Yeah, probably not the cleverest of titles. And in case you weren’t sure, yes, this post is about Elon Musk.
If you ask me, I will not deny it, and if you ask Mrs. Wine, she will insist that I have the world’s biggest man crush on Elon Musk. I actually, however, don’t think crush is the appropriate way to describe my inordinate attention towards him. It varies between fascinated admiration and obsession and where I land on that small spectrum depends upon the news of the day.
In case you missed the news of the day, Elon Musk just passed Warren Buffet on the richest person in the world list (now at 7th worldwide). Why? Because Tesla, which Musk owns 20% of, is now the world’s most valuable auto company.
But his wealth isn’t why I am fascinated/obsessed with him. It is because I believe, quite firmly, that there is no one else on earth right now who will influence the next couple hundred of years of human history more than Elon Musk.
In case you breezed past that, read it again. It is a pretty strong statement. Why do I feel that way?
- E-commerce. E-commerce has changed the global economy. Think of the recent pandemic when the world economy nearly shut down. How much of the consumerism of our world shifted nearly entirely to online shopping, or e-commerce. Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to say he invented e-commerce. But he did start a company known as X.com which later became Paypal. And Paypal is one of the leaders in e-commerce.
- Domestic Transportation. It is incredibly hard to start an automobile company. There is R & D (Mrs. Wine was a mechanical engineer for a global auto company working at their R&D company, so I’m not speaking merely from theory here). Then there is assembly. Shipping. Sales and distribution. An enormous amount of capital. A lot of expertise and know how. And then of course there is the established market that you have to compete with: Ford, Chevy, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai. Companies like that, with factories all over the world, that–if you want to start an automobile company–you have to compete with after you’ve established the whole R&D–>distribution chain. Elon Musk started a company called Tesla, an electric car company, in 2003. 17 years later it is a company with factories around the world and is literally (if you clicked the link above you’d know) the world’s most valuable car company.
- Batteries. It is important to note that Tesla states it isn’t a car company, but a battery company that makes cars. Hence, the Giga Factories that Tesla is building around the world. In case you aren’t aware: those are huge factories devoted to building batteries and power storage devices.
- Powerwalls. These are home storage devices that take solar energy, store the energy collected domestically in an individual home, and then provide power. This technology is important because of the potential for their potential in the field of utilities.
- Grid Power. In 2016, South Australia experienced a rolling blackout. It was problematic in a global, news making way. Musk tweeted that Tesla could fix it in less than 100 days or it was free. In 40 days they had installed a power system to provide energy to the entire province. As the magainze Popular Mechanics reported in March, 2020, “Musk’s Battery Farm is an Undeniable Success” and has saved Australia 10s of millions of dollars.
- Domestic Solar Power. Tesla is offering solar powered shingles that look aesthetically as better than typical shingles but generate power for the home. Coupled with a Powerwall pack and a Tesla car a homeowner has the ability to, through the sun, power your entire house and car without using any other energy sources.
- Remember, all of this is his car company. But wait, there’s more. An air filter/HVAC system for your home. Caveat: this is purely speculative at this point. But Tesla cars are considered to have the best air filters on the market, better than some home systems. Musk has entertained the idea of Tesla manufacturing HVAC systems with an air filtration system that produces air clean enough for people with extreme allergies. Again, speculative at this point.
- Commercial Transportation. Tesla is also manufacturing, large scale, electric semi-trucks. Companies like Fedex, are already reserving theirs.
- Ford F-150. The most reliable, best selling vehicle out there is facing competition from Tesla’s upcoming “cybertruck.”
- Mass Transit. In 2012 Musk suggested the creation of a mass transit system of high speed pods (think of the bank transfer pods) that work on magnets. He stated he was too busy to focus on it but through it out there in case anyone else wanted to. Musk called this system “Hyperloop“. There are now multiple companies pursuing this technology, as well as multiple municipalities (such as Columbus, Ohio) spending a lot of money, trying to develop this concept. Think about that for a minute: a) Musk suggested a technology/concept that has created multiple companies globally trying to develop it and b) he thought of it. It is important to remember, as you’ll see, his brain is the principle behind all of these technologies.
- Space Exploration. There is this company called SpaceX that Musk founded. And if you read the story of its founding it is mind blowing. He went to Russia with 10 million to buy some rockets. The Russians wouldn’t sell them. So on the plane ride home he developed the business model for SpaceX centered on its revolutionary technology: reusable rockets. SpaceX has become the first private space exploration company to launch multiple rockets into space repeatedly (that is re-usability) and also launch civilians into space. I’m getting tired of linking these things. Just use Google. Oh yeah, that was founded in 2002. So in the past 18 years, Musk has created the first private space company to send people into space AND the most profitable auto company in the world.
- Global high speed internet. If you follow SpaceX, then you’ll know their goal is to colonize Mars. And if you have followed them from the beginning, then you’ll know their plan was to cover earth in small satellites, and then create a link of satellites to Mars so that the people on Mars and Earth can have near real time communication. Out of that is born Starlink: SpaceX’s global internet company that will, supposedly, supply global internet at a speed not yet known.
- Interstate Travel. I’m not sure how to classify this one, but I’m speaking of the Boring Company. Stuck in traffic one day, Musk decided to build a company that would build roads underground for high speed transit. This was in 2016. Since that time, The Boring Company has improved the technology of tunnel boring machines (TBM) and is building tunnels under Las Vegas with other municipalities looking at utilizing the technology and concept.
- Construction material. The Boring Company developed technology to turn the left over dirt into lego like bricks that can withstand seismic activity. Nothing has been done with this but indulge me for a minute: The Boring Company produces bricks to build a home, with Tesla solar panels on the roof and a powerwall inside as well as the Tesla HVAC and you have a home built by Tesla/Boring company that is made from recycled dirt and powered by the sun.
- A.I. Musk has a company, rarely reported on, known as OpenAI. It is dedicated to developing AI that is friendly towards humanity.
- Medical. Finally, there is Neuralink. The company Musk created to develop human/AI symbiotes. Defined by their mission statement: “if we can’t beat em, join em.” Currently, the company is focused on developing chips to help people with Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases.
So let’s survey the field: in the last 20 years Musk has create companies that have changed or influence: ecommerce, domestic travel, commercial travel, power/utility/grid, interstate travel, space travel, medical equipment, AI and construction. I probably left something out of the summary of the above list but you get it. Who else is influencing the world like Elon Musk?