I have fretted for a number of years journalists at major newspapers and magazines have become pre-occupied with consumer tech, and ignore more complex innovation that happens at GE or Boeing or Corning.
One exception is Ashlee Vance at BusinessWeek. I take time to read his stories and have exchanged thoughts with him every so often. He told me last year he was working on a book on Elon Musk, and knowing his style I knew it would not be simple hero worship.
The book is out, and while it appears flashy like much that comes out of Silicon Valley and the LA area where Musk’s companies, Tesla and SpaceX are based it explores gritty operational and other details and presents lots of gory details of the complex man that is Musk.
“He’s set about building something that has the potential to be much grander than anything Hughes or Jobs produced. Musk has taken industries like aerospace and automotive that America seemed to have given up on and recast them as something new and fantastic. At the heart of this transformation are Musk’s skills as a software maker and his ability to apply them to machines. He’s merged atoms and bits in ways that few people thought possible, and the results have been spectacular. It’s true enough that Musk has yet to have a consumer hit on the order of the iPhone or to touch more than one billion people like Facebook. For the moment, he’s still making rich people’s toys, and his budding empire could be an exploded rocket or massive Tesla recall away from collapse. On the other hand, Musk’s companies have already accomplished far more than his loudest detractors thought possible, and the promise of what’s to come has to leave hardened types feeling optimistic during their weaker moments.”
And there is plenty of humor
“A word of warning: There’s going to be a lot of “fuck” in this book. Musk adores the word, and so do most of the people in his inner circle.”
Get yourself a copy to understand this modern day Hughes, Jobs, Ford and Medici rolled in one.