Interview with Ashlee Vance: Author of the new biography on Elon Musk

03 Jun 2015

The life of Elon Musk is nothing short of inspiring. At only 43 years of age, Musk has tackled some of the biggest technological challenges facing humanity including: Electric Cars, Space Flight, and Solar Energy. Ashlee Vance, experienced Silicon Valley historian, recently wrote a biography of Elon which follows Musk’s life through a rough childhood in South Africa, his early career at Zip2 and PayPal, and ends at present day with his involvement’s in SpaceX, Solar City, and Tesla Motors. We chatted with Vance to get a little insight into his biography and life in general.


Tell us a little bit about why you decided to write about Elon Musk.

I love factories, and he has the coolest factories going. When I visited SpaceX and saw he was mass producing rockets in the middle of Los Angeles, I decided to write as much as possible about the company and guy behind it.

What was your first impression of Elon Musk? Was he as you anticipated?

He can be intimidating in that he’s physically imposing with very broad shoulders and doesn’t suffer fools.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

So many people but one professor and author – Rubén Martinez – had a particularly large influence in pushing me to become a journalist. He was an inspirational teacher and his stories were so vivid and full of life.

Where is your favorite spot in Silicon Valley?

The Dish – it’s this open area near Stanford where you can see all of Silicon Valley and walk in a nature reserve among massive satellites dishes.

What is your current obsession?

The education system and how messed up it is.

Which publications are on your daily reading list?

I don’t really have a set list. I tend to hop around the Web to different spots every day but often find myself on the longform sites.

What’s on your writing desk?

I tend to write in bed, which is a horrible idea, so a pillow.

If you’re as interested in the forefront of  technology as we are, be sure to grab Elon Musk today and let us know what you think!

Be sure to connect with Ashlee on his website, on Twitter, and on Facebook!

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Taylor loves books with a heavy dose of absurdity, hilarity, and beautiful prose. She is a marketer, adventurer, nature-lover, Hufflepuff, wannabe world traveler, and advocate of laughter.