Founders Podcast #1 - Elon Musk

These are my personal notes on this episode of the Founders podcast, which I'd highly recommend, being one of my favourite podcasts exploring the biographies of notable people, past and present.


  • He first sold Zip2, and made $22m personally
  • He dumps most of the money into Paypal, and that company sells in three years for $1.3b (total, not his personal stake)
  • He then threw $100m into SpaceX, $70m into Tesla, and $10m into SolarCity
  • Elon feels that the number of people who want him ‘gone’ is growing more and more, and that he faces a real security threat
  • Very ambitious visions are the rallying cry to attract people who are talented and ambitious
  • He travels around a lot, and works on different companies on different days
  • He is not put down by set-backs
    • When he tried to buy rockets from Russia, he had his offer declined. He then used all of the knowledge he had built up through learning about how these rockets work to determine that he could build one within budget himself, from scratch, by putting all of the component parts together
    • He didn’t allow himself to wallow in the set-back, he was already working to resolve it on the plane journey home


  • Risk: He put nearly all of his personal capital from acquisitions of his companies back into new companies that he was building. I don't believe most people would have done this
  • Dealing with stress: from someone who knew him well in the past - 'I've never seen anyone with his ability to take pain'. In 2008 in particular, he was being trashed by the press, his ex-wife was openly criticising him, and both of his companies were close to bankruptcy, and yet he was able to remain focused and make clear decisions.
  • Empathy: he is often seen to be aloof or uncaring, but some consider him to be empathetic towards humanity as a whole, rather than to individuals.