WATTENBERG: ElonMUSK, welcome to ThinkThank. Normally these sessions are somewhat related to your history; we ask questions about where you were born, where you went to school and what you did.
ELON MUSK: I was born in South Africa and lived there until I was 17. Then, despite my family’s request, I came to North America at my own request. And I lived in Canada for a few years and started school where I met my wife.
I was transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and got a degree in physics and business at Wharton . I came to California to do a doctorate in materials science physics, taking into account the manufacture of the energy storage unit for electric cars. I postponed graduation to set up and work in a few regions, one of them being PayPal.
WATTENBERG: What is this? I’m a kind of technician ignorant. What does PayPal do?
ELON MUSK: PayPal leads Internet payments. He is 21. Something like Century American Express (the name of a credit card in America).
WATTENBERG: American Express can do what my card does, right? So, can I order something with this credit card over the internet?
ELON MUSK: Yes you can. It is difficult to explain PayPal in analogy because this is really the type of a new entity. So, you can send money to a person or a business just by entering an email. And money is easily transferred from your PayPal account to their PayPal account. If there is money in the Pay Pal account, it will transfer to an internal account, almost like a bank account. If there is no money in his account, he will withdraw money from the credit card or bank account.
WATTENBERG: Was that your idea?
ELON MUSK: There were two other contacts, but I was responsible for most of the basic idea.
ELON MUSK: I had just sold my first internet company and we sold it for about $ 300 million. And after I left the company, I started the business called X.com initially, which later turned into Pay Pal.
WATTENBERG: Now, we are in SpaceX’s most attractive factory. I’ve never seen anything like this before. What are you doing here?
ELON MUSK: SpaceX is developing marketing to take satellites and people into orbit and beyond. We have finished many enhancements and have tested a few experiments on our small rocket called Falcon, which you can see from anywhere. And we have a huge rocket called Falcon 9, which is being developed, and this is also aimed at building a space station as well as aiming to send huge satellites into orbit.
WATTENBERG: Do you own their design? And what are their concepts?
ELON MUSK: Yes, I’m the company’s chief designer.
WATTENBERG: Designer and businessman…
ELON MUSK: Yeah.
WATTENBERG: A nice combination
MUSK: Yeah, I think it’s a nice combination.
WATTENBERG: As far as I understand, you earn money by following other people’s satellites.
WATTENBERG: Satellites are used in things like communication, business, military?
WATTENBERG: So, you want to go to Mars?
MUSK: I can’t answer that – that is, I don’t say that going to Mars is a personal interest to me, but my interest in going to Mars really is because I want to have life outside the world. As far as I know, life is only in the world. It will be possible for the first time in the history of the world to spread life to another planet.
WATTENBERG: So, as they go to Mount Everest, you want to go to Mars?
MUSK: No, no, I think Hillary’s far-flung interpretation is an admirable achievement, such as climbing the highest mountain of the earth and breaking various kinds of records all over the world, making expeditions and being incomprehensible for such a thing. However, it is not included in this category, these much thicker and deeper philosophical foundations are financed better because I think it is important why life goes beyond Earth. it is financed better because I think it’s important to go beyond the Earth.
This shows the importance of nature. How do you decide that one thing is more important than another? And I think a good way to distinguish whether something matters is the layers of history.
When you look at world history on a geological scale, what are the important milestones of life history? Forget the Parochial worries of humanity.
Then we say that unicellular life, multi-cellular life, the arrival of plants against animals is certain.
WATTENBERG: The invention of fire, the wheel, this kind of thing.
MUSK: Actually, this is something incomprehensible to humanity. This is an incomprehensible factor and these are only important in the context of humanity.
WATTENBERG: Ah, I see, all right.
MUSK: I’m talking about what matters to life. In other words, you know that the life born from the oceans and the life that has been carried to the land have become longer.
The advancement of mammals is from the development of consciousness. There can be ten or twelve things on this scale.
Later, a subset of human achievements would be fire, wheel, internet and such things.
WATTENBERG: Do you believe in the “Unmoved carrier”? In other words, did somebody start all of it?
MUSK: I think the universe can be explained by the laws of physics and does not require space in any superior being.
WATTENBERG: Let’s move on to other topics. Most of the space program, and of course its origin, was governments.
WATTENBERG: It is obvious that he is a military , NASA, the main future of space program and space exploration. Or should this be done by governments or private companies?
MUSK: Probably both. So, yes, space exploration is difficult and expensive. So it should be done together with both government and private companies.
WATTENBERG: Can you work on this project without government assistance?
WATTENBERG: I mean, have you reached a point where you can design your rockets, do the work and you don’t need it?
MUSK: Right. We started this job without government aid. The government is not just a customer, but we also have major business customers.
WATTENBERG: Who is your customer? Defense ministry and NASA?
MUSK: Yes, assuming that NASA is our biggest customer, the Ministry of Defense, especially DARPA, is also a customer.
However, it is also our customer to Canadian McDonald Detweet. We recently signed this commercial geography [incomprehensible] satellite launch agreement with commercial satellite operator Avanti in the UK.
WATTENBERG: Do you find yourself disadvantaged or advantageous alongside large industrial hemodines such as people like Boeing and one of your competitors?
MUSK: I think it’s an advantage because it’s hard to follow the best engineers of these big companies. It is not really easy to work with these tools.
Therefore, you know that we are very successful in hiring the best people from these organizations. And it can be really inefficient, so cheap.
WATTENBERG: How inefficient is it?
WATTENBERG: This is not a very good rule, is it?
MUSK: As a company grows and has the ability to use the workforce division and expertise, the number of employees increases.
However, when you reach a certain point where communication inefficiency and workforce expertise prevails, every employee can be rejected.
WATTENBERG: How fast is SpaceX growing for people?
MUSK: About 100 percent a year. But this will not continue in the future. It could be 50 percent in the future.
WATTENBERG: When will you fall victim to being so great? Is this recently?
MUSK: I think it’s definitely too far. I think maybe we will continue fixing around one thousand two thousand people. However, I think Boeing will be 100 thousand people.
WATTENBERG: One of your remarkable entrepreneurship events is a new electric car to take one step further.
WATTENBERG: Could you give us information about this?
MUSK: Sure. I am the head and founder of Tesla, the engines that make the revolutionary electric sports car. They are all electric, with a range of about 250 miles.
It has an acceleration of up to 60 miles per hour, in less than four seconds. And it is on the price tag of about 100 thousand dollars, so it is an attractive price for the vehicle with this performance.
WATTENBERG: Will the price decrease while production continues?
MUSK: The sports car will probably stay at this price point. Tesla, however, is developing a lower-cost car that is a sedan, a vehicle that could be a five-passenger, four-door sedan and a rather large and family sedan, or replace a small SUV. We will produce 10 to 20 thousand of these products every year.
So, we have a model that will be next, which will be in the range of 30 to 35 thousand dollars, and we will have a volume of 100 to 200 thousand [incomprehensible].
WATTENBERG: What is the purpose of building an electric car? Could it be as economical and competitive as a fossil fuel powered vehicle?
MUSK: Yes, in fact, I think long-term electric cars will gain more competitive power than gasoline cars. In addition, the price of gasoline will increase over time due to the limited supply and rapidly increasing demand, as we have seen especially from China and India.
However, in addition to the rise in gas prices, the cost of electricity transportation will also decrease and will be driven in part by companies such as Tesla.
WATTENBERG: Do you think we need to do more to promote nuclear energy use in the USA? We have never built a new nuclear power plant here in about 25 years.
MUSK: Right. It is true that we have not built new nuclear power plants in a few years. While most people are not aware, they realize that existing nuclear power plants have been enormously modernized.
Therefore, our nuclear energy rate did not decrease much.
WATTENBERG: Approx. 20% in total.
MUSK: Yes, we have to build more nuclear power plants. This is definitely the best way to generate better energy than a coal power plant or natural gas power plant.
Burning hydrocarbons – I think people now know it’s a pretty bad thing. After all this time, you know that the atmosphere and the oceans have a certain limit of CO2 capacity.
WATTENBERG: You came from South Africa at the age of 17.
WATTENBERG: You were an immigrant, a legal immigrant.
MUSK: No, no. Yes, from the legal one.
WATTENBERG: I have to think that many informal values add great value to the United States. You said you’re pro-American.
MUSK: Yeah, that’s true.
WATTENBERG: What do you mean?
MUSK: I mean, the United States is the largest country in the world. And I think that this does not happen, I think it will be difficult to argue with objective reasons. I think the facts are very important in this direction. This is the greatest power for the good of every country that has never been before.
Democracy would not exist in the world without the United States. Obviously, due to three different events in the Twentieth Century, democracy would fall with World War I, World War II and the Cold War.
WATTENBERG: Perhaps the threat of terrorism would have been much larger if it hadn’t been for the United States.
MUSK: Yeah, absolutely. I think it would be wrong to say that the USA is perfect, definitely not. There were a lot of stupid and bad things the US did.
But if historians address these issues on balance and measure the good with the bad, and do it rationally and make a fair assessment, I think the US is good.
WATTENBERG: Well, you know that there is a lot of incomprehensible evidence in the public opinion that immigrants are more patriotic than Americans. Because those who were born here were born here, and you know that most Americans love their country.
WATTENBERG: What is the X Award?
MUSK: X Reward Foundation is an organization that creates these rewards for things that have an incentive to be and everything is important.
WATTENBERG: Who sponsors the X Award?
MUSK: Yes, it is changing. There were many sponsors for the X Award. Actually, I’m one of the sponsors. However, the main sponsor was Ansari. This is called the Ansari X Award. Neva Actually Ansari, the Ansari family has sponsored many X Awards.
WATTENBERG: SpaceX is already profitable.
WATTENBERG: Tesla can never be profitable.
MUSK: It is not yet profitable.
WATTENBERG: It’s not public anymore, isn’t any of your initiative public?
MUSK: None of my biggest initiatives were made public.
WATTENBERG: But they can get better.
MUSK: Right. I doubt that my three top enterprises, SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City, will become public in the course of time.
WATTENBERG: And the reason for this is to provide more capital to expand.
MUSK: Yes, being open to the public provides more capital for expansion, provides a measure of liquidity for investors in the company, and is also useful as currency for the purchase of other companies.
WATTENBERG: So you want to be open to everyone and make stock problems?
MUSK: I can not say: There is such a situation because I said that the public is a society, because you know a certain level of maturity of the company on the road. But I don’t – I’m open to everyone as a goal. This is not really a goal.
WATTENBERG: Is it one of the reasons why entrepreneurs are open to the public if they are determined to use the stock to buy other companies?
WATTENBERG: How much do you want to grow before your eyes? Do you want to be very very large or medium-sized, as big as Microsoft?
MUSK: [Laughs] Do I want to be as big as Microsoft?
WATTENBERG: Yes, someone did Gates.
MUSK: Company market value is not a criterion for me to decide on my own success.
I pay much more attention to the situation of Tesla and Solar City, climate change , CO2 production and energy independence for these two companies and the SpaceX situation. First of all, I want to make progress to help them become a civilization and ultimately extend life beyond the earth.
WATTENBERG: Is there anyone you admire from politicians these days?
MUSK: Of those who are alive?
WATTENBERG: Yes, from the survivors. Is there someone you admire, and is there someone you will be upset when you die?
MUSK: As you know, I’m generally not a big fan of politicians.
WATTENBERG: Like most Americans.
WATTENBERG: What about the last ones. Do you think Reagan did a good job?
MUSK: Yeah, absolutely. I think Reagan did a great job.
WATTENBERG: ElonMUSK, Thank you very much for joining “THINK TANK”.