Steve Jobs’ biographer Schlender: Elon Musk is the next great visionary

“In a standing room only event at Apple Inc.’s shiny SoHo store, people packed in to listen to Steve Jobs’ biographers talk the iconic CEO’s life and legacy,” Jennifer Booton reports for MarketWatch. “On Thursday, Schlender read passages from his new book Becoming Steve Jobs and discussed in length with co-author Rick Tetzeli his memories of covering the visionary CEO and Apple during a several-decade stint at The Wall Street Journal and then Fortune.”

“But as it now should, the discussion shifted beyond just how the iPhone inventor should be remembered, to who the next great visionary might be,” Booton reports. “For longtime journalist and Jobs biographer Brent Schlender, the answer was an easy Elon Musk…. the Tesla Motors Inc. and Space-X CEO, and chairman of SolarCity Corp. for his space aspirations — Musk ultimately wants to set up a human colony on Mars — and electric car.”

Booton reports, “Musk, he says, has ‘the track record and ability to build enthusiasm and paint a beautiful picture of how the future should be,’ similar to the way Jobs could.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We shall see.

Related articles:
Ken Segall: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ is a better portrait of Steve as a complete human being – March 27, 2015
Why Apple feels the need to defend Steve Jobs – March 27, 2015
Tim Bajarin: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ the most accurate portrayal written to date – March 27, 2015
Apple execs, including Tim Cook, praise new Steve Jobs biography, and criticize an old one – March 23, 2015
Disney CEO Bob Iger kept Steve Jobs’s cancer a secret for three years – March 20, 2015
The evolution of Steve Jobs: It’s time to revisit — and correct — the myth – March 20, 2015
Apple CEO Cook blasts Isaacson’s ‘Steve Jobs’ bio as a ‘just a rehash; a tremendous disservice’ – March 17, 2015
Steve Jobs: ‘I just don’t like television. Apple will never make a TV again’ – March 13, 2015
Tim Cook reportedly offered Steve Jobs his liver, but Jobs refused – March 12, 2015
Gruber: ‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ is a remarkable new book – March 3, 2015

41 Comments

    1. I agree. Jobs looked at something that pretty much didn’t exist and created something out of virtually nothing. Musk has the money to finance things that people dreamed of a 100 years ago.

      1. Uhh last time I checked Steve looked at Woz’s design and had the vision to expand the personal computer experience. He did not invent the personal computer, mobile phone or tablet…yet through his actions these devices evolved and became a new ecosystem. There are a lot of parallels between Jobs and Musk. The Tesla Model S is a fantastic evolution of hardware and software. It’s expensive, a joy to use and it’s owners are near religious zealots about it…sound familiar?

  1. Can we just say… Next great living visionary. I mean we are talking once a decade or even longer. Someone else could come a long today, tomorrow, or in 500 years, and beat the pants off Elon… Just saying.

  2. “We shall see” Wow really? He is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity. He is the founder of SpaceX and a cofounder of Paypal, Inc, and he’s just 43. He’s also worth 11.7 Billion. I would call that a very good candidate to carry the Steve torch.
    I know many here don’t like him, because the see him as a greeny progressive, well so was SJ

    1. “I know many here don’t like him, because the see him as a greeny progressive, well so was SJ.”

      In other words, this website (for some inexplicable reason) attracts truckloads of ignorant yahoos. But we already knew that.

  3. Steve Jobs had the natural ability to speak to an audience. He could make you feel comfortable just by the tone and delivery of his voice. He could take an excruciatingly difficult techie topic and break it down so you felt comfortable and learned something new. He was a great communicator and teacher and we trusted him.

    There’s only 1 Steve Jobs. Let everyone else create their own legacy.

  4. Meh. When Elon Musk starts producing affordable mass-market electric cars, discrete solar panels that can power my entire house, and space travel that costs about as much as a plane ticket, then I’ll call him “the next great visionary”.

    Until then? Not a chance.

    1. Low expectations, huh?!

      The first one – electric car – is getting close. The second – affordable solar for your home – already exists and is still improving. And the last – space travel for the price of an airplane ticket – is a ridiculous fantasy that no one can achieve unless, perhaps, when antigravity combined with huge amounts of nearly free electric power become available. Use the rocket equation to figure out just the amount of propellant, alone, it takes to get to low Earth orbit:

      Minitial = Mfinal * exp(delta V / g * Isp)

      where Minitial is the liftoff mass, Mfinal is the burnout mass including the spacecraft, crew, and everything else placed into orbit, delta V represents ideal velocity change (use 30,000 ft/sec as an easy approximation), and Isp is specific impulse in seconds (use 425 sec as optimistic average value for the entire trajectory for hydrogen/oxygen). Then just enter your body mass for Minitial…pretty amazing how much propellant it takes to get to orbit.

      Granted, this is a single-stage calculation. You need two stages, at a minimum, and three helps even more, although the cost and complexity of the launch vehicle increases. But you can work that out yourself by dividing up the delta V and working backward from orbit to the ground where Minitial for each stage become part of Mfinal for the previous stage.

        1. Thank God you corrected that. If you had not, your calculation would have resulted in the singularity, which in turn would have created a black hole in the middle of your Mac’s display, sucking everyone and everything in your room into it. Had you not acted more quickly with your fix, we could have been doomed.

          Now I know why they call you KingMel. They weren’t kidding.

  5. I started following Steve in the late 70s. Never seen such a bright lucid spot-on luminous intelligence like Steve. And his core is passionate love and fascination with life. Keen power of observation, and deep thinking, and a strong internal sense of what is right and true. Spiritual connection with Steve so strong, not many ppl on the planet have that or can live by that inner compass.

  6. Hurray for futurism!

    But, as usual I have to point out what else is going on:
    – The point of having a colony on sterile, dry, deadly thin atmosphere Mars is WHAT exactly? Just so you can say you’ve been there? I see zero practical value.
    – What is the point of an electric car (kewl as i think they are!) if their electricity is coming from carbon fuels? (And kids, saying such carbon fuels are being used more efficiently with less CO2 emissions than gasoline is entirely missing the point! Isn’t it!)

    IOW: I’m still waiting for some seriously practical use for Mr. Musk’s concepts and creations. I’m patient!

    1. Let’s try thinking outside the box, shall we? An electric car may not reduce net carbon emissions but it would reduce them in traffic, where breathing humans cluster, thus reducing long-term respiratory ailments. Noise pollution is also reduced. A Mars colony would engender valuable research on extreme environments, a way station to points beyond, such as Titan. It would also afford escape from the insane tribal violence of Earth, for the few that could afford transport. Remote colonies have always represented the ultimate escape from oppression, a basic human need.

      1. I see your point about cars. But we can break the back of our carbon addiction right now. We have all the tech and the tools. What’s holding us back is the carbon fuel energy businesses, as simple as that. They ALLOW worthless ‘green’ technology because they know they’ll STILL get their carbon fuel dollars out of us. It’s a rigged game, a joke. Another example is the hilarity of the ethanol fuel scam. Just as much carbon fuel is spent making the ethanol as would be spent without the industry. Thus the ethanol-from-corn or other materials is a total joke and benefits no one but the farmers who grow the crops.

        Mars: I’ve covered that more than enough. Research: HURRAY! Shipping outrageously wealthy humans to air tight barns on Mars: WTF?

        1. Derek, all of us are effectively living in an “air-tight barn” right now, it’s called Earth. Some of the more profligate of the species are poking holes in it, and we’re running out of little dutch boys.

          1. That’s an interesting point of view! It’s amusing to realize that most of the holes being punch through the dike, letting in the outer chaos of the greater cosmos are being made in pursuit of game playing by a lot of lost people who don’t get the clue that we live in a REAL world with personal responsibility and consequences for bad choices.

            As for the ‘air-tight barn’ on Mars: I of course contrast that to the Earth where we can open the barn door and decide to breathe, go do some planting, or go frolic and play, or go see the sights, or anything else we choose. On Mars, as I’ve said, welcome to cabin fever deluxe with relief somewhere around 140,000,000 miles away depending upon the orbital positions of each planet. It is NOT my idea of a good time.

            1. Space exploration, and the experiences of having to live in places where every breath of air is considered, is widely regarded as what popularized (to the extent it is) the environmentalism movement. There’s nothing like trying to survive elsewhere that makes you get a visceral appreciation for wonderful a gift we have here on Earth. And, that would motivate you more to protect it.

    2. DC, you never cease to amaze me with the things that you “have to point out,” as if they are irrefutable wisdom. What was the point of journeying across the ocean? Across the “New World”? To the Moon in the 1960s? Eventually, if we don’t kill ourselves first, human beings will spread across the solar system to explore, obtain resources, and colonize planets and moons. The technology development that resulted from the Apollo Program fueled decades of advancements in computers, software, materials, communications, etc. is that of any value?

      Electric cars can be powered from renewable energy – solar, wind, water, wave. The electricity does not have to come from fossil fuels. And, as Melanie pointed out, even when the energy does come from fossil fuels, the end result can still be beneficial relative to ICE technology. For instance, fuel cells could be employed to generate the electricity.

      The “practical uses” will manifest over time. If you demand immediate, practical economic applications for everything, then we will not make those revolutionary leaps of genius.

      1. you never cease to amaze me with the things that you “have to point out,” as if they are irrefutable wisdom.

        No. It’s called self-deprecation, as in ‘get out of the way, I’m gonna blow!’ and everyone ducks and covers.

        I won’t go through the litany of motivators you provide. There are A LOT of reasons to go out and explore our solar system, and hopefully beyond. But taking a tourist trip to Mars isn’t one of them. I think of it as spending a $billion so you can go get cabin fever on some ball of dirt that is deadly to your existence and will kill you if you don’t follow strict protocols. If you enjoy that, then great! Otherwise, we’re learning a hellofalot of great stuff about Mars, exploring, by way of robots. Being there isn’t required for this sort of exploration.

        NO, electric cars at this point are NOT saving carbon unless the can charge up, trade batteries at an energy farm that does no consume carbon fuels. I want them to have a practical value in sustaining the planet. So far, that is EXTREMELY difficult and unlikely. We have a LOOOOONNNGGG way to go to get off the carbon addiction and the fuel oligarchy is going to fight us tooth and nail!

        Which ‘ICE technology’? There are at least half a dozen technologies that call themselves “ICE”. The joy of acronyms. 😛

        Fuel cells: Again, where does the ‘fuel’ come from? Was carbon burned to make the hydrogen? This crucial source energy is rarely considered. Beats me why!

        As for my obsession with ‘practical uses’: I’m a utilitarian by nature. It’s what I do. That won’t change. It’s me. You’re you. You have a different point of view that, like mine, contributes to the whole. Don’t ever expect me to be an absolutist at ANY time. I’m the one who eternally says “We never know everything about anything.” That statement is as absolute as I ever get. The rest is opinion, rhetoric, persuasion, insight, perspective, all from inside my head, just like everyone else. Tough luck if you don’t like how I share my opinion. I like how I share my opinion, again another point of view that is very ME. And ME is soooo kewl. 😉 That’s called ego. Everyone should have a strong and self-deprecating one. My greatest arguments are with MYself. 😀

    3. Hey Derek I was going to go to the beach today but when I got there was some nut case catching sea gulls, and breaking their left wings while chanting. “Now you can fly, now you can fly, first you’ll fly in 2014 then 2016”.

      It was kind of weird so I came back home, and got another shock after reading your post.

      “The point of having a colony on sterile, dry, deadly thin atmosphere Mars is WHAT exactly? Just so you can say you’ve been there?”

      There are many such points, some esoteric others indeed practical. Space research, which is what you are talking about has benefited telecommunications and weather forecasting just to name a couple.

      A more esoteric benefit is going there for no point at all. What would be the point of having everyone on the planet stop the fighting for a brief moment to gaze up to the stars are realize that First it was the Moon, then it was Mars? What would be the point of people realizing that proper use of two wings enables flight?

      Simply because it’s there and that we can, when we agree on a common path.

      Just some thoughts.

      Hurray for futurism!

      But, as usual I have to point out what else is going on:
      – The point of having a colony on sterile, dry, deadly thin atmosphere Mars is WHAT exactly? Just so you can say you’ve been there? I see zero practical value.
      – What is the point of an electric car (kewl as i think they are!) if their electricity is coming from carbon fuels? (And kids, saying such carbon fuels are being used more efficiently with less CO2 emissions than gasoline is entirely missing the point! Isn’t it!)

      IOW: I’m still waiting for some seriously practical use for Mr. Musk’s concepts and creations. I’m patient!

      1. breaking their left wings while chanting. “Now you can fly, now you can fly, first you’ll fly in 2014 then 2016

        Metaphor appreciated.

        As for my utilitarian attitude toward shipping a bunch of rich people to Mars: No apology from me. Research? Yes please! Let’s send another probe to Titan ASAP please! That place fascinates me. But I won’t want to live there, no way.

        1. Don’t let’s send a bunch of rich people to Mars, that exacerbates our current social quandary. Instead let’s do a lottery funded by the oligarchs. As was done in the sci-fi classic When Worlds Collide. In that film at the last moment the alpha oligarch succumbed to sentiment and allowed a poor person to go in his place. (Childhood memory of the film may be faulty)

          1. I don’t think I’ve ever seen all of ‘When Worlds Collide’. But I found it online!

            http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmu085_when-world-collide_shortfilms

            There is a similar theme in the recent film ‘After The Dark’ (2013, aka ‘The Philosophers’). I’ve seen it a couple times and very much enjoy it. That also can be seen online. I won’t give the direct URL or victims of YouTube’s autoplay will eviscerate me. So here’s the partial URL at YouTube:

            watch?v=Rs_ELR1V1pQ

            The acting is remarkable, the scenarios unrealistic but mind bending.

          2. *watching When Worlds Collide*
            There’s an excellent scene when the pilot decides to burn a bank note. He woke up out of the financial gaming world we maintain as an elaboration upon the human behavior of sharing and got back down to Earth to remember the source behavior and the point of sharing. It’s not to accumulate lots of tokens of wealth.

    4. Derek, consider the owner of a Tesla Model S who also has solar panels on his house, and a battery storage system to capture excess power generated for use at night. It’s happening increasingly and is a big push by the solar industry, both for homes and commercial properties.

      It is indeed possible to fuel an electric car using the power of the sun, not fossil fuels. It is and will be more common. So while doubters want to throw water on the whole environmental argument now, over time, that argument will become far less impactful.

      Besides, a Tesla owner would be happy to take on an owner of a gas-belching big engined car to a drag race. If you’ve ever seen videos like this one between a Tesla Model S and a Dodge Viper RT on a drag strip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLCdP6sMN9k), you can see that an electric car can kick serious butt.

      That said, I doubt that you’ll be converted. Your mind is already made up.

      1. Thank you Brian, excellent points. I have been of course talking about plugging one’s electric car into the usual electric outlets.

        I’m always amused by the ‘you’ll never be converted *stamp*my*feet*’ stuff because it, in itself, yells that the person saying it demands change to their POV. Have fun with that. Meanwhile, as I consistently point out: I’m the guy who suspects all ‘truth’ to be deceptive. That’s because I’m human.

    5. Ah, guys. Solar?

      We charge our Leaf with solar and it works great. With the drop in the cost of solar, anyone can. Maybe that’s why Musk is in that business too?

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