Sunday, 9 July 2017

Not all arms are embracing

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Celebrated inventors have had a major influence on our lives. Names that spring to mind are Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Henry Ford. In more modern time times we can add Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

A new name we might like to consider as being on a par with the aforementioned is Elon Musk. I know this because I am currently reading his biography written by Ashlee Vance.

Musk is best known as the CEO and owner of the Tesla car company that delivered the Model S, a beautiful all-electric sedan that can go more than 300 miles on a single charge. The vehicle took the automotive industries breath away and slapped Detroit sober.

What’s not widely known is that he also owns a company called SpaceX that build rockets at a fraction of the cost of its rivals and sends satellites into orbit on a regular basis. SpaceX recently flew a supply capsule to the International Space Station and brought it safely back to earth. Musk’s ambition for the company is to set up a human colony on Mars as he is certain there will come a time when Earth will be over-populated and we will need to find new living environments.

He is also the chairman and largest shareholder of SolarCity. The company manufactures photovoltaic panels to generate electricity from the sun’s rays and lithium-ion battery packs. Musk is setting up solar-powered charging stations all over America for Model S owners to top up their batteries at no cost. Just imagine the future implications for Mobil, Caltex and Z.

Musk is described as a visionary genius: the man most likely to solve our addiction to carbon, save the planet from global warming, and set us on a course for our interplanetary destiny.

Born in South Africa, Elon and his brother Kimbal came to America via Canada in their early twenties and founded a web software company called Zip2 which they on-sold giving Elon $10 million with which he founded X.Com, an online financial services and email payment company. He merged this company with PayPal which was purchased by eBay for $1.5 billion.

Musk netted $250 million from the sale.

The other major shareholder in Pay-Pal and its original founder was Peter Thiel whose wealth is estimated at $US2.7 billion. Musk’s biographer describes Thiel as a “heroic genius.”

The name Peter Thiel will be familiar. He caused a stir recently by being given New Zealand citizenship under an ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause. He gave a million dollars to the Christchurch earthquake fund and has invested in a number of NZ start-up companies.

Of course the usual suspects were outraged. How dare the government give this interloper citizenship? The same suspects are also demanding that we increase the number of refugees we allow into the country. I have no problem with increasing our refugee quota, but many of these people will end up on welfare and some of the professionals among them will have little option but to drive taxis in Auckland.

Work it out for yourself.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” - George Bernard Shaw


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