When Elon Musk was in London for the launch of the Tesla Model S in the United Kingdom he did an interview with the BBC's (British Broadcasting Corporation) Business Daily podcast. He talked with Business Daily correspondent Justin Rowlett about Tesla, SpaceX, and his early career on the internet. It was a pretty interesting and I was surprised by what he said later in the interview.
“I like working on technology that will have a positive effect on the world. You know, stuff that is going to matter and if we don't solve it there could be some bad outcome for out future, the future of humanity. When we started SpaceX, and Tesla in particular, I didn't think either of them particularly would succeed.”
Justin Rowlett, the interviewer, than asked, “So you imagined both of them would fail when you started them?”
“I thought that was the most likely outcome… Initially I thought I'll take half the money and I'll keep the other half, and this other half will probably be lost and then I'll still have the other half. That was my initial thought, but then the company's needed much more money than originally anticipated and of course we had the big recession in 2008. Well, I could either keep the money, and the company was definitely going to die, or invest what I have left and maybe there is a chance.”
Elon Musk also discussed the early days of the internet and how nobody really thought it would go anywhere at the beginning of the interview.
“When I started Zip2 which was in the summer of 95, nobody had made any money on the internet. It wasn't some land of riches or something like that. Most people didn't know what the internet was including Silicon Valley. We tried getting funding from venture capitalists and most of them had never used the internet. If they had used the internet they were convinced nobody would ever make any money on it. So our initial goals with Zip2 were quite modest, would we ever be able to make enough buy to eat and pay for rent? That was our goal in the beginning.”
If you would like to listen to the whole interview with Elon Musk, visit the BBC Business Daily podcast page. The Elon Musk interview was posted on June 9th, 2014 and is titled “Elon Musk: Space and Electric Cars.” Be aware that the BBC only keeps podcast available 30 days after airing.
Let me know what you think about entrepreneurship and failure. Is that just part of the game? Especially with innovative companies like Tesla and SpaceX?