Current Weather
The Spy FM

Why The World Pays Attention When Elon Musk Proposes An Idea

Filed by KOSU News in Business.
August 13, 2013

Derision: It’s what would usually greet plans for a futuristic transportation system that could take passengers from LA to San Francisco in 30 minutes. But when Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor behind PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, unveils such a plan, the world pays attention (even if it draws skeptics).

Here are four reasons why the world listens to what Musk has to say:

1. Fanciful ideas: Before he came up with the idea for the Hyperloop, Musk said he planned to put a man on Mars in between 10 and 20 years — and eventually build a colony on the red planet with 80,000 people. For a civilization that hasn’t put a man on the moon since 1972, Mars seems far away; Mars in under two decades seems impossible. But 10 years ago, so did a hyped electric car and a successful private space company.

2. Record of success: Before Tesla, before SpaceX, before Solar City before even PayPal, Musk was behind Zip2, which provided media companies with Internet solutions during the heady dot-com days. He made millions when he sold that company to Compaq in 1998.

3. Comparisons With Iron Man: Musk’s transition from just another dot-com millionaire to the man whose SpaceX became the first privately held company to send a cargo payload to the International Space Station has led to some comparisons with Tony Stark, the billionaire playboy who dons the Iron Man suit in the comics and the movies. In fact, Jon Favreau, who directed Iron Man, says when he had no idea how to make the character seem real, actor Robert Downey Jr. told him to “sit down with Elon Musk.” Musk himself has joked that “there are some important differences between me and Tony Stark, like I have five kids, so I spend more time going to Disneyland than parties. I feel a bit like Tony Stark’s dad.”

4. A Hacker Of Processes: Lost amid the media attention is the fact that what Musk wants to do is be disruptive. Kevin Roose, writing in New York magazine, calls the Hyperloop “a political statement aimed squarely at the Establishment.”

“Musk wants to train normal people to look to private enterprise, not government, for the innovations that will improve their lives, and he wants them to pressure lawmakers to get out of the way of technological progress. That’s a far different project than moving people from San Francisco to L.A. in half an hour, but in many ways, it’s the greater challenge.”

In unveiling his plans for the Hyperloop, Musk called California’s $70 billion plan to build a high-speed train between the two cities too expensive and too slow.

“How could it be,” he wrote, “that the home of Silicon Valley and JPL — doing incredible things like indexing all the world’s knowledge and putting rovers on Mars — would build a bullet train that is both one of the most expensive per mile and one of the slowest in the world?”

Those things may be true, but for now the Hyperloop lives in Musk’s imagination. Still, if it’s one thing we know about Musk, he’s the man who can move it to the realm of reality. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center