How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

A decade later, Elon Musk has become more frequent in the public eye. A brief look back at Musk’s timeline over the years reveals that this is not just a psychological phenomenon: Musk does appear more often. Let’s go back ten years. At the time, Tesla had only one car: the Roadster; SpaceX had not yet won a commercial manned contract for NASA; Neuralink, a company trying to create a commercial brain-machine interface, did not exist; and tunnel technology company Boring Company did not exist.

Sina Technology Xinghai Wood

A decade ago, Musk’s only splash was forced to leave PayPal. Although Tesla’s 2008 Roadster sports car, with its excellent acceleration performance, has won the hearts of a car enthusiast, the Roadster is, ultimately, a niche product. In addition, both SpaceX and Tesla were on the brink of bankruptcy in 2008. So Musk may still be the musk, but a decade ago Musk didn’t get the attention it is today.

Then, in 2010, Musk brought three big events that laid the groundwork for more in the future: in June, SpaceX successfully launched its first Falcon 9 rocket, Tesla successfully launched, and in October, Tesla took over MINUM’s plant in Vermont, California.

Since then, the number of incidents related to Musk has increased. Some are inevitable: SpaceX and Tesla have stepped into new businesses, launched new products and become increasingly popular. All this means that Musk’s statement has taken on new weight and is gradually taking up more media space. All this means that Musk needs to make frequent appearances: because Tesla doesn’t advertise, branding is all about “cyber celebrities” Musk.


SpaceX became the first private company to successfully dock the International Space Station (ISS) in May 2012, following the first launch of the Falcon 9 in 2010. The Dragon spacecraft became one of NASA’s main routes to deliver supplies to ISS. By April 2015, SpaceX had successfully carried out seven ISS missions. In 2014, NASA and SpaceX signed a deep partnership to develop a manned Dragon spacecraft.

History is rewritten again in 2015. In December, SpaceX successfully recovered its first rocket. Until then, there will be doubts about Musk’s so-called “recyclable rocket” concept – and even now there is doubt that recycled rockets are a reasonable way to cut costs (because the cost of refurbishing them is not low). But in any case, after the rocket’s first soft landing, SpaceX successfully recovered a stage rocket again and again, and people are taking a soft landing as a matter of course. In December 2017, SpaceX successfully launched and recalled the company’s first second-hand rocket. In 2018, SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, which will send Musk’s Tesla Roadster into orbit.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Of course, SpaceX’s rockets have not been plain sailing. In June 2015, a Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes after launch due to a malfunction in the rocket’s superior liquid oxygen tank stand. In September 2016, a second rocket exploded on the launch pad while filling it with fuel — this time because of a hint of vandalism. The explosion was eventually determined to be a helium tank, carbon fiber composites and solid oxygen. The two explosions delayed SpaceX’s other launch plans because the company had to investigate the cause of the accident. In 2017, SpaceX had its third explosion, and this time it was only the engine exploded on the test bench that didn’t affect other launch schedules. In April 2019, a beta manned Dragon spacecraft exploded, the company’s fourth explosion.

In September 2016, Musk proposed a plan to colonize Mars. In the hour-long presentation, Musk introduced the “Interstellar Transport System”: a spaceship and a rocket (and, of course, there are still many questions to be resolved after the presentation). Musk updated the system in 2017 and said he intended to devote all of SpaceX’s resources to the Mars colonization plan;

SpaceX’s development has been accompanied by changes in the rocket launch market. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president, said the commercial market for satellite launches was “relatively weak” in 2017 and 2018. This has caused a lot of trouble for SpaceX’s plans. Company financial documents since 2015 show that SpaceX is expected to carry out more than 40 launches; In 2019, SpaceX had expected 52 launches (almost one rocket a week) – but in fact only 12 were carried out, two of which were planned by the end of the year.

The slowdown in the commercial satellite market – and the reduction in the number of rockets needed to launch these satellites – means SpaceX needs to recalibrate its plans. Since SpaceX is still a private company, there is no need to disclose its plans, and everything can only be speculative.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Musk and ex-Zeyou

Perhaps that’s why SpaceX is involved in space travel. In 2018, Musk announced that Yusaku Maezawa, founder of Zozotown, Japan’s largest online clothing retailer, would be the company’s future ship, Starship, the former Interstellar Transport System. The first private client to make a trip around the moon. But it may not be a good idea to pin his hopes on such a billionaire, as in May, the former Zeyou tweeted that he was bankrupt.

SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan later bought Zozo, the online fashion retail brand of Former Zeiyou, for $3.7 billion. Therefore, travel should not be cancelled.

Space travel is not SpaceX’s only money-making strategy. SpaceX is also counting on starlink’s foray into telecommunications, with broadband services expected to begin as early as next year (for which we can make the following reference: In 2011, Musk said he would send humans into space within three years). Today, in 2019, no one has flown a SpaceX rocket. Starlink is said to be a cluster of at least 12,000 near-Earth orbits, although SpaceX originally requested an additional 30,000 satellites. Astronomers have some concerns about the project.

SpaceX launched 60 of its satellites in May, partially failing; SpaceX’s 2015 financial filings predict that Starlink’s revenue will be significantly higher than that of its rocket launch business. At the moment, with the frequency of launches slowing down, Starlink seems to be more important to SpaceX’s success or failure. (But it’s still just speculation, because the financial situation of private companies is hard to know.) In any case, in October, Musk wrote on Twitter that he intended to send a tweet using Starlink. “Wow, it worked!” He wrote.

If Starlink is successful, the 2020s will undoubtedly be a new era for SpaceX: companies will move toward the consumer business.


Tesla went public in June 2010; it raised $226.1 million from the open market. Tesla is in desperate need of cash. Tesla has been on the brink of bankruptcy since the 2008 financial crisis. The company has only one car, The Roadster, and has never been profitable. But all this will change in the next decade. As the information of public companies becomes more transparent, we can also better understand Tesla’s trajectory.

It’s also the decade of Tesla’s Vermont, California, plant. Every Tesla car made in the past decade has come from the Vermont plant. Without that plant, Tesla would not have been able to deliver the Model S (launched in November 2012), model X (launched in September 2015) or Model 3 (July 2017). The Model S, priced between $57,400 and $77,400, was supposed to go into production in 2010, but actual production was delayed until 2012. This delay will become the norm in the future: model X debuted in February 2012 as an SUV starting at $132,000, but the SUV didn’t start production until early 2014;

Then the Model 3 got into trouble again. At the March 2016 launch, Musk said the Model 3 was the company’s first mass-produced affordable electric vehicle: the base sold for just $35,000. A week later, Tesla began accepting bookings for the Model 3. A total of 350,000 people have booked the Model 3, Tesla said.

Given that less than 51,000 vehicles were delivered at the Vermont plant in 2015, doubts are raised about Tesla’s manufacturing capacity. In a 2016 conference call, Musk’s initial plan to produce model 3 included turning the Vermont plant into an “alien fearless warship” — a machine to make cars. But things aren’t going well. In 2018, Musk acknowledged that Tesla relied too heavily on robots to make model 3 electric cars, which was why manufacturing progress has repeatedly delayed and led to the model 3’s final launch in July 2017.

But even if Model 3 is in production, the bottleneck remains unresolved. The Vermont plant is in overload mode, like a “production hell”. In 2018, Musk set up a tent there. The tent became another production line.

At the same time, workers at the Vermont plant complained. Between 2014 and 2017, the Vermont factory called more than 100 ambulances for reasons such as fainting, dizziness, epilepsy, respiratory abnormalities and chest pain,media reported. “Hundreds of ambulances were called because of injuries and other medical problems,” the report said. Another 2017 report noted that Tesla workers are twice as likely to be injured as the average injury. In 2019, workers on the tent production line say they are being forced to take shortcuts to meet production targets.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Media report that Tesla plant is “production hell”

Worker discontent means the emergence of trade unions; Jose Moran, a Tesla employee, issued a lengthy complaint about Tesla’s work environment in 2017 in Medium, saying he thought Tesla should form a union. At first, Musk claimed that Moran was more of an employee of the United Auto, Aviation and Agricultural Workers International Union (UAW) than a Tesla employee. By 2018, the National Labor Relations Board is also stepping in to investigate Musk’s tweets (“Why pay union dues and give up stock options for free?” He tweeted in May 2018) and other evidence. In September 2019, Tesla and Musk were accused of violating labor laws.

Even though Vermont is Tesla’s main production base, Musk’s manufacturing ambitions have prompted him to plan several new plants. Nevada’s Unfinished SuperPlant One opened in July 2016; In August 2016, SolarCity’s acquisition will bring Tesla’s second plant, SuperPlant II. In January 2019, Tesla’s Shanghai Superplant broke ground, and by October, Tesla could n’go. Super Factory IV is planned in Berlin.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Tesla Shanghai Super Factory

The emergence of super factories has also caused a lot of controversy. In 2018,media reported that the battery retirement rate (or rework rate) at the super factory was as high as 40%. The man who leaked the information was allegedly Martin Tripp, a factory assembly line worker. In an e-mail to employees, Musk said Tripp was involved in “massive disruptive subversion,” according to Bloomberg. In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a former security manager named Sean Gouthro said Tesla acted unethically in its investigation of the leakers. Tesla terminated Mr. Guterres’s contract, citing poor performance.

Then there’s Super Factory 2. New York State spent $958.6 million on the plant, which was then reduced to $75 million in book value. Some factories say they find the working environment there worse.

Of course, the SolarCity acquisition in 2016 means far more than the factory; it’s a new line of business and a potential conflict of interest. (Shareholder litigation has not been resolved, shareholders claim that SolarCity was on the verge of bankruptcy before the acquisition, and that “trusts with conflicts of interest” offered a false price.) Tesla and Musk deny the allegations. SolarCity’s founders, Lyndon and Peter Rive, are Musk’s cousins. Musk was also chairman of both companies when Tesla bought SolarCity, and is also SolarCity’s largest shareholder.

SolarCity was then the largest player in the residential energy sector. But sunrun and Vivint have since moved ahead of SolarCity, according tomedia reports in June. Perhaps, as Musk noted in a statement, SolarCity is lagging behind because most of Tesla’s resources are spent on Model 3 production. (Tesla says the number of batteries supplied by Panasonic is a “base board” that limits production.) Or maybe people are just tired of waiting for Solar Roof, a new product that Musk announced when he bought SolarCity. Three years on, this product has not become a real consumer product. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that Wal-Mart’s lawsuit, which has now been dropped, involves a series of solar panel fires.

Energy storage and solar panels are likely to evolve into a Tesla business over the next decade. Tesla has successfully built the world’s largest battery in Australia to help the country’s power grid. In the future, Tesla may build a bigger battery in California. The company has also launched a new industrial storage battery pack. In California, many energy companies have had to cut off power because of wildfires, and power supplies in the affected areas are unlikely to return any time soon. That may provide an opportunity for Tesla’s consumer energy business.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?


Sometimes, The pressure on Tesla comes from Musk himself, as the company deals with Musk’s troubles. On August 7, 2018, Musk tweeted: “Consider privatizing Tesla for $420, and the money is already secure.” But on August 24th Musk abandoned the plan. A month later, the SEC sued Musk for claiming that “funds are secured” and that was not the case. “In fact, Musk has not discussed any key terms, including price, with any potential sources of funding, let alone confirmation,” the prosecutor complained. Two days later, the lawsuit was settled: Musk had to step down from Tesla’s chairmanship, and Tesla and Musk each paid $20 million in fines. In addition, the SEC has asked Tesla to regulate Musk’s Twitter.

Either way, Tesla made a profit in the last two quarters of 2018, the first time it has made a profit for two consecutive quarters. In the second quarter of 2019, although Tesla lost money again, the number of cars manufactured and delivered in the quarter hit a record high. Tesla made another profit in the third quarter, the first time the company has made a profit in the third quarter. On Tesla’s growth path, skeptics have never dismissed doubts that the company’s business cannot last. There was opposition, there was danger, but Tesla didn’t fall and continue dying. Model Y and Cybertruck will be available in the next 10 years, and Tesla has a chance to tell its opponents that you’re wrong; Either way, the journey must have been exciting.

Other business

In the last 10 years, Musk has set up two companies: Neuralink, which specializes in brain-machine interfaces, and Boring Company, a tunneling company. In their day-to-day work, the two companies don’t get much of Musk’s love. In December 2019, Musk went on trial for Twitter defamation, when he said Tesla and SpaceX accounted for 95 percent of their time. In any case, Neuralink and Boring Company are worth paying attention to, because musk’s mind has a sci-fi worldview that can be expanded by both companies.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Boring Corporation

Neuralink was officially established in 2016, about 10 years after humans used the brain-computer interface to move the cursor across the screen. In 2017, Neuralink appeared in public view, and Musk detailed the company’s goal: to make computers accessed by people with disabilities, to make telepathy possible, and to transplant human thought stoain into AI systems.

Musk’s dream is big.

In 2019, we’ll learn more about Neuralink technology, which wants to implant flexible threads into the brain. Musk announced that Neuralink experimented with monkeys so that they could control computers with their brains. Neuralink is not yet mature, and in general, biotechnology takes more than a decade from initial research to commercial use, during which time many studies will emerge to define technology in depth.

Boring Company is growing faster than Neuralink. In January 2017, Musk tweeted that Traffic in Los Angeles was “driving me crazy” and that he wanted to start a company called Boring Company.

You think he’s joking? Not also. It was the hole that built SpaceX to dig a hole in the parking lot, which gave Musk the idea of setting up Boring Company. Boring Company shows off test tunnels at a party in 2018. Three potential projects were under way at the time, and Boring Company wanted to dig tunnels at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Chicago and DC, Washington. Boring Company was also planning to dig a tunnel on Manhattan’s West Side, which was rejected by citizens and community groups, and boring company was eventually dismissed.

In 2019, when Chicago’s new mayor takes office, the Boring Company tunnel project’s status declines. Las Vegas, however, was active, with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority signing a $48.6 million contract with Boring Company to dig the tunnel. In November 2019, the project will break ground and is expected to be completed by CES in 2021.

Musk Benzun

From 2010 to 2019, Musk also did other important things, such as participating in OpenAI and super-high-speed rail projects.

The concept of super-high-speed rail emerged in 2012, with more specific details in 2013. Musk has told the public that although he designed the super-high-speed rail, he has no intention of making super-high-speed rail, many people jumped out to set up a super-high-speed rail company, Musk has no intention of stopping. According to the original plan, the super high-speed rail car can travel at 800 miles per hour (about 1,287 kilometers). Musk later built a test track, a mile long, outside SpaceX’s headquarters, and in 2015 organized a student design competition. These activities seem a bit like a “hackathon” and, of course, the possibility of recruiting talent. Eventually the first real super-high-speed rail line could be built in India, so let’s hope.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Super High-Speed Rail Design

Musk also came along with AI. Despite many AI experts who believe AI’s capabilities may be limited, Musk cautions that we should be wary of ultra-intelligent, human-hating AI. In 2014 he said: “We are calling the devil. “It wasn’t long before Musk and other industry executives created OpenAI, which aims to help humans develop friendly AI. At first OpenAI was one of a billion dollars in money from technology companies and industry executives. Musk left OpenAI’s board in February 2018 because Tesla was developing driverless cars, a move that could conflict with OpenAI’s work, and despite his departure, Musk has pledged to continue funding OpenAI. Now OpenAI has been handed over to Sam Altman, a former president of Y Combinator.

If you think Musk’s idea is a bit of a surprise, it’s even more incredible. In 2016, Musk said, “We have a one in a billion chance of being in the ‘basic reality’.” “Do humans really live in simulations?” Obviously, Musk has a lot of thinking about this issue. The so-called “basic reality” may be the concept put forward by the philosopher Nick Bostrom in 2003, but Musk’s tone may sound more certain than Bostrom’s. In fact, many computer scientists have talked about this view.

Later, Musk invested $2 million to set up a company called Thud. In March 2018, Musk tweeted that he had partnered with some former Onion employees to set up Thud, and Musk said, “What’s certain is that we can’t learn anything from current trends, so we’re setting up a whole new comic book project.” “By December 2018, Musk told the team that it would not be donating any more money to fund it. Teams have been hit and a money-making strategy must be developed within six months, as money will run out of money soon. In May this year, Thud closed.

In December 2019, Musk was brought to court for defamation. Musk is suing diver Vernon Unsworth, a Thai soccer team member and coach who was involved in the rescue. Musk also wants to contribute to the rescue, he built a “mini-submarine” that he hopes will save children from the cave. In an interview with CNN, Mr. Onsworth said the mini-submarine was a “PR stunt” that was “impossible” and an exasperated Musk lashed out at Mr. Onsworth on Twitter, calling him a paedophile.

Musk later publicly apologized and deleted the post, but Onsworth did not forgive Musk, who felt he had been hurt. The trial was held in Los Angeles for a week, and Musk won the case. He got up and was so happy that he drove his Cybertruck prototype to Nobu restaurant with his girlfriend, pop star Grimes, on the weekend.

There’s so much information that we may have missed a lot of things. When it comes to Musk, we often hear people say, “Is this guy serious?” “Yes, the rocket is real, the car is real, the tunnel is real, the lawsuit is true to some extent. In the face of the product, Musk has set a timetable that is a bit wishful thinking, and many times it’s a departure from reality.

For Musk, “surprise” is important, he’s the CEO, not just the CEO, he’s an influential celebrity. When interviewed, he would swallow and smoke marijuana; he would rub shoulders with the president, the media, the hip-hop singers; he would mock people who hated himself; he would send Aroader into space and live on the Internet.

How did Musk turn himself into an internet celebrity in a decade?

Musk smokes marijuana on podcast

There were a lot of new celebrities in the 2010s who had a lot of influence on social media, and Musk seemed to be the kind of celebrity. He relies heavily on YouTubers and, like previous celebrities, enjoys cross-border activities. He has a legion of fans, like Taylor Swift and PewDie Pie. Like most influential people, Musk seems to like surprises and surprises, and uses social media (and his own reputation) to market his marketing. This is important for Tesla, who doesn’t have to invest in advertising. Indeed, some of Musk’s actions were absolutely spontaneous, and even so, they played a marketing role, making fans feel that Musk was approachable. Besides Musk, which big CEOs talk to fans on Twitter about animation, and who else will randomly pick fans to communicate? According to Jay Z, Musk is more than just a businessman, he’s like a mixture of “business” and “man.”

Musk will still dance his way and is unlikely to stop. There’s no technology to predict Musk’s behavior, so we can only keep watching. I really want someone to help us predict Musk’s next step, but before that, if you want to know him, it’s best to keep an eye on Musk’s Twitter: because he’s there a lot more frequently than anywhere else.

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