I Read It So You Don’t Have To
I Read It So You Don’t Have To: ‘Power Play’
How Tesla rose from a scrappy EV startup to the most valuable car company in the world
I Read It So You Don’t Have To is a series that gives you the TL;DR on a business book you want to read — but don’t have time to.
What did I read?
Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century by Tim Higgins.
So who’s this Tim Higgins?
Tim Higgins is a tech and auto reporter for the Wall Street Journal and an on-air contributor to CNBC. Higgins has won two awards from the Society for Advancing Businesses Editing and Writing (SABEW) for his past reporting on Elon Musk and driverless cars.
Give me the 30-second sell.
While Tesla Motors is today nearly synonymous with its CEO and “Technoking” Elon Musk, people forget that Musk wasn’t there at the beginning. Power Play goes into detail on how Tesla Motors came to be, starting as a team of enthusiasts who just really thought it would be cool to build and sell an electric car.
Tesla was started by Silicon Valley vets Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. The duo wanted to buy a sports car that was fast but also safe for the environment. They decided to make one instead. Eberhard’s neighbor, Ian Wright, who used to build race cars in Australia, was brought on soon after the company was created.
Eberhard had fallen in love with the electric vehicle world after seeing a Porsche that had been converted into an electric vehicle at the Electric Auto Association’s rally. Eberhard offered to hire the engineer of that car — a man by the name of JB Straubel, who became Tesla’s first Chief Technical Officer.
As Straubel considered joining Tesla, he asked one of his contacts in the investing world whether he knew anything about the company. That investor, Elon Musk, turned out not only to know the company, but had already invested a chunk of the proceeds from the sale of his last company into it, becoming its largest shareholder and chairman.