By LAURA LOREK
Founder of Silicon Hills News
At Dell World, Elon Musk discussed how he’s changing the world through electric cars and space exploration.
Musk is a true leader, a risk taker and a visionary, said Michael Dell in his introduction.
“A passionate believer in technology and innovation to lead society forward,” Dell said.
Musk arrived for his keynote address at Dell World at the Austin Convention Center in a bright red Tesla with the song “Baby You Can Drive My Car” blaring from the auditorium speakers.
David Kirkpatrick, founder of Techonomy, interviewed Musk and asked him what motivates him.
Musk, cofounder of PayPal, founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, said he likes technology and things that have the potential to change the world in a positive way.
“There needed to be an acceleration of electric vehicles,” Musk said. “If it was left up to the big car companies we wouldn’t see electric cars, at least not for a long time.”
The movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car” which documents how General Motors crushed the development of the EV1 in the mid-1990s, also motivated Musk to create Tesla, which almost led him into bankruptcy.
Musk recounted how he closed on the financing to keep Tesla in business in the last hour of the last day before he would have to file for bankruptcy. It was Christmas eve in 2008, he said.
“We would have gone bankrupt if we didn’t close the round,” he said.
Musk had put all of his money into Tesla and he even had to borrow money for living expenses from friends. Even though he believed in the company’s mission, he didn’t know whether the company would make it. But he saw a need for electric cars sooner and not later.
To reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the world’s atmosphere, people have to act early, Musk said.
Tesla manufactures about 600 vehicles per week, Musk said. It makes a sports car, which costs more than $120,000 and a luxury sedan.
“I don’t know a rich person that doesn’t have one or want one,” said Kirkpatrick.
Musk also showed a video of highlights from SpaceX, which designs and makes spacecraft and rockets. He splits his time between running SpaceX and Tesla Motors.
“You’re succeeding where governments have failed,” Kirkpatrick said.
Musk said he’s had some good fortune, which has helped him to pursue his ventures. He’s also worked with talented people, he said.
“If you can get a group of really talented people together and unite them around the challenge, and have them work to the best of their abilities, then the company will achieve great things,” Musk said.
Musk has money, which has helped him, Kirkpatrick said. But there are a lot of people with money who don’t have the vision and the will and who don’t apply themselves to change the world like Musk has done, he said.
“I think people self limit more than they realize,” Musk said.
The number one thing people should do is they should just try to innovate, he said. It’s also beneficial to cross-pollinate across different industries, Musk said. That can provide unique insights, he said.
Later in the interview, Dell joined the two on stage. He said the world needs more people like Musk out there taking big risks.
Dell also has a Tesla. He ordered it and one day it just showed up at his house. He enjoys driving it, he said. Dell also had a Tesla on display at its exhibits showcase at the event.
Tesla is a public company, but Musk said he doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the stock price.
“It’s a distraction,” he said.
The stock market is “manic depressive,” Musk said.
Musk also said the public should collectively seek to advance the state of media today. He called mainstream, traditional newspapers, a “microscope on misery.” He said the media seem bent on finding and promoting the worst possible things that happen every day. The news is actually much more positive than what’s portrayed in the daily newspaper, he said.
“I get my news on Twitter,” Musk said.
Dell said he uses news feeds and alerts to stay on top of the news online.