Web2 Conversations: Elon Musk

On the third day of Web 2 next week, I'll be sitting down with Elon Musk. Now, depending on your age and level of interest, Elon is either A) a co-founder of PayPal, b) founder of SpaceX, c) the guy behind Tesla, d) the guy behind Solar City, or…


On the third day of Web 2 next week, I’ll be sitting down with Elon Musk. Now, depending on your age and level of interest, Elon is either A) a co-founder of PayPal, b) founder of SpaceX, c) the guy behind Tesla, d) the guy behind Solar City, or e) the guy behind all four.

Elon is truly a “Web Meets World” kind of guy (and yes, that’s the theme of Web 2 this year).

He’s bringing his Tesla to the event, and participating in our auction to boot. I’m looking forward to what I am sure will be an eclectic conversation, in particular given that later in the day I’ll be talking with Shai Agassi, who has something of a competing auto startup going in Better Place.

TeslaAnd remember that I’m running a contest for best comments: I’ve decided to take three of my personal complementary passes to Web 2 – yes, even the Program Chair only gets so many – and give them to those who comment on my site about these Web 2 conversations. My decisions are entirely subjective, but I plan to pick the three best questions, and reward them with a fress pass – a street value of nearly $4000 each. Yes, commentators from the past five posts are already eligible:

Mark Zuckerberg

Jerry Yang

Larry Brilliant

Paul Otellini

Lance Armstrong

So, what should I ask Elon Musk?

8 thoughts on “Web2 Conversations: Elon Musk”

  1. I would like to ask Elon about how he handles failure. Both for himself and for his team. What do you do when a rocket blows up on the launch pad? When your key automotive parts are flawed yet again, pushing back the first shipments of your product right as you are trying to raise another round.

    What are your metrics for success? How do you handle huge costly failures yet still move on with big goals?

  2. Elon is clearly a staunch free marketeer and one who believes in the liberalization of trade. I’d ask him how, in a society where people actually believe the economic downturn was caused by a *lack* of regulation, he stays positive. How does Elon think this will all pan out? Will we see reactionary implementation of more damaging legislation? How long will any rollback of such laws take – if it ever happens? What’s the future for privatization in a culture that enshrines politics and the idea that every problem is a nut for the government to crack?

    (Sorry, John – couldn’t limit myself!)

  3. What does he think is a good way for the next President to promote and implement technology to fight global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and rebuild the economy?

  4. Your sodding system just ate a long comment: bad system

    1) Is the aspirational/trickle down/luxury-first Tesla play dead in a recession?

    2) How bad do relations with Russia and/or Ares development need to get before Falcon 9?Dragon (COTS with people) picks up serious political/institutional support (and is this only conceivable post-Griffin)

    3) What does he see as the pluses and minuses in a business setting of his pronounced arrogance, and does he expect their balance to shift in a downturn?

    4) How can an Obama administration spend $100 billion on energy jobs and infrastructure without screwing over/crowding out private innovators?

    5) what does he expect his net worth to be in 10 years (a probability distribution is fine…)

  5. I must plainly say that I know very little about these projects (well, I have discussed the economics of energy with my father for decades, but that is, perhaps, more “academic” than these).

    Is there any simple statistic that is used to plainly convey the impact each of these technologies have? (and here I mean something that the vast majority of the population could easily understand, not something like “higher mathematics” 😉

  6. “So, what should I ask Elon Musk?”

    How about…

    100% electric
    0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds
    14,000 rpm redline
    Burns no oil
    244 miles per charge
    Pennies per mile

    So why exactly are we seeing headlines like:

    “Electric carmaker Tesla plans big round of layoffs” (Los Angeles Times, October 25)

    What’s missing?

  7. With photo-electric cells and batteries we have achieved a percent of inspiration, but we still need that ninety-nine percent of perspiration. How are you innovating these technologies?

  8. Why has Tesla gone through four CEOs in two years, and why do you continue to disparage the founder and former CEO of Tesla, Martin Eberhard?

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