It’s going to take some more time before we know for sure if Elon Musk is the second coming of Steve Jobs. But one thing we know for sure now is that – for the media, at least – the new has replaced the old.
Consider just a recent sampling of the news stories – some tied to the release of Ashlee Vance’s new biography about Musk – focused on the man behind Tesla Motors, PayPal, SpaceX and SolarCity. The book is entitled Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.
- In previewing the book, Daniel Sparks in the Motley Fool cites a statement that easily could have applied at Jobs.
“History has demonstrated that while Musk’s goals can sound absurd in the moment, he certainly believes in them and, when given enough time, tends to achieve them,” Vance writes.
- Matt McFarland of The Washington Post, meanwhile, took the time to focus on 22 Musk quotes from Vance’s book, including the following:
“I would tell those people they will get to see their families a lot when we go bankrupt.” — one associate recalling Musk’s response when an employee complained in Tesla’s early days that they were working too hard.
“He goes into his brain, and then you just see he is in another world. He still does that. Now I just leave him be because I know he is designing a new rocket or something.” — Musk’s mother describing how her son, as a child, sometimes seemed to drift off into trances.
- Sophia Stuart in PC magazine, meanwhile, tried to highlight the things we didn’t know about Musk, including these:
While having dinner with fellow PayPal executives at the Hard Rock Café, Las Vegas, he ignored everyone and read an obscure Soviet rocket manual that was moldy and looked like it was bought on eBay.
At the age of 10, he was given a Commodore VIC-20 with five kilobytes of memory. He took just three days of no sleep to learn BASIC and program it.
He totaled his $1 million McLaren F1 sports car doing tricks on Sand Hill Road en route to a meeting with a venture capitalist. He turned to his colleague in the car and said, “The funny part is it wasn’t insured.” They had to hitchhike a ride to the VC office.
In a piece unrelated to the Vance book, but clearly spurred by the horrific Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, Sascha Segan writes in PC magazine that Amtrak should be sold to Musk.
“The Amtrak crash in Philadelphia … was preventable; a technology called Positive Train Control could have stopped it. But Amtrak is so starved and rotten that there’s no chance we’ll see that any time soon. If Congress doesn’t want to pay for a quality rail system – and considering it just cut Amtrak’s budget, it obviously doesn’t — it’s time for a radical solution. Sell the whole thing to a transportation visionary. Sell it to Elon Musk.
“Or, heck, give it to him.”
The writer then asks if it is “totally insane” to give over our national rail system to a billionaire who likes to play trains?
And he answers his own question: “Sure. But we know Musk really likes to play trains, and unlike with Hyperloop and SpaceX, he’d be getting a train set that actually works on day one.”
Meanwhile, Justine Musk, Elon Musk’s first wife, saw fit to answer in a Quora post a question that had been sent her way. The query: “How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Richard Branson?”
Sara Ashley O’Brien, writing in CNN/Money, cited Justine’s interesting response:
“The men in question have unconventional characteristics – and that’s partly responsible for driving them to become such successful entrepreneurs,” Justine Musk wrote. “One reason they become the entrepreneurs they become is because they can’t or don’t or won’t fit into the structures and routines of corporate life.
“They are dyslexic, they are autistic, they have ADD, they are square pegs in round holes, they piss people off, get into arguments, rock the boat, laugh in the face of paperwork.”
All interesting, but perhaps premature. Remember, Steve Jobs wasn’t really Steve Jobs – or at least the one that most of us remember – until the second time around.