you could communicate by the infrared
port above home pilot so it was like so you you could basically communicate
crypto tokens between pump outs using the infrared port and then reconcile
them on a piece on water PC now obviously that’s there they evolved to
go on the in the payments direction as well and we were both in Palo Alto or
like literally a block away from each other I think at one point were briefly
even in the same building that was you know yeah so so we were just competing
with each other like maniacs and and then we had a coffee and University
Avenue and said hey when we just combine our efforts over just gonna bludgeon
each other to death here so we merged con finiti and XCOM
and raised 100 million dollars in the space of three weeks in March of 2000
yeah and then April the mauka went into freefall oh so yeah it’s like I remember
that was insane and we kind of thought it was gonna go into freefall but were
like we better get this thing done fast we’re both gonna die so and it says so
excellent was technically the acquirer of Khan finiti but it was a you know
fifty point one and forty nine point nine or something like that and and then
was a lot of drama that there was so much drama at EDX at home and the
company was called XCOM for about a year and then we changed the company name to
the product name the part of the product was PayPal but all the incorporation
documents and everything is all my incorporation documents
I actually don’t know you know I don’t know who did the PayPal I was never a
huge fan out of PayPal as a name the reason being that I think that I
thought it made sense for for the company to kind of broader be much
broader yeah exactly I mean if you don’t yourself to payments then necessarily
people want to transfer money out of the system and as they transfer money out of
the system the efficiency of the database drops dramatically because now
that you’re in a traditional banking world so if you just offer all the
things that if you just basically address all the reasons why people are
taking money out of PayPal systems so you have to provide them with with
checks so that you have a bridge to the legacy transaction system
you gotta probably provide them with a debit card provide them with the ability
to get a loan and that kind of thing and and but these were all ancillary to
accelerating the velocity and Acuras and security of payments then then
basically pay for would be all the money is it would just suck all the money out
of the banks and they wouldn’t be the banks would go away so any plan you’re
gonna do with the big stock all right there’s a hope if they just execute the
business plan I can have a product plan I wrote in July 2000 let’s just do that
but they I talked to them there were several times but they didn’t do it so
why did you was really the drama well things were very dicey in 2000 you know
companies were dying like all over the place so I CEO of the combined company
and we’re doing quite well from a growth standpoint like adding a hundred
thousand users a month type of thing which back then was a lot but off
financially things were tough and we needed to raise financing around
we were also like there were some technical questions around what what
code architecture would we go with and then there’s also a branding question
like I said like I think we should not use PayPal its brand because this is not
consistent with being where all the money is
you see we want to centralized database so so I was kind of against to PayPal
branding and and I wanted basically I wanted to do a bunch of things that
would that seemed extremely risky and I I’m I think those things would have
worked out but at a time when companies are dropping like flies and I’m
proposing it you know we do all these things that sound very risky this is
what this is just much too scary for the rest the team everyone’s kind of trying
the spatial approach to self-driving you know they’re doing way more for 10 years
he cares that you cannot say hey we think vision is the wave board and deep
learning and vision you know will take us all the way there how do you find
like for courage inside – I mean people have to be coming up to all this you
know thinking that you’re an aviator it’s never gonna happen and you know how
do you find that in yourself to like go through all that resistance and still be
confident in your thesis I mean I try to be hyper-rational so it’s not you know –
it’s just like if this is the reasoning fits and you’re not violating laws of
physics or something then that’s the thing you should do so yeah and I guess
the other day if we lost all the money I wouldn’t you know song us we didn’t lose
a lot of people’s money I guess I just lost lose my money out of mine at these
things to start seeing that crazy to me so like I think if if hey pallid I
executed the plan that I wanted to execute on I think you would probably be
the most valuable company in the world yeah
we called X better would be the most valuable company in the world on the
other hand now that’s not all good though on the other hand then a lot of
super talented people would have stayed and because because people have got
acquired by eBay long after like you know those like the PayPal coup at the
end of 2018 months later it was acquired by eBay so and and then it you know
feels to think of the companies that came out of PayPal the so-called PayPal
mafia YouTube you know most etch is Steven Chad
created to YouTube you ever solve them and created Yelp Peter creator Palantir
and bunch of other things as David Sachs creates company and Reid
Hoffman created LinkedIn it’s almost like all that market cap still exists
but now it’s allocated on all these other tech companies instead of XCOM
yeah so in retrospect I was like it’s maybe a good thing that X wasn’t okay if
I wasn’t didn’t achieve those things because all these other companies would
have at least been delayed or may not have existed there’s definitely been
kind of resurgence in interest as we get into kind of cryptographic you know
money Bitcoin and all that like interest in this idea you know and it’s
interesting like software has an e in the banking industry yet software’s even
a lot of industries there’s some that it just hasn’t in banking still there you know
stripes stripes eating them slowly but they’re doing pretty good job that they
that they’re the better banks are in trouble if it’s not stripers be somebody
else and you love code but you don’t seem to be as bullish from Bitcoin you
have any could you break down like why cuz you’re talking about this big
database that’s more secure for faster transactions it seems like bitcoins
hitting at least some of those I’m neither here nor there are Bitcoin you
know yeah what do you think when you read like satoshis wiped it for the
first time it’s pretty interesting it was pretty clever
it’s just like the things yeah this gets like the crypto people angry but at the creepy there there are
transactions that are not within the balance of the law and those in there
obviously many of those in different countries and normally cash is used for
these transactions but but cat but in order for illegal transactions to occur
those the cash must also be used for legal transactions you need a an illegal
to legal bridge that’s where Krypton comes in
so is it kind of a darknet stuff it can’t be entirely because otherwise how
do you buy a normal stuff to it and cash these days is used just much rarer it’s
hard to take increasing it up with use cash some places you can’t use cash at
all yeah so there’s a forcing function for
transactions that are illegal quasi legal and in some cases legal but it’s
got to have some it’s got to be both legal and illegal so it doesn’t count
but otherwise otherwise you simply it can’t just be transactions within an
illegal economy because how do you buy like you know food and a house or
something yeah some you go you must have a legal to a legal bridge so we’re a
secret respectively as a replacement for cash but not as a replacement for as a
primary or not as I do not see quickly being the primary database so now this
is this is sometimes taken being like I’m being judgmental about crypto and
it’s actually I think there’s a lot of things that are illegal that shouldn’t
be illegal but you know so it’s not as though I think this sometimes
governments just have too many laws about the missions that they should and
shouldn’t have so many things that are illegal didn’t you say like on Mars
there would be less laws hopefully yeah this will propose a direct democracy
Mars I think probably does the best it I mean probably is best thing the most
ignore see and you want to make laws super short and simple right oh yeah I
mean like if people can’t understand Louis then how do you then what’s
usually gonna happen as some special interest is gonna bamboos a little
public with long Louis yeah and then the Lord is like reading this Lord this law
is like the size of Lord of the Rings but a very boring version of it competitive free market it’s weird yeah
absolutely so alright so so you were to keep the
lower short and I haven’t given some kind of sunset period so they’re just
stay there forever otherwise just accumulate over time and
just eventually they’ll be unwieldy so the laws should have some timeframe
associated with them they automatically go away so I mean it just keep a little
short to avoid trick trickery and and sort of special interests the ultimately
does not benefit the public and and then I think direct direct democracy is less
susceptible to corruption than a representative democracy so aircraft
from just being like to what degree is this action being taken that do not
serve that generated the interests of the population you know do not need to
result in a net increase in population happiness as a whole so that’s that’s
that’s why I think prolly divert direct is better and and then here’s how have
things in real time so you know if you want to vote on something you just you
can vote on it real fast it would probably make it eat outside
make it easier to get rid of Louis than to put them in because these things tend
to have a lot of inertia and to have a bias towards having laws
go away and not be there you know so like maybe it takes 60% to put a law in
place but 40% to remove its looming like that yeah let’s try it you know see what
happens the bills are extremely long that they
pass no one reads them hardly anyone in Congress has read the bill and if you
eat if they’ve read the bill if you quiz them on the details that were not
they’ll find their page yeah it was like 20 what’s yeah this was no idea it seems
kind of alarming that that’s like the status quo and everyone just accepts his
play yeah the these laws tend to be written by industry groups as well so
that they’ll write the law and then and then interact with the congressional
staff and and and but most the work will be done by the industry groups and so
they’re gonna write laws that entrench the position it’s likely the people are
the players buying the ref like you were saying earlier that exact right so you
get the ring of three capture the yeah the players shouldn’t be paying the ref
salary everything well the rep should be thinking I’m gonna retire and get paid
by the players so it’s kind of amazing that it works as well as soon as given
all these issues yeah so then I fell I I never getting blurry and anyway in 2001 dr. day – yeah he went on vacation right
yeah a South Africa with Kimmel actually yeah that’s crazy
and then came back and I had like near death case of malaria yeah we live group
aside we go to the bush veldt all the time
so the what you guys pull Safari and you just reaches that house in the bush do
you just because every every few weeks or so I don’t think we ever took malaria
tablets yeah Yeah right like and so we were told
to and we did take malaria tablets you took you to him as well and and when you
go back the was in Stanford and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with
him our uncle who’s a doctor in South Africa so he has malaria and they said
no no he does have an area we checked to check a game an area kind of hide to the
body oh this is 2001 so sort of after the
PayPal kuso’s ISIL on the PayPal board and I was providing you know providing
sort of product advice more not but in December late late December 2000 which
went on a trip to South Africa came back January early early January 2001 and I
have a severe case of malaria almost died factors waiting to see you were sleepy I
mean like your it affected your brain that that harsh not yet no it’s bad it’s
really bad it’s not change your perspective how do we like influence you
after that I don’t know I don’t think it changed me that much would you say no yeah but how many times you’ve been on
vacation pounds it was very no no more vacations though haha well yeah it was a
eras it took me like almost six months to get back to normal and so and then if
the SN 2001 I just thinking about you know what do next and and I thought the you know this is like ok sustainable
energy like a basic electric cars solar space and then if I might ask me you
know so what do you do next I said well you know we’d love to do something it’s
face but I didn’t think anything of there’s anything that a private
individual could do in space but at least I’m gonna go on the NASA website
and find out when people are going tomorrow’s and I go on the network last
website and it’s nor to be found and that’s why we’re like oh this is pretty
weird yeah and then I discovered that it was actually a NASA policy not to talk
about it really yeah that time why was I do you think
what I was told is that when George first the first was when he was elected
he said in 90s now to NASA to put together a plan to send people to Mars
in 90 days they came back with a plan and it was 500 million dollars and this
is a political suicide so then after that talk of manned missions to Mars
were bad that’s why I sold yeah so anyway so just like well you know maybe
there’s something to be down here to get the public excited about going Mars yeah
if I give public excited then they will vote NASA to have more funding and so
the original idea for SpaceX was just to have a philanthropic mission to Mars
yeah it started as a graphic of a pot plant you just need to get the pot plant
to Mars you know it was like a inspiration sure just as a as a way to
prove to the world that it could be done yeah it’s a the mission was called Mars
oasis there was season dehydrated nutrient al that would hydrate upon
landing you go get this great picture of green plants a red background you’re
like the first sort of life as we know it on Mars and the you go solar nope
you know a lot about what does it take to keep plants alive and have a little
miniature greenhouse on unsocial Mars so that’s that’s why I initially pursued as
it’s like a way to basically increase NASA’s budget that was it wasn’t let’s
create a space company it was how do we get NASA’s budget increased so we can go
some fuel to Mars and over there so I try to figure out how to get this thing
launched and I’ve that the Rockets the European and US records for too
expensive and I can’t afford them so I rich Russia to try by some ICBMs
in 2001 a literally and they kept raising the price on me and it was quite
being quite difficult and I said I you know I could afford to pay like I don’t
know nine million dollars for ICBM but not not 20 because I had prearranged you
two of these missions because odds are good that one would fail and then it
could have a negative impact potentially so the Alpha pretty weird being in
Moscow for by CBN’s in 2001 the military and say well you know that they gotta
get rid of these things anyway because of the arms reduction trees so it’s like
you’ve listening if you’re gonna throw it away
I’ll bite off your hands you know they have to I was like ss-18 to never it was
the biggest nuclear missile in the Russian fleet and but you know deaky
decommission these things so why not just tell me them instead and and then
they were talking the price would go off and like this is not good
cuz I you know even if at once we do a deal they’re probably gonna get shafted
afterwards too and if this is the pre deal shafting it’s like it’s what’s
gonna be after or it’s you know after I’ve given the money I’m gonna be good
so so that I so and then I started looking into it is acquire Rockets cost
so much and as there’s nothing fundamental about why you have so much
if you add up the materials it’s a few you know it’s not like the raw materials
cost that much really just need to figure out a smart way to get the
materials in that shape and and then do you need we need to make Rockets
reusable so like any form of transport if it’s not reusable its
expensive you know if you’ve got a cars for single use you know and you need a
roundtrip you know for two car for $20,000 then your round trip will cost
you $40,000 so it’s the same things true for
aircraft and boats and rockets everything so so there were the Rockets
were expensive even as expendable things but then they were also not useful so
there’s no way we’re gonna have a city on Mars unless we can have reasonable
low-cost reliable rockets that’s fundamentally the issue so so I came to
conclusion that even if this Mazda way suspicion was successful it would still
not result in the group it would not materially further the goal of being a
multi-planet species because the rocket technology was not good enough and it
was not getting better in fact it was arguably getting worse so
so the real thing it needed to be solved here is reusable rocketry and lowering
the cost of access to space and that that’s sounds like okay well I’m gonna
try to do that so I was good SpaceX started in early 2002 basically I was living in Palo Alto at the time but
most of the engineering expertise was in Southern California so that’s why I
moved to LA did you ever have any like even England of imagination that you
could be doing you know doesn’t launch as a year and being contracted with NASA
is that even like it I thought that was Brett I know I thought we had you know
10% chance of success or something like that secure jobs with you I in something
exactly I said I actually tried to hire but it basically they’ve been a number
of attempts at doing a a private rocket company or commercial
rocket company and they’re all already that all failed effectively and then
it’s to the two degree that it was like a joke in the aerospace industry like
how do you make a large portion large fortune in the rocket you know if it’s
all with it yeah how do you how do you make a small fortune in the rocket
industry start with a large one just jump to the punchline you know so yeah
it was very hard to recruit people because I had not built any physical
hardware before so it’s and I kept being called Internet guy for longest time for
ages finally I made four first ten years they call me Internet guy we basically
had internet entrepreneur slash fool he’s trying to start a rocket company
what if an idiot that was generally how it went so it was quite hard to recruit
people and especially if so he’s got like a secure job at you know Boeing or
Lockheed or something like that then trying to recruit them to the inner
chief engineer of a sort of rocket company or some hopeless well so
basically no no nobody nobody who who was good was willing to join and it was
no point in hiring Smitty wasn’t good so ended up being chief engineer you know
which is yeah the the first three launches failed and probably if I’d been
better than I we would have gotten to over sooner yeah
it took me a while to learn all these things so boxer works enjoy people did
you go to Utah and talk to anybody like it a TA orbital or oh yeah visited a TA
yeah well those dollars Virginia yeah yeah visited ATK visited orbital and the
overall had had a success with the solid rocket based Pegasus but they’d also
gotten like an eight launch deal from DARPA so okay if you got your starting
off with basically an 8 launch the Oakland our friend that’s a good
situation I know we did not have a lower seal from anyone
I’m Pegasus is a and I mean there’s some clever engineering with Pegasus but
fundamentally I think launching rockets from planes is not sensible
it sounds like it would be a good idea but it’s not
and then even overall went away from doing that with their as soon as you get
past certain sizes they went to ground lowers I was reading somewhere that um
88 if I call Morton that they they were doing snowcats they were doing ski lifts
and they sold that to the man who made the DeLorean he really yeah I just read
that in their Wikipedia I’m like oh that’s fascinating wanna come on yeah
okay sorry yes sir SpaceX going and that was very
difficult we got the Falcon 1 rocket built it was
very simple it’s the simplest overall rocket that’s a liquid fuel so it had
the potential for reusability for for useful reusability and then we had three
failures finally got to overt at the end of 2008 that was incredible
no doubt of Kwajalein and watching your order like that blog for a while yeah I
actually still have it up there it’s a little and it’s a small old blogging
platform that Google still keeps alive it’s called quad rockets blogspot.com
traffic surge yeah totally check it out it’s all their photos and yeah there was
one picking up a satellite we’d launched the rocket and the rocket exploded which
was very very very sad everyone’s residing people about pouring their
heart and soul into the rocket and the satellite was I think in the US Navy or
Air Force Academy Air Force Academy and it it was thrown out of the rocket and
fell through the roof of the hangar on the business like we’re really building
a hangar exactly it’s like a like a like a stand up tales small tool shed yeah this room the rocket it had this is the
first launch failure so the it had a there’s a cracked lumen of B nut on that
they contracted during during liftoff and created it so the engine there was
an engine fire the this would’ve been the end of the world but there was a one
of the the helium Lions was steel mesh over aft with a Kevlar sleeve
and it melted the the sleeve the the and so we’ve lost pressure pneumatic
pressure which caused the engine ballast to close so about 30 seconds after
liftoff the engine shut itself off due to the engine fire and then it went
ballistic and and and basically smashed in in the rocks just a couple hundred
feet offshore and when it when it’s wet it was quite a big explosion actually in
an explosion the satellite which was in a fairing went through a fairing on a
ballistic arc back onto the island smashed through the tool shed roof and
onto the floor in a pretty reasonable condition is it totally gnarled you
could reuse it we gave them back their satellite like we didn’t lose your
satellite but may need some repair it was so improbable that the satellite
would come back we had couple more failures after that yeah 2008 was
particularly a full year because we had the third failure 2008 the tears are out
financing ground collapsed oh such a nightmare and I got divorced and I think
2008 was really bad yeah yeah I don’t think anyone could I think
2018 I think 2018 would was worse with the
model tree ramp right oh there were so many things that happen 2018 so strong
is insane yeah so yeah sorry so earlier in 2002 saw X base X moved out to LA it
was pretty fun the beginning like that generally startups are pretty fun in the
beginning and then you go through the you know chasm of doom chasm of doom
yeah yeah it’s rough despair yeah usually it’s like it runs like super
optimistic and excited over first year or so and then when things start to go
awry and there’s usually many years of grief before he was finally day dawns so
yeah so like 2002 and then about in 2003 was when Rosen and JB Straubel called me
up and said hey everyone I have lunch I want to say how old was I think that’s
his name but he he really had he was a pioneer in space technology and electric
vehicles we’re so I didn’t know how to cross over
and he done to her rose and motors like sort of an electric vehicle company and
but he’d also been pioneer in geostationary satellites so Eric will be
open today this so it weird like lunch at Ikes mr.
Malinsky of humming and pop in El Segundo that where SpaceX started and so
let’s travel and Rosen we were talking about space stuff and then started
talking about electric cars and I said oh yeah you know so I was gonna be
working on electric cart technology at Stanford and and Jim JB said you know we
should take a drive in the teaser or from AC propulsion and I was like yeah
yeah because the the the timing is it was like lithium-ion batteries was
really like the critical breakthrough needed for compelling electric cars and
so it’s like okay I’ll go try out there t0 which had specs similar to what we
eventually bought to market it has a roadster so then I so yeah so I got I
got a ride in the t0 and then I try to convince al cocconi and Tom gage to
commercialize the t0 now the teaser oh and there’s like lots of stuff online
about it it you know it didn’t have doors or a roof so like clearly you need
to add those things or any safety systems and it was very unreliable
because it was just like a sort of a proof of concept basically it was
basically like and assemble you guys really had trouble scaling it oh it’s a
minute literally didn’t have doors or or or any airbags or an effective cooling
system for the battery and it was not safe and it was very unreliable you know
break down it like you’d need to be babied by an engineer or it would not
you can use it so but nonetheless it did get like zero to 60 I think under you
know under 4 seconds – or 40 mile range it was enough to convince you that it
was possible I mean I I knew it was possible because if you go from the
energy density of lead acid to to lithium-ion you’ve got about of 4x
energy that’s the improvement so if you got if you got to say a 60 mile range
with that acid you’re gonna have a battle charter forty mile range with
with lithium ion the same way so better it was it was cool to see it in action
with AC with caution I saw it I tried hard to convince those guys I could
really pass with them a lot to go into to commercialize the the T zero and they
just did not want to do it weirdly the thing they wanted to make was an
electric Scion I’m like you guys nobody’s gonna pay seventy thousand
dollars for an electric Siler okay that was their idea seventy
thousand dollars for an electric Scion I’m like this is not gonna work okay you
will sell like fourteen of these things you know and you know I have like the
email trails at least yeah I mean I think they’re still around so in fact
but III even say listen I even though I think this is the dumbest idea ever
I I will I will pay I will fund one tenth of it if you can find by other
people and I think the only other person I could find your it was Sergei Sergei
Brin so it’s like okay so good and I the only ones going to do this I think and
so they didn’t actually get it off the ground but I said it’s gonna fail I
can’t but if this is something and so then eventually listen if you guys are
not going to commercialize the teaser do you mind if I do it and they’re like no
you have got to be totally fine like okay so I was gonna
like okay so let go do this with with JV and we’ll go commercialize the critic
commercial version of the T zero and then the agent cocconi said well you
know there’s some other people who also want to do it do you want to maybe team
up with them so there were two other groups that wanted to do it and it’s
like okay sure you know this maybe this is a way that I can have my cake and eat
it too you know famous last words never works out damn
try to have your cake and eat it too doesn’t right this one’s gonna be easy I didn’t think it’d be easy but it was
like I thought maybe I can allocate like 20 to 30 hours a week and just work on
parking engineering and then other people could do those stuff but I don’t
even like doing this stuff anyway so that didn’t work out so so that then Tom
Gage said he said there were two teams but I only ever met one and that was
ever hard happening and right but like the thing really bugs me about the
mistake think they ever harder particular the worst guy I’ve ever
worked with and I want to make a note of this he is literally the worst person
I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some real douchebag okay to be
number one takes a lot it’s not easy his version of the story is like is that
out of the blue he pissed me on on fun on finding his electric car company and
and and and he convinced me to do it totally false okay
I was like I’m creating an electric car company it’s like they engaged said well
maybe you could team up I was like okay well that might be a with worth doing
and and so the company ended up being basically five people this is right the
toughening you know of a hard struggle myself
and this was the five of us and the like talking which tries to right right right
out of the history books because they had a huge battle and they made me
choose which one was going to be CEO that’s a right oil or ever hot and
that’s what JBL’s like which one because I really didn’t know one of you CEO so
they’re like okay well let’s both have issues but maybe you’re right has bigger
issues than toughening so JB said so maybe you know lesser of Evil’s like
okay fine I gotta make a choice here because the two of them would not they
would not they refuse to be the same bullying so I was like a lot of drama
but it isn’t so much drama and it’s like okay you know it’s not like the ice is
like less retrievals so it’s like I said in right sorry you know not that I
didn’t think he had good points but I got if I got a pick one and I adore I
was trying not to be CEO or gonna make this rocket company work so okay so then
made you know was like the right you know as I had to leave then anyway so we
got the basically we we jammed AC propulsion power train and battery pack
into a Lotus Elise with the first prototyping like really just jammed it
in you know and and and that in retrospect this was not a good idea
because the the car ended up weighing like 60% more than analyse or on that
order and we didn’t have enough falling you to put the battery pack and we had
to meet or we invalidate it all of the crash tests because the weight
distribution was different it was heavy so now the crash tests were valid
anymore to redo the airbags that air conditioning air conditioner ran off a
belt fan so we now have a belt and so we have to have a new air conditioning
system so to change the HVAC system and so basically in the end only about like
I think six or seven percent of the parts ended up being in common with the
police so and we went through a lot of trouble trying to shoot one everything
in there and it mean it’s a cute car but it’s 10% too small it was like and and
then the cost center of being crazy and yeah and then ya know there was there
was an audit of the costs of the road the the production cost the road stuff
by one of the investors that joined in 2007 and and then they they they called
me up and said hey the the numbers that Martin was telling you there was telling
you about the roads were totally false and I was
like what do you mean like said no we just didn’t ordered there it’s more than
twice of what do you think though makes yeah it’s like we would have to sell
this car for a quarter million dollars in order to make to not lose money like
this is insane so anyway I mean he we all see had to fire ever hard there was
no choice about that I yeah and then it turned out he’d not only had he misled
me directly but instructed others to also lie oh yes when I say like somebody
looks like the worst person who ever worked with
it’s pretty bad so the basics also hadn’t gotten to over to that time so I
was like man I said our choice so like okay I asked where does the name Harris
really guy you know that we brought on is here to
the interim yeah he he ran like a manufacturing company I mean he seemed
pretty smart to put the problems problem but I found what testa was we were
stored up in Silicon Valley building a car that was really manufacturing and
materials engineering and it’s really like all the talent was for you think
there was probably talent you know in Detroit with Japan but if you took any
of those guys in to run Tesla they would run out like a car company and then it
would be destroyed well you can take somebody who’s good not take someone
from a massive company culture and have him do a start-up and yet you couldn’t
find anyone in Silicon Valley who knew who knew enough about making cars and so
we kind of found a middle middle of road one who’s he was in it he was an expert
actually thanks Toronto that’s right for xeu of Flextronics was an investor and
he he agreed to just be coming join us the interim CEO as 2007 yeah but I mean
Tesla was a company you tried so hard not to be CEO of this is misinterpreted
if I said this misinterpret is like I somehow don’t love Tesla which I do it’s
just like try not to go insane with work yeah you can you beat CEO of a real
start-up is 80 hours a week BC of to is 160 hours a week in there only hundred
sixty nine hours or something of sleep six eight hours a week a hundred sixty
eight hours a week so like you just can’t physically do it yeah I mean pain
levels extreme so that’s yeah I mean those tried quite hard not to eat but
had to be no there’s no choice what that hotels were dying so so that you have a
hard cut was fired in July 2007 and it was at the time we didn’t know he’d
instructed other people to lie so we thought he was just
you know it wasn’t as bad but once he left the building then which it turned
out no he’d actually orchestrated this a massive deception which was quite bad so
I yeah yeah well he also said he came up with the name of Tesla Motors motors
which is false that was created by a guy 95 and wrecked and more of it he knows
this because we really like you but where to buy the trade wall exactly so
you can come with the name it was trademark 95 so there’s like those whole
bullshit back story of it but the the guy we almost always had to change the
name of the company because the guy who owned Tesla Motors wouldn’t communicate
with us and so eventually we sent it with a nicest kinda company know who’s
weirdly Martin’s best friend which I don’t understand but mocked happening
super nice guy I like part a lot actually you can’t not like he’s super
nice guy so preserved mark to go sit on the guy supposed to have and not leaving
until I agreed to at least negotiate with us or something he talked to us and
then we were in there buying the trademark for $75,000 yeah no that was a
whole different nightmare but now the HIDTA main guy that took us
10 years to buy that Tesla com domain man it was a it is I think still like a
networking engineer at juniper so yeah there was and that cost was like 10
million dollars yeah that was crazy I just the badges held out was he just
sitting on the domain or was he using it for something it was impossible to know
he wasn’t using it for anything just holding the knee it’s like put our
handle falcon heavy is ambiguous we’re fighting for that one yeah man
that was took us ages by the teszler economy we were gonna have to change the
name to be something else and actually I would the the lead candidate was was
Faraday as the name because it Faraday invented the electric motor and then
Tesla perfected the electric motor with the AC induction motor so is so if we
couldn’t do Tesla would you fire day and then ironically a competitor was later
created Coal Fired on oh yeah China right yeah yeah yeah so did you
guys have a Faraday a logo or anything were you that far down no we don’t
really even have a Tesla logo until later because there’s nine to sell or
anything so the end of the Tesla logo and the Tesla font was done by me
working with basically a a little foam that’s why the Tesla and SpaceX there
are some similarities between the the fonts and that’s because just don’t by
the same people yeah spend a lot of time on the Tesla
SpaceX Ponce

100 thoughts on “Third Row Tesla Podcast – Elon’s Story – Part 1

  1. Timestamps:

    01:21 – Can you talk about the way you engage with customers online?
    03:21 – Why do you like Twitter so much?
    06:32 – What sticks out to you, what makes you laugh?" (talks about his investments)
    Answer somehow get to stocks and money – and economics and other topics..

    12:07 – Example of oligopoly (Candy)
    14:01 – Talking about this location (Gene Wilder's old house) with its solar glass roof
    15:38 – Not enough people understand how Elon tries to make big changes with small products
    16:40 – Marvin the Martian – one of Elon's dogs
    17:03 – Did you always know you wanted to use business to solve problems?
    19:00 – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
    20:25 – 5 things Elon thought would be important when he was in college
    26:23 – Why go and put your money to SpaceX?
    28:32 – Why did you try to get capacitors into EV's back then?

    30:17 – Talks about batteries and competitors
    30:31 – Maxwell
    31:27 – Other car companies batteries
    35:09 – Why was China the place chosen for GF3?
    36:39 – How did Tesla manage to get the first wholly owned car factory in China?
    38:06 – How much have the production hell lessons helped you for the China factory?
    41:44 – What are some of the misconceptions that you'd like to correct?
    43:31 – Share more about your upbringing and why you came to North America.
    53:00 – What did people think about Zip2?
    58:25 – Kimbal Musk turns up (Elon's brother) and talks about zip2
    1:03:45 – Where did you get the technical knowledge to build Zip2?
    1:05:14 – Do you still code?
    1:19:40 – What made you do PayPal after zip2, why not straight into sustainable energy?
    1:28:07 – So what made you part ways with PayPal?
    1:29:31 – You seem to be attracted to crazy ideas, how do you find the courage?
    1:32:57 – You love code but you don't seem to be bullish on Bitcoin, why is that?
    1:33:20 – What did you think when you read satoshi's white paper for the first time? Talks about cryptocurrencies and laws
    1:35:40 – Would there be a direct democracy in Mars? What kind of laws?
    1:41:00 – Elon almost died of malaria in 2000-2001
    1:42:35 – Start of SpaceX
    1:49:30 – Did you think you are going to do dozens of launches a year?
    1:53:45 – Early SpaceX
    1:58:46 – Start of Tesla
    1:59:30 – How Tesla came to be and talk about first electric cars (TZero)
    2:09:00 – Martin Eberhard lied about Tesla numbers, had to be fired

    Thanks to @KnownStrangerr for some of the timestamps above.

  2. This was an awesome interview everyone! Great insights into the early years. There’s so many shorts & haters that think that Elon is an egomaniac, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He just thinks of things logically and tries not to think too much about what detractors think. Good on him. I think a lot of the people who disagree with him base their opinions on a lot of false preconceptions or insufficient data. Sure his companies have had some close calls, but where there’s no risk, there’s no reward. And the things he strives to fix are the things that are most important to our continued existence. How more honourable can you be than that?

  3. This guy is a legend.
    Hard work, Smarts, tenacity & passion.
    Congress take note, if this guy had a hard time becoming a US citizen, change my laws, because it shows they are F** broken.
    This is America & anybody that is willing to work hard learn & pitch in should be welcomed here.
    I don't care how they look sound or pray.
    Such people belong here.
    Our ancestors fought & gave their life for this cause.
    Let Freedom Ring –
    "Stand beside her & guide her through the night with a light from above🇺🇲"

  4. This is a great interview! So interesting listening to Elon and seeing how he thinks and learn how he came to accomplish the impossible. Electric cars and private space company. No one would believe it could be done. Thanks. Looking forward to part 2. Your team is great. Congratulations on getting this interview with Elon. So much better than a typical media interview. So glad I invested in Tesla a great company

  5. Amazing interview guys. Maybe its just me but always seeing your faces in sides distracted me from what Elon was saying. Great work again 🙂

  6. Thanks guys, felt like I was at the table all the way from Australia. Great questions, great answers, just felt relaxed and natural.

  7. 1:27:18 this is literally what is finally happening now in the UK as part of the fintech industry, see Monzo, Starling, Revolut. Elon would have created that industry more than 10 years ago if he had stayed with Paypal, instead Paypal now is still doing the same shit.

  8. Wow! All of my favorite Tesla heads land the ultimate interview, together with Elon!
    Congratulations and thanks for this super cool interview. This is massive!

  9. Thanks for the podcast, Love you Elon. I feel better about Gigafactory 3 I have known people to lose all their IP in that market. Know someone big who gave them all IP to build a DDC controller and found the product online for less than they were paying for it.

  10. He is so knowledgable, he has such comprehensive knowledge in pretty much everything, software, engineering, physics, chemistry, biology, law, politics, economy, history, finance etc. Learnt so much from this podcast, thanks for uploading.

  11. These two videos will probably be requested by the Smithsonian Inst someday and linked from Wikipedia, great job trying to give Elon some human being space

  12. Such a great interview, love the enthusiasm of everyone. This strangely felt like when you meet your teacher outside of school, and realise they are just a normal person.

  13. Amazing podcast, great to hear Elon Musk talk and not getting interrupted by you guys and yeah, super awesome, thanks for this podcast from a fellow Tesla&SpaceX fan all the way from Kosovo. Cheers and much love

  14. Now I finally get it. He didn't need to code at night because the website was running during the day. He coded at night (added new features to the website's code) because he was doing other stuff during the day (business), but this shouldn't be related to deployment. Otherwise he'd been just too stupid to be true.

  15. Somebody at tesla asset management team…
    Please take note.
    Study n loose a few nights of sleep not to the point of death but to a point of eureka to show u r valuable to elon n for ev…
    The 2 ways of doctors apply waiver forms n how airlines does…
    Find a middle way where its not allowed to sue fsd for new car smell but also compensate for death of entire fam if its due to lack of software or connection or latency that could be traced back to the chip.meet in the middle.but my advise.make it like airline do not remove the pilot who needs the job to feed his wife n kids. Half auto half human.a sophisticated electronic assistance but not making humans uber or truck drivers or humans obsolete.meet in the middle.u can reduce death n assist but u cant eliminate road accidents to zero or human death to zero.its not a wise goal.this life is destined to be temporary to make way for a better one. Sun has birth n death date so does each humans.work around the nasty new exposed laws of playground mocking sueing loophole but back up with waiver.
    Good luck, may the force be with you.

    "Online Waiver and Release of Liability – How it Works" https://www.waiversign.com/online-waiver

  16. Epic Cash brought me here! Finally Elon opens up about his thoughts on cryptocurrency and its not what I expected – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxmO_QuD4Do&feature=youtu.be&t=5578 ! Just because something is private it does not mean its illegal… Go Tesla!

  17. NO
    The best way we can help the environment is not buying an EV, the best way us to GET POLITICAL and change our leaders. Burying and EV and going solar is great though.

  18. Awsome podcast, just wanted to put this in your ear, I am sure you have heard about this battery that IBM is "supposedly" discovered. Have you heard anymore about it? If anyone would know It would be your crew, Keep up the good work! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEQuAF6FUW0

  19. Very Interesting Talk!
    Another Time I must say, I fully agree with Elon.
    We have to change to sustainable Energy, that is not only a Question of the
    Climate and Co2 Discussion.
    It is a Question of having a sustainable Economy, that is more suitable for our Future.
    In Germany there are People that are not able, to Imagine, that Co2 and Climate is only a small Piece of Arguments to
    make the Change. And because of that, they are bashing People like Greta Thunberg and others.

  20. Come on Third Row Teslea!! AMAZING interview, but change the THUMBNAIL, and your TITLE sounds like your going to talk ABOUT him not WITH him. I know your relying on word of mouth to spread the word, but its far more responsible on your behalf to get the message out there with max reach. Thumbnail: Elon’s Face TITLE: “Elon talks about… at home” done x

  21. Such a great talk, you really get to know Elon and his family a little better, not just the usual business interview. 👍

  22. Great interview, thanks! And great philosophical question also : "Why do you not stop starting risky projects, while you should have enough money for a lifetime?". The simple answer would be, because someone like Elon Musk would never stop, even without that monetary gratification. It does help him to do things he wouldn't be able to do without, yes. But he would not stop working and being motivated to help change the Industrie even without. It shows something really interesting, which is money is not needed to achieve innovation and growth. Innovators will anyway do it. It should help us, in my mind, to define our society in the future in a way where we do not allow a single person do get an income several thousands of times higher compared to the average. While at the same time help innovators to get venture capital for their ideas, of course. But there is no need to have extremely rich people from a motivation perspective. 😉 And that would solve a couple of very important issues we have today. Sustainable industries and lifestyles are one important thing, but fair income conditions for all is another. Doesn't mean everyone should have the same income, not at all. But the differences don't need to be that extreme.

  23. Wow the Eberhard guy really is something else… There's actually videos claiming he was hugely responsibly for the success of Tesla, which is obviously impossible anyway because he was never there long enough

  24. This is the format that cuts the BS, definitively the best interview ive seen on You Tube. Im Tesla share holder, Model S owner 5 years, and engineer in auto world wide 35 years. Big time supporter of engineers who work from first principals and data. The world needs more CEOs who focus on whats right and are this perceptive……"EV2" lol funny too, comes over as a genuine guy no wonder hes gonna win he deserves too and we all do with him.

  25. Communism doesn't mean statism. Your monopolies also have friendly competition inside their institutions. Your typical red team blue team dynamic.

  26. Elon gets really fired up on technical staff. I wonder, what would happen, if he could dive deep talking with an engineer.

  27. Elon is as humble as he is brilliant and you can tell he struggles a lot with simplifying explanations for people to grasp just parts of what he tries to explain. His mind is racing at the speed of light and has to slow down for everyone around him to try to make sense of his vision. I only wish there were more gutsy, visionary and practical people like him.

  28. Elon went through an existential crisis when he was 12 me I'm 28 just realizing that leaving a legacy is pointless

  29. What I like about Elon is that if you bring it down to the basics he’s a visionary that is kind and wants to advance technologies to benefit everyone. It’s not always easy to be diplomatic and stay the course but he makes it work.

  30. 18:05 When you come to the realization that all the intelligent people capable of foresight don't end up working government jobs and it all makes sense finally.

  31. Man. I dont know why, but i get this Jesus and his Apostles vibe here. Somewhat magical realising history is being written right here, right now.

  32. Elon ' people think i'm an investor im not an investor '
    Adriana: ' yes u r'
    Elon ' no im not '
    Adriana ( in a teasing robotic Wikipedia voice ) ' investor: Someone who invests his $ in a company bank business or congolomerate'
    Elon ' yeah but i only invest in tesla n spacex n musk foundation'
    Adriana:~ slaps her own forehead shook her head n prayed god to give her patience … 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🙈

  33. After 15 years of denial i think in 2020 he will finally admit… the 1st step is to admit that u r an investor…. n it can only get better from here… we know elon… everybody knows we just didnt want to hurt your feelings… u were sooo consumed by your investing n we didnt want u to get upset but i think its time to come clean. The 1st step is to admit that u r an investor… 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 i should be a comedian lol 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 u guys if u dont read this u r at loss… 🤣🤣🤣🤣 u could be laughing right now 🤣🤣🤣🤣 i love elon musk the denial investor selling not a flame thrower.hhehehe

  34. You won't find any other ceo or owner of big company being so humble and humane and happy as Elon Musk… thank you Elon for being great human…
    Just watch cybertruck reveal his reactons are so normal and spontanious and revealing in china also that dance though amazing hahah

  35. Congratulations on delivering the best interview with Elon Musk out there. Can't wait for part 2! Although, too many hosts at the table…

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