What’s up, believe nation!
I started the Did You Know series to learn a little bit more about some of our famous entrepreneurs, our favorite ones, to learn what makes them tick, to find a couple of surprising facts that maybe you haven’t heard before. And so, today we’re going to learn nine surprising facts about Elon Musk.
9 SURPRISING FACTS about Elon Musk
Fact #1: He almost went broke trying to save Space X and Tesla
We used up all the, invested 100 million, then still needed more money. And then there was a big recession of 2008 and ’09 and in the end, I had to invest everything. And I actually was borrowing money from friends to pay the rent.
Interviewer: You were on the edge of actually bankruptcy.
I didn’t even own a house.
Interviewer: You could have bought an island.
Interviewer: And you could have sipped cocktails for the rest of your life. Why did you want to take the risks involved in these businesses that you’ve gone in to?
Well, I have to say at times I’ve wondered. I wondered if it was really the right choice. But it has actually been a very difficult journey, I have to say. But I think, there’s certain important things that we must do in order for the future to be good. We must have sustainable energy. If we don’t have that, the future’s going to be terrible.
Interviewer: Were you a little naive when you thought, I can easily build an electric car in a rocket?
I didn’t think it would be easy. Like, I said, I thought they would probably fail. But creating a company is almost like having child. So it’s sort of like, how do you say your child should not have food?
Interviewer: So once you have the company, you have to feed it and nurse it and take care of it, even if it ruins you.
Interviewer: But there was some tough times in 2008. End of 2008. How did you get through that period of crisis?
Yeah. Could we just break for a second?
Interviewer: Sure, sure, sure. Of course, yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Did you think, I need to pack this in?
Interviewer: Why not?
I don’t ever give up. I mean, I’d have to be dead or completely incapacitated.
Fact #2: Steve Jobs was rude to him.
Interviewer: Steve Jobs was and is a wonderful Silicon Valley icon. Is he someone that you’ve admired and what have you learned from Steve’s life and work?
Well, he’s certainly someone I’ve admired. Although I did try to talk to him once at a party, and he was super rude to me. But I don’t think it was me. I think it was par for the course.
Interviewer: I think you weren’t the first one.
Yeah, not the first, no. But, yeah, it’s actually, Larry Page is an old friend of mine. I’ve known since before he got venture funding for Google. And Larry was the guy that introduced me to Steve Jobs. So it’s not like I’m going and tugging on his coat, like, please talk to me.
So, I was introduced by Larry Page, that’s not bad, so. But, I mean, obviously he was an incredible guy and made fantastic products that, and there was a certain, the guy had a certain magic about him. That was really inspiring. So I think that’s really great.
Interviewer: Is it that magic that you try and emulate?
No, I think Steve Jobs is way cooler than I am, so.
Fact #3: He once shredded a $1 million uninsured F1 McLaren.
Not really, no, actually, and I never did. Although that was one of the things that was sort of talked about at one point, but I never did. In fact, I’ve never raced anyone with the MClaren. I had it for several years. I put 11,000 miles on it, and I drove it from L.A. to San Francisco, and it was my daily driver, which is crazy car to have as a daily driver, particularly on the 405.
Interviewer: So, but I understand when you got it-
Interviewer: You’re driving down 280 and you wrecked it.
Elon: No, well-
Interviewer: Let me just tell the story, and then you can correct it.
Interviewer: ‘Cause the story’s great, and I hope it’s true.
Yeah, let’s see if the story that you tell is actually how that compares to the reality, ’cause the reality is pretty messed up.
Interviewer: Hopefully the reality’s better. So, you wreck the car. You get out of the car. You’re doubling over with laughter.
Elon: Oh, really?
Interviewer: And the person with you said, “Why are you laughing that you just wrecked this car?” And you said, “No, you don’t know the funny part. “It wasn’t insured.”
Well, the punch line’s correct. Yeah, so I was actually, I was driving up Sand Hill Road with Peter Thiel, one of the co-founder’s of PayPal. We’re actually driving to see Michael Rits. This is in 2000. And so we’re driving up Sand Hill Road.
Didn’t really know how to McLaren. And Peter says, “So, what can this do?” And then I’m probably number one on the list of famous last words. I said, “Watch this.” So I floored and did a lane change on Sand Hill.
And the McLaren has no traction control or anything. It’s just massive power to the wheels. So 640 brake horsepower and it only ways a ton. So it has massive power to weight. It can break wheels free at 80 miles an hour.
So I broke the rear end free and started spinning. And I sort of, let’s see, I think it was sort of, I was going straight and then turned. And I remember seeing the cars coming towards me while I was going backwards.
And then we hit an embankment, sort of a 45 degree embankment on Sand Hill, which tossed the car into the air like a discus, and it kept rotating with about three foot of air clearance according to witnesses. And then slammed down on the ground going the original direction. And it blew the suspension out. Now, it didn’t actually wreck the car. The core which chassis and the engine were okay.
Interviewer: Thank God.
But all the glass and the wheels and everything was shredded. And there was massive body damage to the front and rear. And, yeah.
Fact #4: He has an idea for aal fifth mode of transport, the hyperloop.
I know that there are various companies that are trying to create the hyperloop. And honestly I think it’s a lot easier than people think.
The blueprints are pretty complicated.
Well, blueprints are always kind of complicated, and, I mean, yes, there’s math. But it’s really not that hard.
It still sounds pretty complicated, Elon.
It’s like a tube with an air hockey table. It’s just a low-pressure tube with a pod in it that runs on air bearings, on air skis, with an with an air compressor on the front that’s taking the high pressure air build-up on the nose and pumping it through the air skis. It’s really, I swear, it’s not that hard. .
Fact #5: He considered buying intercontinental ballistic missiles from Russia.
Speaking of crazy things. Went to Russia three times to negotiate a deal to buy a couple of the largest ICBMs in the Russian fleet. A strange experience.
How do you even get into that negotiation?
Well, you talk to people who know people, and pretty soon you’re talking to the Russian rocket forces, and they, turns out Russia’s quite a capitalist society. And, but I’ve definitely had some weird meetings in places I swear that look like a sanitarium or something, I don’t know. It was very odd.
We keep coming back to the theme of crazy.
Yeah, seriously, this place had padded walls. Why do you have padded walls? It was weird. And, yeah, then I had some sort of Russian guy who was missing a front tooth started yelling at me. Because one of his front teeth was missing, it was like spit flying at me in a place with padded walls. I’m like this is really bizarre.
What happens to my life?
And that was the moment when you thought, I’m going to build my own rocket?
Fact #6: Reading “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was a major turning point in his life.
Basically, I sort of was thinking about this when I was bored as a kid, and trying to find some meaning in life, like what’s the meaning of life? And I got quite sort of sad about it, actually, when I was a teenager. And then I read the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”.
Which basically said the real, basically the universe is the answer. And you just need to figure out the questions. So I think, that’s, if I can help kind of figure out the questions, then I’d consider that to be meaningful.
Maybe for the name of the first trip that goes to Mars, not the name of the whole, sort of the ship line or whatever, necessarily, but the first trip that goes to Mars, my current favorite is Heart of Gold, from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. So I think probably we’ll name the first ship that goes to mars Heart of Gold, and I like the fact that it’s driven by infinite improbability because I think our trip is also extremely impossible. So, I like the infinite improbability drive.
Fact #7: He taught himself computer programming at a young age and sold his first program Blast Star for $500.
I was went into a store in South Africa and saw a Commodore VIC-20. And I think I was nine years old, I don’t know, somewhere around that time. And I thought this was the most awesome thing I had ever seen.
And you could write computer programs and make games and I played Atari and other things, other game consoles from when I was maybe six or seven. So the idea of being able to create games I thought was really exciting. I taught myself how to program computers when I was a kid, and bought my first computer when I was 10, and sold my first commercial program when I was 12.
Fact #8: He believes that we’re possibly living in a simulation.
The strongest argument for us being in a simulation, probably being in a simulation, I think is the following. 40 years ago, we had pong. Like two rectangles and a dot. That was what games were. Now 40 years later, we have photo-realistic 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year.
And soon we’ll have virtual reality, augmented reality. If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality. Indistinguishable. Even if that rate of advancement drops by 1,000 from what it is right now.
Then you just say, okay, well, let’s imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future. Which is nothing in the evolutionary scale. So, so given that we’re clearly on our trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality and those games could be played on any set top box or on a PC or whatever. And they would probably be billions of such computers or set top boxes. It would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions. Tell me what’s wrong with that argument?
Is the answer yes?
The argument is probably, is there a flow in that argument? I’m not sure what the error.
No, the argument makes sense. So the assumption then is that somebody beat us to it, and this is a game.
No, there’s a one in billions chance this is base reality.
What do you think?
Well, I think it’s one in billions.
Yeah, I guess.
That seems to be like clearly what it suggests. And, actually, I mean, arguably we should hope that that’s true because otherwise if civilization stops advancing, then that may be due to some calamitous event that erases civilization. So maybe we should be hopeful that this is a simulation ’cause otherwise-
‘Cause they could reboot it.
Well, otherwise, either we’re going to create simulations that are indistinguishable from reality or civilization will cease to exist. Those are the two options.
Fact #9: He once made a guest experience on the Big Bang Theory.
Here you go.
You got to be kidding me.
You’re Elon Musk.
What are you doing here?
I’m washing dishes. Well, I was on the turkey line, but I got demoted for being too generous with the gravy.
Oh, man, what an honor to meet you. I’m such a fan of Tesla and Space X, all your companies. Howard Wolowitz, Caltech.
Nice to meet you, Howard. It feels great to come down here and help the less fortunate, huh?
Oh, yeah. Nothing better than helping people. Which is something I realized when I was viewing Earth from the deck of the International Space Station, where I spent two months as a payload specialist, a job I was qualified for because I’m an MIT trained engineer.
And I thought I ladled the gravy on thick.
Sorry, it’s just, you’re you. And I really want you to adopt me.
Well, you’re here on Thanksgiving, so you’re probably a good person.
Oh, I made my wife come down too.
You think you might ever get back out into space?
Is that a job offer? Because I really want to go to Mars. Assuming I can bring my wife. She hardly takes up any room. She’s basically a carry on.
Well, we’re not quite there yet. But we’re always looking for engineers, so let me give you my e-mail, we can stay in touch.
Oh, look. Someone hardly touched their pumpkin pie. Want to share it with me?
A partially eaten piece of pumpkin pie from a homeless shelter with Elon Musk? You bet I do.
So thank you guys so much for watching. I hope you enjoyed. I’m super curious to figure out which surprising fact was most interesting for you, most surprising for you. Leave it down in the comments below. I’m going to check it out.
Also, what do you think of this series? This is one of our series that’s on the bubble. We’ve done Tony Robbins, we’ve done Bill Gates. We’ve done Kanye West. And this is Elon Musk. And we’re not sure if we’re going to continue the series or not, so I’d love to know what did you like about it? Do you like it? How can we make it better? Share your thoughts down below. Maybe the series will continue or maybe we’ll replace it with something better. Let me know.
Thank you guys again for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is. Much love. I’ll see you soon.