Two days ago I went to London to cheer for Paris Saint Germaine in the Champions round and I ran into Elon Mursk at Sofra´s take out on White Horse Lane. I couldn´t pass up the chance to interview him.
Mursk during the interview, sitting outside Sofra´s
I offered him falafel coins and a plate of almond pistachio baklava and he really liked the idea, so we sat down and had this brief chat:
F. Leanme: I noticed you carry an ID tag with the name Elon Mursk, so I figured this was a great opportunity to find out what you think of your business in general, as well as the prospects for solar power and rocket science.
E. Mursk: Yea, well. First, I have to say my interest in electric vehicles goes back a long time…goes back 20 plus years.
F. Leanme: So you got interested in electric vehicles… I understand you watched the death of the EV1, when they were all smashed. Talk about that and why you felt even after founding your rocket science venture you had to get involved in battery powered cars.
E. Mursk: I have to say my interest in electric vehicles goes back a long time…goes back 20 plus years.
F. Leanme: I hear you used to bore dates repeating yourself a lot and with talk about electric cars
E. Mursk: Back then I was really boring, I used to repeat myself a lot. And that bullshit wasn´t a winning combination…but recently it’s been more effective, although it really helps to be a millionaire. I think it´s half their interest in electric vehicle design parameters and the other half may be the money. That´s the thing about women, you never know what´s in their heads. I guess I could try talking about the recent claim of a 3.7 sigma deviation from the expected gamma ray backgrounds at 2 to 10 giga electron volts and they would smile and stick around.
F. Leanme: The key to electric car success is the battery. What progress have you made?
E. Mursk : I knew that big car companies would develop electric cars. It was obviously the right move and I thought that was vindicated when General Motors and Toyota announced…General Motors was doing the EV1, Toyota did the electric RAV 4, the original one. I just had to make the batteries and everything would be cool. And then when California dumped on electric cars, GM recalled all of the EV1s and crushed them into little cubes, which seemed kind of nutty.
F. Leanme: Yes…Big Oil must have had an orgasm.
E. Mursk : Electric car groupies held a candlelit vigil, in the yard where the cars were crushed…now…and those goddam oil company presidents were guzzling champagne in Dallas.
F. Leanme: Did you attend that vigil?
E. Mursk : No, I did not. I´m not a groupie. But I was really disappointed. I knew those cars weren´t the real answer, but they sure were neat.
F. Leanme: You’re moved by the event.
E. Mursk : Well certainly, I mean, it’s crazy…When was the last time you heard about any company… customers holding a candlelight vigil for the demise of their product? Electric vehicles are like worship objects for some people. We make religious memorabilia, you could say. Although some guys buy them for the sex angle.
So I decided to get with some friends and we had a kit car and outfitted it with lithium ion batteries, consumer grade cells, and we had this huge toy: sub 4 seconds zero to 60 mph, 250 mile range and also a two-seater sports car. But it was quite primitive. So in order to sell that car, there was a fair bit of work that was required. And we needed those government subsidies. At that time there was just no way to make a good value proposition.
F. Leanme: So that´s what made you start your own company?
E. Mursk : And that’s basically how Mursk Car Company, a Delaware LLC, came together. I provided like 95% of the money, so I named myself President. It’s a terrible idea. Hey, this Baklava is really good, what´s in it?
Almond Pistachio Baklava
F. Leanme: It´s the Almond Pistachio Baklava. It’s one thing to have all those wonderful ideas in the shower and another thing to build an electric car that sells. Can you talk about some tips and some things you’ve learned that obviously work for you?
E. Mursk : Yeah. Well a company is a group of people that are organized to create a product or service. That’s what a company is. So in order to create such a thing, you need money. This comes from a bank account or you borrow it from the bank. But the really key aspect is getting people to believe in what you’re doing – and in you – is important. If they think you are full of shit then they don´t buy into it and you´re toast. So there´s a lot of showmanship and giving pep talks to make it work. And it helps to know people in the government.
F. Leanme: Let´s move to rocket science. In the beginning there will be few people who believed in you, but you got yourself a really nice rocket ship.
E. Mursk : Yeah. I always thought NASA were a bunch of bureaucrats creating space garbage. No wonder the Space Shuttle exploded so many times. So I decided I could do a better job, and here we are….but the really key aspect is getting people to believe in what you’re doing – and in you – is important. If they think you are full of shit then they don´t buy into it and you´re toast. So there´s a lot of showmanship and giving pep talks to make it work. And it helps to know people in the government.
F. Leanme: And solar power, where do you think it´s headed?
E. Mursk : I´m convinced the solar panel price will drop, and eventually we´ll get some sort of real battery. Meanwhile I´ll try to sell my batteries to solar power groupies. There´s a lot of showmanship and giving pep talks to make it work. And it helps to know people in the government.
Lots of batteries, needed to make solar power work.
F. Leanme: Mr Mursk, I see you finished your desert, and I got to run over to watch Paris Saint Germain do a number on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. I want to thank you for your time, and I hope your companies do well.
E. Mursk : I´m not into European football, and I got to give a speech at the Albert Hall, got to sell batteries, you know.
And with a bow and a flourish Mr Mursk walked down White Horse Line looking for the Albert Hall…
Reference: Almond Pistachio Baklava Recipe
In a small saucepan, bring 2-3/4 cups sugar, water, honey and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Cool.
Preheat oven to 350°. In a food processor, combine pistachios and almonds; cover and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg and remaining sugar; set aside. Brush a 15x10x1-in. baking pan with some of the butter. Unroll one package of phyllo dough; cut stack into a 10-1/2x9-in. rectangle. Repeat with remaining phyllo. Discard scraps.
Line bottom of prepared pan with two sheets of phyllo dough (sheets will overlap slightly). Brush with butter. Repeat layers 14 times. (Keep dough covered with plastic wrap and a damp towel until ready to use to prevent it from drying out.) Sprinkle with a third of the nut mixture.
Top with 15 layers of buttered phyllo dough and a third of the nut mixture; repeat layers. Top with remaining phyllo dough, buttering each layer.
Using a sharp knife, cut into 1-1/2-in. diamond shapes. Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Place pan on a wire rack. Slowly pour cooled sugar syrup over baklava. Cover and let stand overnight. Yield: about 4 dozen.
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