What do people misunderstand about Elon Musk?


Quite a number of things.

That he comes from humble origins, that he grew up poor, that he used to be a starving-but-hardworking entrepreneur, etc

Elon Musk came from a very rich family, started his first business with both sizable loans from his father and a great deal of VC cash, and his further businesses came from the profits he made selling his businesses.

Elon Musk is an Engineer or Scientist

Elon is NOT an Engineer in any sense of the word, nor is he a Scientist. He’s got a bachelors in Physics and one in Economics, which doesn’t qualify him for either of those things, and he doesn’t do the work to be considered either of those things by profession.

Elon Musk designs Tesla Automobiles

Elon Musk designs Tesla Automobiles

He does not. Peter Rawlinson was the Chief engineer of the Model S, working with JB. Straubel, the current CTO. Rawlinson left, and now JB works more with Franz von Holzhausen, an automotive engineer and designer formerly employed by Volkswagen. They design the cars, Elon’s role in the process is basically just signing off – his title of “Product architect” is what we call a “Business card title” – a position in a company that does all it’s work on whoever’s business card that it’s printed on.

Elon Musk designs Rockets

Elon Musk designs Rockets

He does not. His title of CTO of SpaceX is largely perfunctory, and all the actual CTO work is handled by Tom Mueller, the CTO of Propulsion, and an actual rocket engineer.

Elon Musk founded Paypal

He did not. The product Paypal already existed, owned by Confinity, by the time Confinity merged with Musk’s X.com. They renamed the company to PayPal, so you could technically say that he founded Paypal in the sense that he founded the company that eventually called itself Paypal, but that’s some bullshit equivocation for the purposes of PR and we’re all better than that.

Elon Musk Founded Tesla Motors

He did not. He bought Tesla Motors during a period where they already had a working product, and were seeking VC investment to take it to manufacturing at scale. Though as an amusing side note, part of the purchasing agreement was that he would be referred to as a founder by the company.

Elon Musk fired his personal assistant after she asked for a raise, because he found he could do everything she did himself, and never hired a PA again.

Partially true – Musk’s PA at the time, Mary Beth Brown, did ask for a raise, as she was doing a great deal of work, and a lot of it was outside the scope of her title as PA. She felt she should be compensated in step with this. Elon sent her home for two weeks, assigned her tasks(which included everything from onboarding new employees, to negotiation with suppliers, to managing expenditures) to a veritable team’s worth of people, along with sharing Shotwell’s PA for actual Personal Assistant tasks. He then fired MBB when she returned, noting that his life hadn’t been any harder without her – gee, wonder why. He later hired another PA.

Elon is the reason Paypal was a success

Definitely not. In fact, he nearly crashed the company with poor management, and forcing changes to the technology stack that he was explicitly advised against by the engineering and technical team. This resulted in the board firing him, after the engineering team took their concerns to the board while he was on holiday, and was not in a position to stonewall their complaints.

Elon hates advertising, and as a result his companies spend $0 on advertising.

I can’t speak to his personal feelings on advertising, but his companies spend approximately $70 million total per year on advertising, according to SEC filings.

He works 100 hours per week, and that’s why he’s so successful.

While he’s certainly a hard worker, if you’re working 100 hours a week to begin with, something is DRASTICALLY wrong with your process. On top of that, he has said in the past that he counts a lot of time he’s not at work and doing other things as “Working” because he’s “always thinking.” I’ll leave it to you if you consider that working.

Elon Musk VS Steve Jobs

Elon Musk is often compared to Steve Jobs.

However, Musk, himself, considers himself closer to Kanye West than Steve Jobs.

Elon Musk VS Steve Jobs

Kanye West is often criticized by a lot of people. When he speaks his opinions, there is always a lot of backlash.But Kanye said it. That is what’s important.

Tech CEOs tend to “stick with what works”. They work to perfect their public image. Tim Cook’s tweets are robotic. Zuckerberg has a team of people run his Facebook account. Steve Jobs would only show his best moments. Reed Hasting dodges every question about the true future of Netflix.

Steve Jobs presentation

Steve Jobs stood on a stage 5 times a year preaching about Apple innovation and was Apple’s idea-man and their best showman.

Musk has very little in common with other tech CEOs. He funds a company with very little chance of success with $90 million. His tweets will lash out at news media and he will even drunk-tweet. He comes up with the idea and actually works to build Tesla and SpaceX products. Unlike Steve Jobs, he is with Tesla the entire way from the forming of the idea of how to build a new car.

Musk is often publicly attacked for what he says. But he says it.

Unlike Steve Jobs, he doesn’t constantly obsess of how his actions will negatively affect his companies. From publicly shaming news sources to “joking” about going bankrupt, he says a lot of things and they backfire a lot. But he says it.

Elon Musk is not the Steve Jobs of Space. Elon Musk is not the Henry Ford of the electric car.

Elon Musk is the Kanye West of technology.

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What do people misunderstand about Elon Musk?

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