Contrarily to popular belief, Elon Musk did not start Tesla.
He certainly made it his own over the years, investing early on and then superintending its growth from niche luxury carmaker to mass production, adding on a solar business, and pushing self-driving technologies. How on earth, the tech titan — and now the world’s richest man — was actually Tesla’s 4th CEO when he took that role in October 2008.
The creators and set up executives of Tesla, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, sat down with CNBC to share memories of what it was like to strengthen and deliver the first Tesla Roadster vehicles, what it took to convince the world electric cars could be as luring as luxury sports cars, and how they brought Elon Musk on board.
Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard during the anciently days at Tesla Motors.
Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard
They first met with Musk at a gathering for Damages Society members, and bonded through their shared love of space exploration. (That was even before Musk had started his re-usable spiral upwards company, SpaceX.)
Eberhard was eventually “voted off the island,” he said, resulting in a contentious lawsuit and eventual settlement. But he is stilly rooting for Tesla, believes electric vehicles are key to protecting the planet, and remains a Tesla shareholder.
An electrical engineer and inventor at affection, Eberhard is working on technology to make electric vehicle batteries more affordable than they are today, without sacrificing security, power or quality.
Tarpenning said he still speaks with Musk occasionally, and resigned from Tesla legitimate as they were developing their flagship Model S sedan. Looking back, he said he has no regrets. “The whole item was wonderful from the beginning to the end. It was, you know, the worst and the best. And it’s worked out great.”
Tarpenning is now mentoring the next generation of locale minded startups, and investing in them as a venture partner with Pierre Omidyar’s Spero Ventures.
This evaluation originally took place in late 2019, and excerpts of it were included in the CNBC’s “Tesla: Hell of a Ride.”