Book Review: Elon Musk

book cover imageVance, Ashlee. Elon Musk: Tesla, Space X, and the quest for a fantastic future. Ecco, 2015.

Celebrity entrepreneur Elon Musk is known for his vision, intensity and drive — and for his accomplishments in four different industries: finance (PayPal), automotive (Tesla), aerospace (SpaceX) and energy (Solar City). Technology journalist Ashlee Vance tells the story of Musk, his life and career, his successes and failures, beginning with his difficult childhood in South Africa.

The successes are legendary. After Musk sells his first company Zip2 in 1999, Musk takes his $22 million to start a new venture,, which merges with Confinity to become PayPal. After PayPal is sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, Musk again uses his personal funds to underwrite three new startups. The best known, Tesla Motors, is more than a high end all-electric car. As Musk distributes recharging stations worldwide, he is creating a new transportation system. Another Musk-owned company, SpaceX, designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets, and aspires one day to enable humans to travel to Mars. And Solar City is the largest installer of solar panels for consumers and businesses.

Author Ashlee Vance portrays Musk as a complicated man — arrogant and confrontational, daring and flamboyant, hardworking and demanding. He is insensitive to his employees, yet his companies deliver products that industry leaders assumed were impossible. On paper, Musk is a wealthy man, yet occasionally his finances are near collapse. According to Vance, Musk foresees that human survival depends on establishing a colony on another planet and Musk is dedicating his life to realizing this. Critics dismiss Musk as a crazy star-gazer, but he is passionate about cars, global warming and interplanetary travel and his companies are succeeding.

This portrait of Elon Musk, the innovator and the man, is recommended.

This book is also available on the Business Bestsellers Kindles in the Ford Library, as an ebook on OverDrive, and as an audiobook on CD.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply