Profile of Paypal and SpaceX cofounder and Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk


(Photo by Brian Solis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License)

The February issue of GQ profiles Elon Musk, the 31 37-year-old cofounder of Paypal and SpaceX and the chairman of Tesla Motors.

But this Monday afternoon is special, thanks to Tesla. October has just proven to be the single worst month for the auto industry in twenty-five years. Despite being a new kind of company making a new kind of car, Tesla isn’t immune from what is ailing Detroit. People aren’t buying cars, period, much less $109,000 electric sports cars with a 244-mile range -— a fact not lost on the venture capitalists Tesla relies on for financing. In recent weeks, Musk has had to close Tesla’s engineering office in Michigan, lay off 20 percent of the company’s staff (mostly from the Michigan office but also from the Silicon Valley headquarters), and announce a significant production delay in Tesla’s Model S—the $57,000 sedan that Musk (and those venture capitalists) have been hoping will broaden the company’s client base.

Yet more: That announcement about the S has nearly coincided with another, on the blog of Elon’s wife, the fantasy novelist Justine Musk, that he has left her and their five boys (4-year-old twins and 2-year-old triplets) for a 23-year-old English actress named Talulah Riley. (“By all accounts she is bright and sweet and of course beautiful, and about as personally responsible for the death of my marriage as she is for the dynamic that played out inside it. In other words, not very,” Justine wrote. “Also, she is not blonde, and I do find this refreshing.”) And about a week after that, a Tesla employee leaked information to a popular Silicon Valley blog about how low morale at Tesla had sunk, and revealing the proprietary fact that the company—which has taken more than a thousand deposits from buyers who haven’t yet received their Roadsters—was down to its last $9 million in liquid reserves. The same day the blog item appeared, Musk issued a statement confirming the $9 million figure while announcing his intention to bolster Tesla’s cash with at least $20 million in additional financing. Then, in search of the leaker, he sent a computer-forensics team to seize and search the computers of various employees. The only redeeming pieces of news about Tesla? Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and George Clooney are all having their Roadsters delivered this week.

Elon Musk profile in GQ


  1. in search of the leaker, he sent a computer-forensics team to seize and search the computers of various employees.

    Way to fix a morale problem, particularly for the people he’s nominated as suspects (if that’s what really happened.) Shame Tesla’s been less successful (so far) than SpaceX.

  2. You would think the person who helped build things like Paypal and Tesla motors would be less of a prat, but….

    power and money, still corrupting since the dawn of time…

    And the icing on the cake is dropping his wife, uber prat.

  3. Five kids by age 31? And now he’s leaving them? Guy’s got bigger problems now than those in his business….

  4. I sense a new rule of thumb. Anyone who designs a sports car with no camber or toe-in probably has other unsavory habits.

  5. I do have to point out that he is 37.

    I think this tempers his achievements, and gives me a little time to catch up. I mean, be fair – most of us who were broke at 31 will have made hundreds of millions of dollars by the time we are 37.

    Also, can we not have some meta-discussion about the note of his divorce sourced from a blog article in a GQ article that also incorporates a face-to-face meeting?

    I thank you.

    1. can we not have some meta-discussion about the note of his divorce sourced from a blog article in a GQ article that also incorporates a face-to-face meeting?

      How about a discussion about his wife’s meta-comment about the floozy’s hair color?

  6. How about a discussion about his wife’s meta-comment about the floozy’s hair color?

    Ex-wife, thank you. :)

    I don’t know, can I comment on the comment about the comment sourced from my blog for a GQ article I never knew about? Just how meta are we allowed to get around here?

    (….couldn’t resist.)

  7. This is so depressing. Tesla Motors was probably this generation’s best hope for an electric car, and now they’re at death’s door because they couldn’t get their shit together fast enough. Imagine if they had cars rolling off the assembly line during the record high gas prices last year.

    Who wants to guess whether they get any of that sweet, sweet bailout money with the rest of Detroit?

  8. no it wasn’t. The best hope of an electric car is a bloody golf cart. It fills 90% of city needs and should have happened fifty years ago.

  9. @#13 karmic90, given that this Boing Boing post is about you and your life (or at least one very personal and very public chapter of it), I’d say you have free rein to say whatever the hell you want around here.

  10. yeah right, people will buy a luxury electric (with no camber or toe in) for over a hundred g’s, as opposed to 5K for to and from work. There’s a LOT more poor folk than rich idiots. (57K “economy” ! pah!)

  11. Takuan: Maybe you haven’t noticed, but golf carts have actually been in existence for some time now and people haven’t shown any willingness to use them for commuting except in a few small communities.

    I have no illusions that Tesla’s big ticket roadster was likely to become a best-seller among the middle class either, but if they managed to hang around long enough one of their successive models might have been.

  12. @Ernunnos: Top Gear tested the Tesla on their track, and it did pretty well, all things considered. I assume you have some good reasoning that the car needs more suspension tuning, rather than just thinking that more negative camber is teh betterer, like many boy racers. They could be trading cornering for rolling resistance, since they did go that way with the tires, apparently.

  13. if the complicit, corrupt governments hadn’t bent over for the oil/Detroit lobbies to destroy any alternatives, yes they would have been on the road decades ago.

  14. We want to buy something for my wife to commute in, but the low speeds are an issue even around town where the averae speeds are 30 to 40 mph. The problem with golf carts is they are limited to around 15 mph or so, due to the lack of safety features. Other street legal electric vehicles are limited to 25 MPH, due to a lack of airbags, etc. Three wheeled vehicles get around these restrictions, because they are considered motorcycles, this is why you see so many three wheelers. Three wheel electrics generally top out around 40. The cost is high considering the lack of creature comforts and low survivability. We can get a decent used car for less than an electric three wheeler and feel safe carrying the kids.

  15. what about the other 29 companies listed in #26?

    Or, when the Cheney Depression really bites down, what about all those Makers hacking gas buggies into usable, cheap electrics? When it becomes physically dangerous to be seen driving an SUV,then you will have your cheap electrics.

  16. Don’t get me wrong, I very much wish we had a safe electric vehicle. I even tried to get my wife to buy a three wheeled semi-enclosed motorcycle that got great mileage.

  17. about those three wheeled electric cars/motorcycles: They are about as safe as a three wheeled office chair and there is a reason why office chairs have five wheels.

  18. the last page of that article makes this guy out to be the saviour of all humankind!

    and the whole thing is like the bio of the cleverest person ever.

    ‘glowing profile’ and then some

  19. Takuan: I’m a big fan of public transit and small vehicles. I take the light rail to work every day and I ride an old Vespa for short trips around town. I also agree that we would have had electric cars years ago if it weren’t for the combined efforts of Detroit, Big Oil, and their various lobbyists. So on all that, we are in agreement.

    All I’m sayin’ is that most Americans will never give up their gas guzzlers for a golf cart, but they might have traded them in for something built by a company like Tesla Motors.

  20. #28 posted by Takuan , January 22, 2009 4:24 AM

    what about the other 29 companies listed in #26?

    OK, I’ll bite. Which one of those companies do YOU think represents a better chance for a mainstream electric car than Tesla Motors did? I read through the whole list and most aren’t building cars that could be driven on American highways even if they were sold here.

  21. Brainspore, I don’t think anyone should be driving on highways. We need public transportation for inter-city travel and a combination of public and private transportation within cities, using small electric cars and scooters.

  22. governments have to be forced to change road-worthiness laws that were written in Detroit.
    A start would be penning Limited Speed Electric Vehicle laws for every major city. Electric/bike/motorcycle lanes, free parking or half price at least or tiny spots gas buggies can’t use, force government and large corporate fleets to be 50% electric, insurance breaks, integrated rail “ferries” where you drive your electric on and off a train for city/country commutes, relaxed kit-car road licencing, easier import laws initially to encourage domestic manufacturers to get their rear in gear (NOT the reverse – any people anywhere will always buy tribal first if the choice is realistic), there is a million immediate ideas.

    As to what I would buy from the list? Good question, I’ll get back to you.

  23. If you’re looking for a cheap electric vehicle, I like the Aptera or the electric Smart. The Aptera is three-wheeled, so in some places it will be considered a motorcycle according to law, though common sense will consider it a car.

    Maybe S. Musk will hate us for posting competitor’s links into his profile, but after all the Tesla is in a much higher price range, and Tesla is the company that developed the electrics for the electric Smart.

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