Reviewed by Sarah Ell
Virgin, RRP $28
Elon Musk, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, is a poster boy for the young tech entrepreneurs who now run the world, whether we like it or not.
Technology reporter Ashlee Vance recounts the story behind the persona we see on the news. She delves into Musk’s upbringing in South Africa, his emigration to Canada and then the US. She also zeroes in on his early and spectacular success with dot-coms Zip2 – which, at the age of 28, he made
US$22 million out of selling – and PayPal.
From internet companies, Musk then turned his sights on creating something ‘more lasting’: the colonisation of Mars; the creation of a network of communications satellites to provide worldwide internet coverage; solar energy; and desirable electric cars. More than 400,000 pre-orders have been received for Musk’s newly announced Tesla Model 3, which doesn’t go into production until late next year.
Unusually for this type of biography, Vance has spent a lot of time with Musk. The billionaire’s voice, as well as the people who know him and have worked with him, is well represented. It makes for an exciting and interesting read, although at times you have to shake your head at his sheer audacity and single-mindedness. But it’s not possible to be this successful by being an all-round nice guy.
One thing’s for certain – we have not seen the end of Elon Musk. Read this book, and watch this space. If Musk has his way, one day we’ll all be driving electric cars and holidaying on Mars.