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Discussion in 'Tesla, Inc.' started by malcolm, Apr 11, 2009.
Any new updates?
On the "early years" of Tesla? No. That was a long time ago. History remains the same. Focus on the future. It's pretty damn exciting!
Around the time that I first posted to this thread, I made some edits to Elon Musk's Wikipedia page. On July 21, 2011, I politely suggested that a citation was needed for the claim that he was a co-founder of Tesla. By August 7, 2011, I changed "invented" the first electric car to "funded" the first electric car. I also rephrased the sentence claiming that he co-founded both Paypal and Tesla, making it clearer that he was merely an original investor in Tesla Motors. My edits didn't last long, because by September 27, someone had restored the "co-founder" language.
Anyway, it seemed to me to be impossible, at least at the time, to put something of the truth there. Fortunately, after I gave up, others have succeeded in revising Elon Musk's entry to be more factual. I remember checking back some years later to find that the text was accurate. I briefly thought of this as a victory for Wikipedia's technology and community.
Of course, that accuracy did not last. I just looked again today and Musk's entry is back to claiming that he was a co-founder. Perhaps it's a never-ending task to keep that page accurate.
History is written by the winning side.
Corollary: One of the spoils of victory is the spoiling of history.
The work of Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, Ian Wright and J.B.Straubel in the early days with the T-Zero and various Lotus mules was fundamental.
And yes, Elon came on board after a few months as a funder* rather than as a founder. But it is also true that he has made enormous sacrifices as well.
Detractors would argue (with justification) that he has sacrificed colleagues (Lyndon and Pete Rive's departure from Solar City is an interesting parallel). Supporters would point to the key period at the end of 2008 where he doubled-down to support both Tesla and SpaceX, and so nearly didn't make it.
In the recording of the past, is there ever a correct balance between hagiography and demonography?
One man's balance is another man's bias.
*The Golden Rule - whoever has the gold, makes the rules.
Wikipedia gives link to Elon Musk which says "Elon is also the co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla,"
You need more convincing source.
Here's a nice and almost entirely accurate account (though it does suggest Elon Musk was far more central to the PayPal story than actual history supports). Worth the watching:
Thanx for that video. I am currently reading "Car Wars" by John Fialka. There is a chapter covering this timeline as well, and the story in the book lines up with the info in this video.
On another note, here's a granular question related to that era that maybe someone who follows this thread would know. I've started penning a series of historical EV articles for cleantechnica.com (here). One idea floating around is to do an "unsung heroes" piece, and Alan Cocconi is a likely target. Here's the question: When Cocconi built the inverter for GMs 'Santana' (which became the progenitor of the EV-1) he used a type of transistor known as a "FET" (Field Effect Transistor). When GM later wanted to use Cocconi to improve on his design for the EV-1 inverter (as the story goes) GM wanted to use a different type of semiconductor called an IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor), which Cocconi balked at doing, and thus was not hired by GM to rework his inverter design (again, as the story goes).
OK, here's the question (really): Elon Musk and others at Tesla have claimed that the inverter they bought the specs to from AC Propulsion had to be extensively re-worked. I'm wondering if anyone knows whether that inverter (used in the tZero) was still using FETs? If so, that might have been one item Tesla was referring to as needing to be reworked.
I know that question may sound trivial, but I'd like to know the answer in terms of how much Cocconi contributed to the modern electric cars (namely Teslas) driving around today.
There was a huge redo of the PEM for Roadster to get the torque needed for 1.5 version to be able to use one speed (instead of 2) gearbox. I think they replaced a lot of analog circuitry with digital. My understanding is that Tesla essentially redid almost everything.
Another thing I recall is that an improved IGBT came to market just as the Roadster 1.5 PEM was being designed. Apparently Tesla ‘lucked out’ and got an enabling technology just in the nick of time. Previous looks at IGBTs may have found them lacking so previous decisions not to use them could have made sense at the time.
Martin described the original electronics as "color TV circa 1976".
Always best to go to original sources when possible.
The founding of Tesla with Marc and Martin is much more interesting than the above short clip.
I think writers call it poetic privilege. Listen to Marc tell the true fascinating tale.
And near bankruptcy at least twice you'll need to listen to Elon/JB [CEO/CTO] recount Tesla history and the "Secret Mater Plan"up to 2016 from one of the annual report meetings 2016,05,31 Perhaps the best annual meeting so far.
Also see how close Wall St. came to taking over Tesla management in an attempt to get Tesla to focus more on quarterly profits and forget the other lofty goals - be warned this is my very biased view.
Martin was not doing a mid-life crisis build himself a sports car - he is not that shallow.
note: Marc, Martin, Ian [Ian Wright that now started/runs www.wrightspeed.com] seem to be the original three that JB and Elon started working with. Elon was just an investor in the beginning. JB was following his passion of electrification.
Martin really did start the ball rolling by looking for a fun car that didn't burn oil. When he couldn't find one, that led him down the road to building one. That led to manufacturing an EV with Marc. That led them both down the road to what he called an "oil hack"; by building a fun, expensive electric car, they could redefine what an EV could be (not a weirdmobile, not a punishment car, but an aspirational one). By building (and selling) those, they could step down to a broader-market, luxury sedan that was also thrilling to drive. Once they captured that segment, they could use the profits to build a mainstream, mass-market vehicle. Once they did that, they'd be well on their way to transforming the transportation sector in favor of EV's. Once they did that (or even well before), they'd exert a strong downward pressure on oil, making it less valuable and ultimately kind of beside the point, with all the good - economic, environmental, security - that would come from it.
So, Mr Musk's "secret master plan" was part of Tesla's DNA before he was invited to invest in the company.
Sorry I haven't heard Martins version of Tesla Founding - above is one of Marc's talks on his and Martin's reasons for starting Tesla. This was the 2nd company he and Martin had founded. I let Marc tell his version, which I still find much more interesting than just a boy toy. If you haven't heard Marc tell his version of the story, you really really would enjoy and find it interesting. Of course you can tell I think everyone should listen to it (and sadly I've listened to it more than once and always found Marc's story very inspiring. Anyone thinking of starting a business can learn useful things. And it is just a great story. Hope you found Elon & JB telling of some of Tesla history for the first dozen years interesting too. And of course customer Q&A always has some gems.
Well, now you had me do a quick search, and I see this:
Yes, I've heard Marc's account and it's accurate. I didn't have time to listen to the hour-plus talk at Stanford, but I will later. Does it mention Martin's wrecking his Audi TT? He was carrying lumber back home in it (!) and he was nearly killed. That prompted a search for a replacement that didn't burn oil, then on to the conversations with Marc, the idea (and Master Plan) for Tesla, the naming of the company while visiting Disneyland with the kids, and so on and so forth. Nuvomedia was the company they'd co-founded before (making the Rocket EBook, an early and elegant e reader that introduced them to the possibilities of commodity batteries). They were (and are) a very effective engine for innovation, with Martin the Blue Sky, Big Ideas guy, and Marc the grounded, Show Me How This Will Work partner.
I found this pod cast
Martin Eberhard is the Co-Founder, President of Technology and former CEO of Tesla Motors, a company that produces the Tesla Roadster, a battery-powered electric sports car. Eberhard discusses his inspiring journey of diverse experiences in building Tesla Motors. He describes the lessons he learned: from the realization of doing something meaningful to thinking an idea through and aggressively following all leads. Tesla Motors which started with two employees is now more than 250 employees strong.
Lessons from the Electric Roadster | Stanford eCorner
I just watched this. Marc's talk matches my little bits of first-hand knowledge, and even though it's longer than "Tesla Before Elon", it's well worth the time. (I was fortunate to work at the same company as Martin and Marc immediately before they founded Tesla Motors. I thought they were crazy for going off to start a company that makes electric cars, so what do I know!)