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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on this startup idea?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
Well, thank you for having me here today. Um, I, uh I've really been a big fan of entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship has been very good to me, so I'm happy to help encourage other entrepreneurs. Um, how did I get to where I got to today? Uh, well, there was one funny story, Remember? Um, my first job out of college. I was working on its solar powered race car. And it was when the race across Australia 2000 and race and our car worked really well, it did, like, 50 miles an hour forever and ever just on sunlight alone. And I remember coming back, um, after this thing, and the car did way better than anyone thought it would. Dio remember my boss saying, Great job. The average raise that Hughes aircraft company is 5% but you're gonna get 6% next year. And I was kind of like, Wow, um, I want sort of an opportunity where my my reward is more tied Thio, you know? Yes, exactly. On Ben. How did we get how to get to this current company was in my fifth startup company and we actually started trying to do nuclear fusion, Um, which I don't know how much you know about it, but it's if you can do nuclear fusion. It's amazing. The fuel for nuclear fusion is like water, sea water. And you know, this much water can power. Like all of San Francisco for a month. It's just amazing. We confusion. But anyway, we did not succeed in reaching breakthrough energy level with nuclear fusion. Um, what? Ah, lot of the similar plasma physics for nuclear fusion is similar to what you use for creating a type of ion thruster for satellites. And so we said, Well, pivot and we started creating ion type of ion thruster called the Hall thruster for satellites. And that's how we sort of got Thio this and I'm actually aerospace engineer from from school and my bachelor's and master's from M I T. And Aerospace Engineering. Okay,

What is the elevator pitch of your startup? What problem does it solve? How were your customers solving their pain point before your startup?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So our vision is to basically, um, provide propulsion for the majority of small satellites going up over the next 5 to 10 years. Um, there's a little bit of a renaissance in space right now. Um, in the past, uh, 60 years since Sputnik, there have been a total about 6000 satellites that have gone up in 60 years. Um, many projections for the next five years or 20 or 30,000 satellites. So five times many satellites in 1/10 the amount of time. Um, yes, I really renaissance in space. So, um, what we What our product does is basically it's very high performing. Um, hall thruster that one. Satellites, once satellites are in space, they need a way to maintain their orbit to raise their orbit from where they're dropped off by the launch vehicle to their final orbit. They need a way to de orbit. Andi need a way to potentially change their orbit to avoid collisions. Um, and we have, we believe, the most efficient, um, electric propulsion, uh, technology on the market

Can you walk us through your first few weeks when you started working on this project? How did things change over the next few months?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
did. Um, we focused very much on, um, some of the biggest satellite constellations around a time. Um, Space six had announced they're gonna put up a large constellation of satellites and one web and announce they're gonna put up a large constellation satellites. So we basically we looked at their announcements. The number of satellites we're gonna put up the orbits, they were gonna put them up to A lot of times, they have to file with the FCC giving details on the mass of their satellite that the orbit they're going to and we designed our system around those constellations. Uh, one web, I think was going to be 600 satellites and and space six was gonna be 11,000 satellites. So we designed our system around those all those satellites, And then we approached each of them and said, We've got the best proposal system for you, and then a bunch of discussions happened, and that's where it started yet

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How did the team's composition, dynamics, time, and resource commitment evolve?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So it was challenging to, um to get people to join on aerospace company, because I think many people have a view that it's often time correct that the aerospace industry is is slow moving. And, um, you know, it's sort of layers of bureaucracy and government regulation, and many Silicon Valley engineers were not too excited about that. They would rather work on something like Google or Facebook or Twitter. Um, S O. That was one of the challenges on bond. But we were able to overcome that because, you know, we are focus was to move quickly. And we said, Well, we don't wanna be a airspace company that takes 10 years to, you know, get a contract and design it in law. And things were changing in the space industry. Um, you know, Space six was launching faster and faster, launching almost once every month or more. Space six going up. And the cost will coming way down. Uh, maybe have come down by a factor of 10 of launching in the past, you know, five years alone. So I won. Yeah. And so we're able to tell convince people. Look, it's the industry changing it. Z much lower costs, much faster launch cycles. So it's it's gonna be different than the aerospace industry of 10 or 20 years ago. Um, and the team, uh, you know, we we we brought people in from Google from Google X, which is the group at Google, which works on the kind of like self driving car and the project blue in the balloon flying. So bringing people like that in who have experience working on sort of Moonshot type projects. And this is literally a Moonshot type process. Yeah, right.

How did your venture get its first professional funding? What were the challenges and how were they overcome? How'd your fundraising efforts change in subsequent rounds?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
Yeah, I was very fortunate that I have known. Um, Reid Hoffman, for 20 years or so. Read was the chairman of Linked in, um and hey, actually, recently sold, linked into Microsoft for $26 billion. I think, um, and I have a social group where I meet for dinner once a month with 10 or 12 CEO types in Silicon Valley. He's one of them, and I mentioned him. And one of the dinners. Yes, I'm working on a new venture, and he was very excited. He says, you know, I wanna I wanna invest. So that moved very quickly. Presented to his partnership on Monday. And by the end of Monday that giving me a term sheet to move forward? Yeah, yeah.

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
so going back to the sort of the market that we studied, you know, these these consolations that we thought were going up, We we tried to make the the simplest product. We could have the no moving parts, um, we used we used, ah, strategic manufacturing partner to actually make it. So we didn't have to build all of the equipment to make, probably have to design it and then have existing aerospace manufacturer make it, um And we didn't build the tank and the feed system. We bought those from partners s. We focused on the thruster itself in the electron ICS. Um, and we had many, many, many conversations with, uh with satellite manufacturers in the industry, probably 20 or 30 different vendors. And by all these conversations, some would say, Well, we actually want a higher power version of that, or we actually want one with a different type of propellant. And by having all these conversations we eventually came up with, to sort of yeah, yeah, 22 classes of a fluster woman's like a 400 watt thruster. One was like a 1400 watt foster, and that was able to pretty much meet the needs of all the satellite manufacturers were talking to. So that's that's how we started. Evolved into a low power woman. A high powered one? Yeah. Yes, yes.

Who were your early users? What marketing channels, approaches, and marketing tools did you use to contact users? What worked and what didn't?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
so generally two types of earlier ages. One was the U. S. Military. They have interest in, um, you know, satellites that can do observation off. You know, uh oh, the United States, you know, one. Um Also the other early user is, ah, communication satellite company that wanted a new type of satellite that was doing communication, but in a different, different size and different power level than previous communication satellites. So, um, the marketing channels were pretty much actually direct direct interface. We would conferences like this. There's a conference in Utah called the small like conference. We would go to this conference we meet face to face with people there. We would also call them and email them directly and have face to face with them and say, This is where technology does. We didn't really advertise in airspace, magazines, and things like that was basically a direct approach to all the customers

What changes would you attempt in customer targeting, acquisition process, and marketing tools in the later growth phase? Why?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So as soon as we get bigger, I think we will. Um we will have more of a presence at some of the airspace conferences. In the past, we didn't have a booth, and in these conferences will probably have a booth where people can come up to us and we can show them the thruster showed the electron ICS. Um, we'll also probably, uh, take out advertisements in some of the aerospace magazines. Space, space news. Um, uh, you know, Aviation Week and space technology. Things like that will probably have some marketing presence there.

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So actually, one of the biggest competitors was a Russian company. The Russians have been doing this type of electric propulsion for over a decade. Um, and they had a lot of experience in space, which is tough to sell against them. But we're getting some benefit because in the current view of political climate, you know people are less are more worried about buying from, uh, you know, countries that are now getting more and more conflict with the United States and Europe and things like that. So so that helped us and competing competitive advantage. We focused on the integrated system. Both the thruster and the electron ICS some some of our competitors on Lee did. Thrust or not, the electron ICS having an integrated solution was helpful. And also we focused on, um, having very strong industrialization and manufacturing capability. So if someone wanted to make 1000 propulsion systems, it was easy for us, because again we were their own factory. We were using a partner who who's making thousands of systems every month for somebody else, and it was easy for them. T make 100 or 200 per month s. Oh, that was a big advantage for us.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So some of the most exciting moments are when we when we close the deal and you on the Air Force says yes, we want to buy your system. Um, some of the missions were very exciting for the Air Force or one of the commercial ones. Too close recently was very exciting. Um, it's also exciting for us when we have success in the lab as we're testing the system, for instance, we wanted the test we have to do is turn it on and off and on and off and on and off. We did that 12,000 times and after 12,000 times was still working. We're very happy or we do a life test of the system we started and we run it for 1000 hours, and after 1000 hours of it's still working. We're like, It's great, It's good. Um, so those were very exciting when we had So technical winds. Um, in terms of tough moments, there were many, many, many tough moments. Um, many times. Yeah. Many times I felt like man, if I could just push a button and, you know, wind, give all the investor money back, not hire all these people I would push, I would have pushed that button. But the way I got through it was I I just would remind myself it is my fifth startup and I've been in this situation 30 times before. Where I just things were, I mean to my previous companies were one was one day away from going bankrupt. One was three weeks away from going bankrupt, one that, you know, it's crazy lawsuit filed against us for no the different reason, which costs us a half a million dollars. Just defend defend even though we want eventually, Um, you know, we had We had team members who left the company a to the worst time and just all sort of, you know, we had customers who said they were gonna buy, you know, a million dollars with stuff, and then they change your mind and didn't do it. It's like everything you can imagine. Going wrong goes wrong, so you just have to remember you've been in a bad place before and it'll probably get better, so I just have to go through it and just keep goingthe thoughts. One is, um I don't know who said it. Maybe Thomas Addis Anderson and said, Necessity is the mother of invention. So if you're in this horrible spot and you have Thio come up with some way of solving it, oftentimes you do. I mean you, you have to invent either. Technically, you invent a solution or from a business structure, you invent a solution or from a team you know, internal team dynamics. You invent a solution. But so, you know, just kind of remember that necessity is the mother invention will force you to, you know, to find a way. I don't know. I think it's maybe it's not Thomas Edison, but there's another one of those things I think is, um, the, you know, faced with failure after failure after failure after failure, the surest way to ultimately be successful is to always be willing to try just one more time. Um, and there's a little bit of, uh, cleverness in that, because if you're always willing to try one more time, then yeah, I guess if you got some finite probability of succeeding every time you try, even if it's 1% or a half percent, then I guess technically, that's right. If you're keep trying and you have some finite, probably then you will eventually succeed. So there's some truth to that. I think you got to remember.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: Vice President & Project Leader of Project Loon, Google
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
eso My responsibility was I mean, I led the project. So pretty much everything. Every decision, every important decision on Project Loon. Eventually I had to make, um and there are all sorts of things you had to work deal with with project. I mean, you're flying around the world, so you're flying over places like China in Iran and you know, Africa. And you have to, like, work out permissions to fly over these countries. Um, the balloons would sometimes land, not always. At times. We wanted them to come down. It was like something would go wrong. And the liquid come and the balloon come down, something would come down and, you know, in in Africa, or come down near a city or come down, Uh, you know, in Bhutan or Nepal or something. And so you have to deal with that. You had to deal with, um, winning, negotiating spectrum frequency. You need to transmit on certain frequencies. You have tow, negotiate these rights with people who own the spectrum. Um, it's very complicated around the world. Who owns which spectrum in which country? Uh, you are. And the clinical challenges were quite quite hard, like you know, how do you get the balloons to be where you want them to be? You know, because And we figured out a way to steer the balloon is actually the in the in the in the stratosphere, the the wind is stratified. It goes different directions at different altitudes. So at 62,000 ft, it might be blowing 10 miles an hour to the east. At 9000 ft, it might be blowing four miles an hour to the Southwest. And so if you go up and down, you can actually steer east Northeast one. And that's what we did. And we got to be very good at having these. He's automated software system would steer the balloons to where he wanted by going up and down here, all right.

What responsibilities and decisions did you handle at work? What were the challenges? What strategies were effective in dealing with these challenges?

Based on experience at: CEO, Xfire, Viacom
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
So So the key. The key challenges with X fire were, um, basically getting getting the most users in the world to adopt it. Most gamers to use it. Um, it was a virally growing product. So that means people would would give it to their friends as they're playing games. And then their friends would give it to their friends. Eso One of the key things was designing the products such that it required this. You know, you have to give it to your friends in order to use it and making it very easy for you to give it your friends So you could just yeah, text a link to your friend or email link to your friend or inside inside the APP. You could easily add your friend and designing all those things to make it very, very easy to grow very quickly is one of the most important things. Another important thing was, we do deals with some of the big game manufacturers like Elektronik cards where they bundled. They bundled our game in with they bottled are extra application in with their games anytime people installed, you know, one of the battlefield, Whatever 1942 games or something. Ex fire would come with it, or Ah, call of duty, I think were bundled in with call of duty from activism. Is people download? The game expire was bundled in. Um, negotiating those deals was, um, was another important sort of responsibility. Um, yeah, yeah, group.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts in each of your college programs?

Based on experience at: MBA, Harvard Business School
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Sat Sep 12 2020
uh, well, I mean, I think you know, it certainly did teach some of the core fundamentals. Like I learned how to do accounting. And you know how Visit school, but also marketing, you know, with the different types of marketing. I learned how to do that. Um, but sort of more fundamentally, uh, the way Harvard Business School works and and some of the other business schools is, um, you're a class setting with maybe maybe 80 80 or 90 students, and the class is only 80 or 90 minutes long, so it's a some levels. You get to speak about one minute on average per class. Um, and you know, you want to persuade your classmates of your viewpoints, Want to persuade the professor That's just brilliant. And so every day, three or four times a day for two years, you really have a lot of practice under a lot of pressure of trying to speak very concisely very clearly and very persuasively. And I think that practice it's very helpful, and everything else you do when you're trying to raise money, you kind of use those skills you learned trying to be very persuasive, concise speaker at Harvard. Use that when you're raising money. Use that when you're recruiting team members. Use that when you're trying to sell your product. Thio. You know, some satellite manufacturer. So that's, I think, one of most important things I got out of hard business.