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Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA), SpaceX and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk has a lot to talk about. That’s clear from his recent two-hour appearance on the Third Row Tesla podcast.
Here are a few of the highlights from the show.
China was a critical market for Tesla to tap into, but there was a lot of uncertainty about tariffs and pricing. Fortunately for Tesla, its investment seems to be panning out.
“There’s just so much talent and drive in China that I think it’s a good place to do a lot of things,” Musk said. “The evidence is there in the incredible progress in the factory which was built with very high quality in a very short period of time and the cars coming out of Shanghai are really high quality.”
Musk had visited China multiple times to coordinate the Shanghai launch and kept being told the venture would have to be done through a majority locally-owned venture. He raised concerns about remaining partners, given that Tesla had gotten its start fairly late, and ultimately persuaded China to change its law by citing the ability of Chinese companies to retain full ownership in their U.S. operations.
In 2001, Musk was trying to figure out what to do next and realized NASA had no plans for Mars. He strived to excite the public about Mars in the hopes it would eventually vote to expand NASA’s funding.
“The original idea for SpaceX was just to have a philanthropic mission to Mars,” Musk said. “…It wasn’t ‘let’s create a space company.’ It was ‘how do we get NASA’s budget increase so we can send people to Mars?’”
Mars Oasis strived to get a pot plant to Mars just to prove that it could be done. He traveled to Russia to buy an intercontinental ballistic missile as a base for the project, and he set out to create a reusable rocket.
“It was very hard to recruit people because I had not built any physical hardware before and I kept being called Internet guy for ages,” Musk said. He ended up being chief engineer after failing to recruit established engineers from the likes of Lockheed Martin or Boeing.
After multiple failed launches, SpaceX finally recorded a successful launch in 2008.
After the acquisition of Musk’s Zip2, Musk was disappointed his technology wasn’t being used. He decided to adapt his digital database concept to the financial system.
“At the time I thought we should try to do all the financial things, as well, not just payments,” Musk said. “I still think that’s really what PayPal should have done but whatever, that’s water under the bridge at this point.”