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Before Elon Musk reaches Mars, SpaceX may need to survive …

On clear mornings, the mirror-like skin of a rocket ship catches the sunrise and bounces the early light into the bedroom of Maria and Ray Pointer.

Maria, a 64-year-old Alaskan native who has lived in Boca Chica, Texas, since 2005, said she finds herself gazing at the vehicle while juicing oranges or making breakfast.

“I get to look at this shiny sunrise, this orange sun glisten off of a rocket ship,” she said. “It’s like a picture book for a child, you know? You turn the page and there’s the rocket ship.”

The vehicle belongs to SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by Elon Musk. It’s a prototype of Starship, a rocket-launch system that may stand nearly 400 feet when completed.

SpaceX’s experimental stainless-steel Starhopper rocket ship in Texas. A person is shown at the bottom for scale.Elon Musk/SpaceX via TwitterMusk views Starship (formerly called ” Big Falcon Rocket”) as the heart of SpaceX’s future. It’s designed to be the largest and most capable rocket system in history, and also the cheapest to launch.

So far, SpaceX has based most of Starship’s skunkworks-style development program out of south Texas, far from the company’s California headquarters.

Starhopper, as Musk dubbed the first prototype, squared perfectly in the Pointers’ west-facing windows. The company recently crawled the gleaming, 60-foot-tall rocket past their yard and onto a launchpad less than two miles from their home.

In April, the vehicle completed its first “hops,” short test launches of perhaps a foot or two off the ground, which proved the ship worthy of tougher trials.

Completed Starship vehicles would have two main sections. A lower stage, or booster, called Super Heavy, would help propel an upper-stage spaceship, Starship, far above the Earth. The spaceship would then detach, ignite its Raptor rocket engines, and shoot into orbit.

According to Musk, one Starship may carry 100 people and 150 tons of cargo to the surface of Mars. There, the ship would refuel on methane and oxygen created from Martian resources before returning to Earth.

Developing this system at the company’s remote and privately controlled Texas facility comes with several advantages. The area is fairly close to the equator, which adds a natural speed boost to rockets. SpaceX’s autonomy over the site also gives the company more flexibility in scheduling launches, privacy from competitors, and greater freedom in how it uses the land.

But launching a skyscraper-size rocket from this area (engineering challenges notwithstanding) is no trivial undertaking. For one, any future flight path must avoid populated islands. The bay-bottom mud and sand below SpaceX’s site also cause dense structures and tall towers tend to sink and lean. Gulf Coast weather is a challenge, too, as SpaceX recently saw when gale-force winds damaged its Starhopper.

And then there are the 20 or so people, like the Pointers, who live in or near Boca Chica Village. For them, the unparalleled view of the experimental rocket program, while stirring, is also foreboding.

“Most of us came down here are here because we’re retired and wanted a nice quiet place to live,” Sam Clauson, a part-time resident of Boca Chica Village, said.

A distant view of SpaceX’s Starhopper rocket ship prototype from Highway 4 in Boca Chica, Texas.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

That quiet has been broken. The area is morphing from a sleepy beach community into an industrial site, and possibly an active Mars spaceport. Starhopper’s first “hop” was so loud that it knocked off part of a window treatment inside the Pointers’ house. (That test involved one Raptor engine, though 31 are planned for the booster.)

The disruptive roar of rocket engines also serves as a reminder that an explosion could happen nearby. The Pointers, the Clausons, and their Boca Chica neighbors sit no more than two miles from SpaceX’s current launch pad likely the closest anyone on the planet lives to such a site.

Still, it appears SpaceX is staking a good chunk of its future on south Texas.

Highway 4 dead-ends at Boca Chica Beach, just east of SpaceX’s launch site.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

SpaceX’s Texas facility is about five miles south of South Padre Island, a popular destination for spring breakers, and about 17 miles east of Brownsville, the largest nearby city and one of the most impoverished in the US.

One two-lane road, Highway 4, runs to the site. The route begins at Gateway International Bridge on the US-Mexico border; east of Brownsville, it’s mostly desolate and uninhabited. Border patrol planes fly over a handful of farms, and plaques mark historic sites, such as the Battle of Palmito Ranch, arguably the last conflict of the Civil War. (The Confederates repelled Union forces, though several days after the war technically ended.)

SpaceX’s private ownership and operation of the site is a key advantage: It gives the company far more autonomy and flexibility to do launches and speed up experiments than SpaceX would have at a government-controlled site. The lack of competitors’ facilities in the area also reduces the risk of trade secrets inadvertently getting into the wrong hands. (Though residents and visitors often post photos of work at the site online.)

A satellite view of Boca Chica, where SpaceX is building a rocket launch site. Google Earth; Landsat/Copernicus

Plus, Boca Chica is one of the US’s southernmost locations, which offers SpaceX a meaningful advantage in rocket-fuel economy. At the equator, the Earth’s surface moves laterally at about 1,040 mph. At the planet’s north axis, its velocity is zero. So the closer a rocket is to the equator, the more free momentum it can pick up during launch, and the more fuel it can reserve.

At Cape Canaveral, Florida where SpaceX launches most of its rockets Earth’s eastward surface velocity is about 914 mph. In Boca Chica, the speed is a slightly faster 935 mph. Both sites provide about 5% of the velocity a rocket needs to get to orbit, and every ounce of fuel saved allows for a larger payload, more wiggle room in flight paths, and greater assurance that a mission will succeed.

These and other perks have spurred SpaceX’s interest in Boca Chica since at least May 2012. That’s when the company scooped up its first property in the area via its shell company, Dogleg Park LLC (a “dogleg” is a course-changing rocket maneuver). Over the next three years, Dogleg acquired more unclaimed and derelict plots from Cameron County in part by paying off decades of back taxes. The company also mailed letters to homeowners about buying them out.

In 2014, with the support of county and state officials, SpaceX went public with its plan to convert those plots into a spaceport. By then, the company had bought or leased nearly 100 acres of land. SpaceX has since acquired dozens of additional acres.

An overview of the Boca Chica area in Texas circa 2017. Google Earth

Carlos Cascos was the judge who signed off on SpaceX’s original plan to develop the Boca Chica site. He said Musk seemed to look at the area as a kind of “genesis project” for bringing economic opportunities to south Texas.

“He wanted to go in an area, improve it improve the working conditions, living conditions by bringing in a substantial company,” Cascos said.

Musk told Texas legislators in 2014 that Boca Chica could become a “commercial version of Cape Canaveral.”

To woo SpaceX to follow through on that vision, Cameron County and the state freed up incentives totaling about $15 million. SpaceX bit, and the Federal Aviation Administration granted final approval in July 2014.

Musk and SpaceX are developing a stainless-steel rocket ship called Starship. Kimi Talvitie; NASA; Mark Brake/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Musk is hungry to establish a city on Mars and back up humanity like a hard drive in case asteroid strikes, nuclear war, climate disruption, or other cataclysms befall Earth. He seems to believe people should be exploring space with abandon.

Musk hopes to establish a self-sustaining Martian base by 2050, and Starship is essential to that plan.

If Starship materializes according to Musk’s plans, it would become the largest and most affordable spaceflight system ever built. That’s because it’s intended to be fully reusable. Big, multimillion-dollar rocket parts wouldn’t get discarded as in most launch systems today. Achieving this level of reusability, Musk says, would undercut the per-ounce cost of launching payloads on SpaceX’s own go-to rocket, Falcon 9, by a factor of 5 to 10.

An illustration of SpaceX’s upcoming Starship spaceship (left), Super Heavy rocket booster (right), and an integrated Starship-Super Heavy launch system. Kimi Talvitie

From a business standpoint, the ramifications of a functional Starship would be sweeping and staggering. SpaceX could use the system to speed up its effort to remake the internet by deploying hundreds of telecommunications satellites in a single launch. Starship would also make NASA’s forthcoming monster rocket, called Space Launch System, seem archaic. Plus, the economics of the Starship threatens to bankrupt some of SpaceX’s biggest private competitors.

But the system is not yet real. Musk has said it could take between $2 billion and $10 billion to get there, though an aerospace industry analyst told Business Insider that upper range could easily balloon to $20 billion if SpaceX hits major setbacks.

So far, the company has built functional, powerful Raptor rocket engines perhaps the most critical piece of the system and it’s making vehicle prototypes to attach them to (like Starhopper). Both experimental vehicles have been welded together from panels of stainless steel, each about as tall and wide as a person. Once assembled, these prototypes will enable SpaceX to see whether its engines can push a multimillion-pound spacecraft into orbit.

One of SpaceX’s orbital-class Starship prototypes gets assembled in Boca Chica.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

The Pointers’ home is sandwiched between those checkboxes on SpaceX’s to-do list. Next to a warehouse-size tent, workers are building a follow-up prototype to Starhopper that could be capable of reaching orbit. A nosecone was recently attached to the new prototype’s hull.

Yet SpaceX’s journey to this point has not been a walk in the park.

Musk breaks ground on SpaceX’s launch site in Boca Chica, Texas, with congressman Filemon Vela (left) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry on September 22, 2014.Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

During a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2014, Musk and then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry plunged shovels into a pile of sandy dirt and posed for photographers.

“It could very well be that the first person that departs for another planet could depart from this location,” Musk said that day.

He told reporters that SpaceX expected to spend about $100 million developing the site. The original plan was to develop an operational spaceport by 2017 and launch up to two Falcon Heavy and 10 Falcon 9 rockets a year.

The company underestimated the task.

In its original plans for the site, SpaceX was to erect four lightning towers around a launchpad to draw any would-be strikes away from the rocket. Designs also called for a tower capable of flooding the pad with 250,000 gallons of water during lift-off, a trick used to dampen dangerous levels of noise and vibration that could threaten a launch.

A map, circa May 2014, showing SpaceX’s plans to develop part of Boca Chica into an active spaceport for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rocket launches. SpaceX/Federal Aviation Administration

But Brazos Island, where SpaceX built its first launch pad in the area, is essentially a giant sandbar. Its porous soil allows ocean water to seep in and out with the shifting tide. Digging down just a few feet down can reveal a soupy, salty, gritty muck.

SpaceX kicked off construction by drilling for bedrock, which could help anchor a dense launch pad. It never found any.

“There was no way for the company to have known this prior to purchasing the land,” SpaceX said.

Susan Hovorka, at the University of Texas, has studied the state’s coastal geology. She said the idea of bedrock doesn’t apply to the Gulf Coast. To geologists, she said, bedrock implies a kind of sharp break in the density of deposits, usually between soil and a stony layer.

“In areas like the Gulf Coast, where deposition has been ongoing, there is not sharp break,” Hovorka said.

SpaceX’s earliest Mars rocket ship prototype, called Starhopper, sits on a launchpad after its first launch in April 2019.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Concrete pilings can support large structures in soft soil, and SpaceX’s construction plans called for hundreds of them. But John Hancock, who led a wetland-reclamation project in the area in 2006, said he was “flabbergasted” that anyone would try to build anything large near Boca Chica Beach.

“Where the pad is, that’s all bay bottom there is no bottom,” he said. “Back in 2006, there was a tower that was built on Padre Island. Before it was ever occupied, it started leaning, and they had to blow the thing up.”

SpaceX eventually decided to “surcharge” or compact the ground at its launch site. Contractors dumped about 310,000 cubic yards of soil enough to cover a football field with 13 stories of dirt.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 explodes during a test on the launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida on September 1, 2016.USLaunchReport/YouTube

The company said the move created ground that was “more suitable” for dense foundations, but added that the process delayed the company’s schedule.

The losses of Falcon 9 rockets in 2015 and 2016 also drew SpaceX’s time and resources away from Boca Chica. As a result of all these challenges, the company’s original plan and schedule for the site went into the waste bin.

During a May 2018 teleconference, Musk said the Texas facility would be dedicated to Starship instead of the commercial spaceport it had previously pitched. SpaceX workers began swarming the site later that year.

In March, just before the debut of Starhopper, Musk said on Twitter that SpaceX was “working on regulatory approval” for Starship launches from Boca Chica as well as Florida.

A sign points to one of SpaceX’s launch site facilities in Boca Chica.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

After lifting off of a launch pad, rockets don’t fly straight up into space; they turn and accelerate somewhat parallel to Earth’s surface.

It takes about eight minutes to reach low-Earth orbit, and on their way vehicles reach tremendous speeds. Within a minute of launch they can exceed the speed of sound, and a minute or so later they reach speeds five times that fast.

This means if something goes wrong, a failed launch can send high-speed wreckage raining back down. (Even when a rocket mission succeeds, falling rocket parts still pose a risk.) To avoid putting any people in danger, orbital-class rockets launched from SpaceX’s Texas site would have several unique obstacles to avoid in their flight path.

In a white paper published in 2014, experts Edward Ellegood and Wayne Eleazer flagged numerous issues that they said the FAA did not fully address when it granted SpaceX approval for the Boca Chica site.

A map shows potential rocket flight paths from Boca Chica.Edward Ellegood and Wayne Eleazer/Space Traffic Management Conference

One of the biggest challenges, they said, would be avoiding flying over Cuba, southern Florida, and the Yucatan Peninsula, as well as smaller islands in between. The study added that oil rigs also pepper the Gulf of Mexico, several major aircraft flight paths cut across it, and the water has heavy boat traffic.

“Falling vehicle components and payloads from failed launch attempts, or debris from their aerodynamic or commanded breakup, can damage aircraft in flight and structures on the ground as well as injure individuals,” Ellegood and Eleazer wrote. “In addition, some debris may detonate on impact, producing a blast hazard, or may act as firebrands to initiate fires on impact.”

Mitigating these hazards might limit the orbits SpaceX could access, or at the very least incur complexity and cost.

Ellegood and Eleazer also flagged a hazard on the ground: weather.

“High ground-level winds may result in the vehicle being tipped over,” they wrote. The warning turned out to be prophetic.

SpaceX’s “test hopper,” an experimental stainless-steel ship, after it was built in Texas (left) and an illustration of the vehicle. A person is shown at the bottom to provide a sense of scale.Elon Musk/SpaceX via Twitter; Business Insider

On January 5, Musk published a striking rendering of a Starhopper prototype, complete with a nosecone and a human figure for scale. Six days later, he posted an incredibly similar image, but this time it was real.

“Starship test flight rocket just finished assembly at the SpaceX Texas launch site,” Musk tweeted. “This is an actual picture, not a rendering.”

As the internet awed at the shiny vehicle, however, a cold front was preparing to push south from Canada, bringing powerful winds.

Without a building in which to house its new prototype, SpaceX anchored Starhopper in an operations yard next to the Pointers’ home. But when 50-mph gusts arrived on January 23, the nosecone blew off like a hat.

“It was nothing but rattling and metal and trees breaking it felt like a hurricane,” Pointer said the next morning. “Everything SpaceX did to get ready for this storm worked against them. It looked like they blocked the wind coming from the southeast, but the winds shifted in the night and came from the northeast, and that sucker went flying.”

The nosecone or top portion of SpaceX’s Starhopper prototype blew off its base on January 23, 2019, leading the company to scrap the part.Maria Pointer (bocachicaMaria)

Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service based in Brownsville, said strong winds are typical in south Texas.

“The cold air has nothing to stop it coming out of southwestern Canada or northwestern Canada, driving down the plains,” he said. “To see wind gusts at gale force, which is roughly 40 mph during the winter, is not an uncommon occurrence.”

These winds, he added, are a problem SpaceX is “going to have to manage.”

The company also has to factor in a phenomenon called wind shear the difference in the speed and direction of wind at one altitude versus another. When a rocket screams beyond the speed of sound, the changing wind speeds are like extreme turbulence. Musk once said high wind shear can hit a rocket “like a sledgehammer.”

“We could have a day where the winds at Boca Chica beach and the SpaceX site may be 10 mph or less from the east. And then just 3,000 to 5,000 feet above the surface, it could be howling out of the south at 35 knots or 40 mph,” Goldsmith said.

This nuisance can be avoided by waiting until a different day to launch a rocket, but Goldsmith said SpaceX might face that possibility more in Texas than at its Florida launch sites.

On top of these day-to-day weather issues, Texas’ Gulf Coast also has a history of devastating cyclones.

Parts of south Texas, like Arroyo City, were inundated by Hurricane Beulah on October 8, 1967.Ted Powers/Associated Press

In 1967, Hurricane Beulah made landfall near the spot where SpaceX’s new launchpad sits. The storm pushed a 15- to 20-foot storm surge over Padre Island and killed at least 58 people. In 2008, Hurricane Ike severely damaged the Pointers’ home, even though Boca Chica did not take a direct hit.

Goldsmith said SpaceX should expect a direct hurricane hit every 15 to 40 years. In that case, storm surge could be a big concern, since Brazos Island is coastal and close to sea level. NOAA’s storm-surge-vulnerability maps suggest SpaceX’s properties could be deluged by more than 9 feet of seawater if a Category 5 hurricane makes landfall there.

But Goldsmith guessed that the company will have hurricane mitigation plans in place, such as a means to raise, move, or lock down equipment. Indeed, SpaceX now appears to be constructing a building to shelter its prototypes.

A view of Weems Road in Boca Chica.Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Rockets launch from dozens of spaceports around the world. If people live close by, site operators often evacuate the population prior to launch. But no other spaceport confines a local village inside of it the way SpaceX’s does in Boca Chica.

Some area residents own homes about 1.5 miles from SpaceX’s launch pad. By comparison, Florida’s Kennedy Space Center has a three-mile safety limit from a blast wave.

“The reason for that limit was there was the assumption was everything goes to hell in a handbasket at once,” said Bob Sieck, who served as launch director for more than 50 space-shuttle missions and now volunteers on NASA’s Safety Advisory Council. He added that in his opinion, for a full-scale Starship, “two miles is too close it’s cutting it too close.”

Despite this proximity, Clauson said the last official meeting that SpaceX held with villagers was several years ago.

“We were just all citizens trying to find out what the hell is going on, and what are we going to have to put up with? And are we going to be safe here? Are we going to lose our land?” he said.

Things went south during the meeting, according to Clauson.

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Before Elon Musk reaches Mars, SpaceX may need to survive …

Hive: Elon Musk News, In-Depth Articles, Photos & Videos …

Most entrepreneurs are lucky to have one billion-dollar company to their name. Elon Musk, Americas real-life Tony Stark, has four. Perhaps best known as the C.E.O. and founder of the private aerospace company SpaceX and C.E.O. and co-founder of electric carmaker Tesla Motors, Musk isnt shy about his ultimate ambitions: helping to save the planet by shifting the world economy to sustainable energy. But, like any savvy billionaire, Musk is hedging his bets, too, by working actively to establish a human colony on Mars.

If anyone can bring humanity into the interplanetary age, its Musk. Born in South Africa to an electrical engineer father and model Maye Musk, he developed an interest in computer programming at an early age, selling the code to a video game he had developed to a magazine when he was just 12 years old. In 1992, Musk moved to the United States, where he received a dual degree from the University of Pennsylvania in physics and economics, before flying west to Stanford to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics. Two days into his program, he dropped out to become an entrepreneur. His first start-up, a software company called Zip2, sold to Compaq four years later, in 1999, for more than $300 million in cash, with more than $30 million in stock options.

A millionaire many times over at the age of 28, Musk didnt hesitate before starting over again with X.com, a financial services business that quickly merged with the company that would become PayPal. Two years later, the payments processing start-up was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock, netting Musk another $165 million. But by then, Musk was already dreaming bigger. In 2002, he poured $100 million of his fortune into founding SpaceX, a private aerospace company with the goal of making spaceflight affordable by building the first reusable rocket. And in 2004, he got involved with Tesla Motors, leading a series A funding round and joining its board as chairman. That limitless ambition nearly cost him everything. During the financial crisis in 2008, after he had become C.E.O. of Tesla, both companies were on the verge of failure and Musk was deep in personal debt trying to keep them afloat. But Musk is the most risk-immune person Ive ever met, recalled venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, a friend and managing partner at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, the renowned venture capital firm, who has backed both efforts, in an interview with Esther Dyson for Business Insider. Hes really an American hero, more than anyone Ive ever met.

SpaceX and Tesla both pulled through, thanks to Musk and an assist from the U.S. government, which gave him a $1.6 billion NASA contract and offered generous green energy subsidies on Teslas first production car, the blistering fast, all-electric Roadster. Today, SpaceX is the largest private producer of rocket motors in the world, and Tesla is onto its third-generation vehicle, the Model 3, which has already secured about $15 billion in pre-order sales, according to the company. SolarCity, another company Musk co-founded and for which he is the largest shareholder, is now one of the top two residential solar contractors in the U.S. Musk, obviously, is not taking a break from success. His next mission? Landing a rocket ship on Mars, as early as 2018.

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Hive: Elon Musk News, In-Depth Articles, Photos & Videos …

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic …

“Ashlee Vance’s new book, ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,’ is a tremendous look into arguably the world’s most important entrepreneur. Vance paints an unforgettable picture of Musk’s unique personality, insatiable drive and ability to thrive through hardship.” – The Washington Post

“It is the book I have enjoyed most this year.” – Tyler Cowen, famed economist and best-selling author

“The best business book I have read in years.” – Don Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post

“Exhaustively reported . . . this work will likely serve as the definitive account of a man whom so far we’ve seen mostly through caricature. By the final pages, too, any reader will sense the need to put comparisons to Steve Jobs aside. Give Musk credit. There is no one like him.” – The New York Times

“Ashlee Vance’s portrait of the entrepreneur at mid-life is an essential read . . . a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneur since Steve Jobs.” – The Financial Times

“The result is a book that is smart, light on its feet and possesses a crunchy thoroughness. . . . Mr. Vance delivers a well-calibrated portrait of Mr. Musk, so that we comprehend both his friends and his enemies. It’s a book with many ancillary pleasures. Mr. Vance brings us up to date on the states of green energy and space launches. He also veers away from his subject just often enough, offering profiles of the frequently brilliant people who work alongside Mr. Musk The best thing Mr. Vance does in this book, though, is tell Mr. Musk’s story simply and well.”- The New York Times

“Really good biographies stand out in two ways. First, they provide lots of zesty stories that haven’t been told before. Beyond that, they explain all the zigzags and false clues of a prominent person’s life, in a way that makes the total picture come into focus. . . it’s clear that this new Musk bio delivers the goods in both respects. . . Ashlee Vance provides a wealth of insights about how this tech titan operates.” – Forbes

“Vance’s lively book yields all manner of fascinating insights about Musk’s companies, his vision, and his personal life.” – Slate

“Of the many profiles of business leaders, Vance’s take on Musk is among the best. The author’s objective and unbiased viewpoint captures Musk’s good and bad, his achievements and failures.” – The Motley Fool

“Vance’s book is a masterful piece of reporting.” – Vice

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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic …

Elon Musk | SpaceX

Elon Musk leads Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), where he oversees the development and manufacturing of advanced rockets and spacecraft for missions to and beyond Earth orbit.

Founded in 2002, SpaceXs mission is to enable humans to become a spacefaring civilization and a multi-planet species by building a self-sustaining city on Mars. In 2008, SpaceXs Falcon 1 became the first privately developed liquid-fuel launch vehicle to orbit the Earth. Following that milestone, NASA awarded SpaceX with contracts to carry cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS). A global leader in commercial launch services, SpaceX is the first commercial provider to launch and recover a spacecraft from orbit, attach a commercial spacecraft to the ISS and successfully land an orbital-class rocket booster. By pioneering the development of fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft, SpaceX is dramatically reducing the cost of access to space, the first step in making life on Mars a reality in our lifetime.

Elon also leads Tesla, which makes electric cars, giant batteries and solar products.Previously, Elon co-founded and sold PayPal, the world’s leading Internet payment system, and Zip2, one of the first internet maps and directions services, which helped bring major publishers, including the New York Times and Hearst, online.

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Elon Musk | SpaceX

Elon Musk – Forbes

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Mar 1, 2019

At its core, the Ripple business model is a pump and dump scheme, as it undergoes numerous activities to increase the value of the XRP cryptocurrency (crypto). Unlike most crypto pump and dumps, however, Ripple takes numerous steps to obscure this basic fact.

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Elon Musk – Forbes

John McAfee Vows to Reveal Bitcoin’s Creator

Infamous tech entrepreneur John McAfee says he's going unmask Bitcoin's creator, but the clues he's shared so far do little to narrow the field.

Maker Unmasked

Infamous tech entrepreneur John McAfee says he’s going to tell the world who created Bitcoin — and if he keeps his word, he’ll be answering perhaps the biggest lingering question in cryptocurrency.

On Wednesday, McAfee took to Twitter to announce his plan to continue sharing clues about the true identity of “Satoshi Nakamoto,” the pseudonymous handle used by the creator of Bitcoin, until either the creator reveals himself or McAfee reveals him.

“I protected the identity of Satoshi,” McAfee tweeted. “It’s time, though, that this be put to bed. Imposters claim to be him, we are spending time and energy in search of him — It’s a waste.”

We’re Waiting

Whether McAfee actually knows the true identity of Bitcoin’s creator is anyone’s guess. But so far, he’s taken to Twitter to claim that Satoshi is male and lives in the United States. He’s also not the CIA, a government agency, computer scientist Nick Szabo, tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, or a brunette.

Oh, and yeah, he’s also alive.

My Name Is

So, to pull some rough numbers, the U.S. is home to about 156.1 million males and about 1 million of those work for the nation’s government. Say about 50 percent are brunettes — that leaves us with ~77.5 million potential Satoshi Nakamotos.

If McAfee wants anyone to believe he actually knows who created Bitcoin — or he wants to pressure the real Satoshi into revealing himself — he’s going to have to narrow the field down a bit more than that.

“Yes, I drink, use drugs, chase women, run from the law — which I have done since I was 19,” he tweeted, in defense of his ability to name the elusive programmer. “But it does not obviate the fact that I created a great company whose focus was stopping hackers. I had to know hacking. I am still John Fucking McAfee.”

READ MORE: John McAfee Triggers Countdown to Unmask Bitcoin Creator Satoshi Nakamoto [CCN]

More on John McAfee: A Real Whodunnit: Tech Eccentric John McAfee Claims Enemies Poisoned Him

The post John McAfee Vows to Reveal Bitcoin’s Creator appeared first on Futurism.

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John McAfee Vows to Reveal Bitcoin’s Creator

Professor: Total Surveillance Is the Only Way to Save Humanity

Nick Bostrom, author of

Big Brother

The Oxford philosopher who posited 15 years ago that we might be living in a computer simulation has another far-out theory, this time about humanity’s future — and it’s not exactly optimistic.

On Wednesday, Nick Bostrom took the stage at a TED conference in Vancouver, Canada, to share some of the insights from his latest work, “The Vulnerable World Hypothesis.”

In the paper, Bostrom argues that mass government surveillance will be necessary to prevent a technology of our own creation from destroying humanity — a radically dystopian idea from one of this generation’s preeminent philosophers.

Black Balls

Bostrom frames his argument in terms of a giant urn filled with balls.  Each ball represents a different idea or possible technology, and they are different colors: white (beneficial), gray (moderately harmful), or black (civilization-destroying).

Humanity is constantly pulling balls from this urn, according to Bostom’s model — and thankfully, no one has pulled out a black ball yet. Big emphasis on “yet.”

“If scientific and technological research continues,” Bostrom writes, “we will eventually reach it and pull it out.”

Dystopian AF

To prevent this from happening, Bostrom says we need a more effective global government — one that could quickly outlaw any potential civilization-destroying technology.

He also suggests we lean into mass government surveillance, outfitting every person with necklace-like “freedom tags” that can hear and see what they’re doing at all times.

These tags would feed into “patriot monitoring stations,” or “freedom centers,” where artificial intelligences monitor the data, bringing human “freedom officers” into the loop if they detect signs of a black ball.

Two Evils

We’ve already seen people abuse mass surveillance systems, and those systems are far less exhaustive than the kind Bostrom is proposing.

Still, if it’s a choice between having someone watching our every move or, you know, the end of civilization, Bostrom seems to think the former is a better option than the latter.

“Obviously there are huge downsides and indeed massive risks to mass surveillance and global governance,” he told the crowd at the TED conference, according to Inverse. “I’m just pointing out that if we are lucky, the world could be such that these would be the only way you could survive a black ball.”

READ MORE: An Oxford philosopher who’s inspired Elon Musk thinks mass surveillance might be the only way to save humanity from doom [Business Insider]

More on Bostrom: Philosopher Hadn’t Seen “The Matrix” Before Publishing Simulation Hypothesis

The post Professor: Total Surveillance Is the Only Way to Save Humanity appeared first on Futurism.

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Professor: Total Surveillance Is the Only Way to Save Humanity

Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Former Tesla and clinic employees share how doctors blocked workers' compensation claims and put injured people back to work to avoid payouts.

Here’s A Band-Aid

Tesla’s on-site clinic, Access Omnicare, has allegedly been downplaying workers’ injuries to keep the electric automaker off the hook for workers’ compensation.

Several former Tesla employees, all of whom got hurt on the job, and former employees of Access Omnicare, told Reveal News that the clinic was minimizing worker injuries so that the automaker wouldn’t have to pay workers’ comp — suggesting that the barely-profitable car company is willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the red and avoid negative press.

Back To Work

Reveal, which is a project by the Center for Investigative Reporting, described cases in which employees suffered electrocution, broken bones, and mold-related rashes while working in a Tesla factory — only for Omnicare to deny that the injuries warranted time off work.

The clinic’s top doctor “wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” former Omnicare operations manager Yvette Bonnet told Reveal. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

Missing Paperwork

Meanwhile, employees who requested the paperwork to file for workers’ comp were repeatedly ignored, according to Reveal.

“I just knew after the third or fourth time that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” a former employee whose back was crushed under a falling Model X hatchback told Reveal. “I was very frustrated. I was upset.”

The automaker is on the hook for up to $750,000 in medical payments per workers’ comp claim, according to Reveal‘s reporting.

Meanwhile, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Laurie Shelby, the company’s VP of safety, have publicly praised Access Omnicare, Reveal found. Musk even recently announced plans to extend it to other plants, “so that we have really immediate first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

READ MORE: How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp [Reveal News]

More on Tesla: Video Shows Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters

SpaceX successfully landed all three of its Falcon Heavy boosters during the rocket's second launch ever, marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

The Falcons Have Landed

The second time is apparently the charm for SpaceX.

In February 2018, Elon Musk’s space company launched a Falcon Heavy rocket for the first time, but it wasn’t able to recover all three of the rocket’s boosters — rather than landing on SpaceX’s autonomous drone ship like it was supposed to, the center core splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops.

On Thursday, the company attempted its second Falcon Heavy launch, and this time it nailed the landing of all three boosters — marking a new milestone in reusable rocketry.

Watch SpaceX's #FalconHeavy rocket lands its center core on a ship for the first time ? pic.twitter.com/VltoKVaAox

— CNET (@CNET) April 12, 2019

Democratizing Space

The Falcon Heavy is currently the most powerful launch vehicle in operation. Because SpaceX designed the rocket to be reusable, it can keep the cost of launches lower than would otherwise be possible — and cheaper launches mean more launches, thereby advancing humanity’s efforts to study, explore, and exploit space.

Now that SpaceX has proven it can successfully recover all three Falcon Heavy boosters, it can start looking ahead to the five launches already on the rocket’s manifest — and the others that will likely follow.

Falcon Heavy’s side boosters land on Landing Zones 1 and 2 pic.twitter.com/nJCCaVHOeo

— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 12, 2019

READ MORE: SpaceX launches mega rocket, lands all three boosters [Phys.org]

More on Falcon Heavy: The Falcon Heavy Launched. Here’s What’s Next for SpaceX.

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SpaceX Milestone: Company Lands Three Falcon Heavy Boosters

Tesla Says Autopilot Is Statistically Safer Than a Human Driver

A new Tesla safety report reveals an increase in Tesla crashes, but engaging Autopilot cuts the likelihood of a fender bender.

Good News/Bad News

Tesla’s latest quarterly safety data report is a mixed bag of good and bad news.

According to the report, which Tesla released this week, crashes involving the company’s vehicles are on the rise. Not great.

However, when Autopilot is engaged, Teslas are less likely to get into crashes, signaling that human drivers may benefit from an artificial intelligence safety boost. And even with Autopilot switched off, the likelihood of a Tesla getting into a crash is still less than the national average — a sign that Tesla’s efforts to make its cars the safest in the world appear to be paying off.

Crunched Number

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Tesla reported one accident for every 2.91 million miles driven with Autopilot engaged. The first Tesla safety report of 2019 shows that rate increasing slightly, to one accident every 2.87 million miles.

However, both of those figures are better than the statistics for Teslas without Autopilot engaged: one accident for every 1.76 million miles driven in Q4 2018 and one every 1.58 million miles driven in Q1 2019.

Teslas with or without Autopilot engaged also appear substantially safer than the average car, based on the new Tesla data. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most recent data, there’s an auto crash every 436,000 miles driven in the United States.

READ MORE: Tesla releases new Autopilot safety report: more crashes but still fewer than when humans drive [Electrek]

More on Autopilot: Elon Musk: Teslas Should Have “Full Self-Driving” by End of 2019

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Tesla Says Autopilot Is Statistically Safer Than a Human Driver

Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Former Tesla and clinic employees share how doctors blocked workers' compensation claims and put injured people back to work to avoid payouts.

Here’s A Band-Aid

Tesla’s on-site clinic, Access Omnicare, has allegedly been downplaying workers’ injuries to keep the electric automaker off the hook for workers’ compensation.

Several former Tesla employees, all of whom got hurt on the job, and former employees of Access Omnicare, told Reveal News that the clinic was minimizing worker injuries so that the automaker wouldn’t have to pay workers’ comp — suggesting that the barely-profitable car company is willing to do whatever it takes to stay out of the red and avoid negative press.

Back To Work

Reveal, which is a project by the Center for Investigative Reporting, described cases in which employees suffered electrocution, broken bones, and mold-related rashes while working in a Tesla factory — only for Omnicare to deny that the injuries warranted time off work.

The clinic’s top doctor “wanted to make certain that we were doing what Tesla wanted so badly,” former Omnicare operations manager Yvette Bonnet told Reveal. “He got the priorities messed up. It’s supposed to be patients first.”

Missing Paperwork

Meanwhile, employees who requested the paperwork to file for workers’ comp were repeatedly ignored, according to Reveal.

“I just knew after the third or fourth time that they weren’t going to do anything about it,” a former employee whose back was crushed under a falling Model X hatchback told Reveal. “I was very frustrated. I was upset.”

The automaker is on the hook for up to $750,000 in medical payments per workers’ comp claim, according to Reveal‘s reporting.

Meanwhile, both Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Laurie Shelby, the company’s VP of safety, have publicly praised Access Omnicare, Reveal found. Musk even recently announced plans to extend it to other plants, “so that we have really immediate first-class health care available right on the spot when people need it.”

READ MORE: How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ comp [Reveal News]

More on Tesla: Video Shows Tesla Autopilot Steering Toward Highway Barriers

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Report: Tesla Doc Is Playing Down Injuries to Block Workers’ Comp

Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

During the unveiling of Tesla's highly anticipated Model Y, CEO Elon Musk announced that the company would focus on its Solar Roof and Powerwall in 2019.

Looking Up

During the unveiling of Tesla’s highly anticipated Model Y Thursday night, CEO Elon Musk shared his vision for his company’s immediate future — and it had little to do with cars.

“This is definitely going to be the year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall,” he told the audience, according to Inverse — a sign that Tesla is shifting its focus from the road to the home, with the ultimate goal of creating a fully sustainable future.

Pretty Picture

In August 2017, Tesla gave the world its first glimpse of an installed Solar Roof, and it looked, well, a lot like any other roof. But that was the point — Tesla’s solar tiles didn’t have the jarring appearance of many home solar panels.

That aesthetically pleasing design — combined with the tiles’ affordability and “infinity warranty” — had solar energy expert Senthil Balasubramanian predicting Tesla would be a “game changer” for clean energy.

With the exception of the occasional massive battery project, though, we haven’t heard much about Tesla’s home energy products since then. The company spent much of 2017 and 2018 focused on getting through the Model 3’s “production hell” and dealing with the fallout from Musk’s latest public misstep.

Under One Roof

But now that Model 3 production is humming along, Tesla has the bandwidth to shift some of its engineering focus back to its Solar Roof and home batteries, according to Musk — and that should go a long way toward helping the company meet its ambitious goal of a more sustainable energy system.

“Solar plus battery plus electric vehicles, we have a fully sustainable future,” Musk told the audience Thursday. “That’s a future you can feel really excited and optimistic about. I think that really matters.”

READ MORE: Tesla Solar Roof: Elon Musk Declares 2019 Will Be the Year of the Roof [Inverse]

More on Tesla: Solar Expert Predicts Tesla Will Be a “Game-Changer” for Clean Energy

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Elon Musk: 2019 Will Be “the Year of the Solar Roof”

Elon Musk: $47,000 Model Y SUV “Will Ride Like a Sports Car”

A Familiar Car

First, it was supposed to feature Model-X-style “falcon wing” doors, and then it didn’t. It was supposed to be built in the Shanghai factory, but that didn’t work out either.

Tesla finally unveiled its fifth production car, the Model Y, at its design studio outside of Los Angeles Thursday evening.

“It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said during the event. “So this thing will be really tight on corners.”

Bigger than the 3, Smaller Than the X

Yes, acceleration is still zippy: zero to 60 in 3.5 seconds.

But the vehicle is less than revolutionary. It’s arguably the company’s second crossover sports utility vehicle, after the Model X, and it borrows heavily from the company’s successful Model 3. In fact, 75 percent of its parts are the same, according to CEO Elon Musk.

The back of the Y is slightly elevated in the back for a roomier cargo space. A long-range model will feature seven seats — just like the Model X, despite being slightly smaller. Range: still 300 miles with the Long Range battery pack, thanks to its aerodynamic shape.

It will also be “feature complete” according to Musk, referring to the fact that the Model Y will one day be capable of “full self-driving” that he says “will be able to do basically anything just with software upgrades.”

10 Percent Cheaper

As expected, the Model Y is ten percent bigger and costs roughly ten percent more than the Model 3: the first Model Y — the Long Range model — will be released in the fall of 2020 and will sell for $47,000. A dual-motor all-wheel drive version and a performance version will sell for $51,000 and $60,000, respectively.

If you want to save a buck and get the ten-percent-cheaper-than-the-Model-3 version, you’ll have to wait: a Standard Range (230 miles) model will go on sale in 2021 for just $39,000.

Overall, the Model Y seems like a compromise: it’s not a radical shift, but it seems carefully designed to land with a certain type of consumer — and, if Musk is to be believed, without sacrificing Tesla’s carefully-cultivated “cool factor.”

Investors seemed slightly underwhelmed, too — the company’s stock reportedly slid up to five percent after the announcement.

READ MORE:  Tesla unveils Model Y electric SUV with 300 miles range and 7-seats [Electrek]

More on the Model Y: Elon Musk: Tesla Will Unveil Model Y Next Week

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Elon Musk: $47,000 Model Y SUV “Will Ride Like a Sports Car”

Mitsubishi’s New Hybrid Can Power Your Home During a Blackout

Bi-Directional Charging

In the future, your car will charge your house.

That’s according to Japanese carmaker Mitsubishi, which is working on a solar platform — including a sizable home battery, charger and solar panels — called Dendo Drive House. The twist: it can use the company’s lineup of plug-in hybrid cars to store extra power.

It’s a futuristic concept: when the sun shines, both your car and home charge up at the same time thanks to a “bi-directional charger.” If you’re stuck with no power from the electric grid, your home is able to use up your plug-in hybrid car’s remaining battery reserves.

In its promotional video, Mitsubishi argues it might even save you some money — you can chose to charge your home from the grid at night, when electricity prices are lower.

The Engelberg Tourer

The reveal came alongside the announcement of Mitsubishi’s Engelberg Tourer, a “next-generation crossover SUV concept” at this year’s Geneva Motor Show.

The Tourer is meant to skip the need for charging infrastructure altogether, according to the press release, thanks to its generous battery pack — and of course the Dendo Drive House platform with its bi-directional charging capability.

It’s not the first time the idea has cropped up: Tesla CEO Elon Musk mentioned the idea in a July 2018 tweet, pointing out it might make sense for his electric vehicle company to “revisit” the idea.

Like many concepts of its kind, there’s no guarantee Mitsubishi’s SUV and the Dendo Drive House platform will ever be released to the public.

While Tesla has already shown the benefits of mounting a massive home battery packs to your garage wall, the efficiency of home solar panel technology still has a way to go.

But who wouldn’t want to save some money on their energy bills while ensuring that their energy demands are met even during a power outage?

READ MORE: This SUV powers your house–and your house powers this SUV [Fast Company]

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft Splashes Down in the Atlantic

Welcome Home

Mission Demo-1 is officially complete.

After successfully undocking from the International Space Station in the early morning hours and burning through Earth’s atmosphere, SpaceX’s passenger spacecraft slowly descended back down to Earth, before safely splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean — and right on schedule at 8:45 am EST.

.@SpaceX’s #CrewDragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45am ET, completing an end-to-end flight test to the @Space_Station and back as part of our @Commercial_Crew Program. Learn more: https://t.co/MFB7dVb60c pic.twitter.com/8lFL6X3Tue

— NASA (@NASA) March 8, 2019

The Descent

Crew Dragon’s descent was slowed thanks to four large parachutes it deployed once it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronauts loaded roughly 300 pounds (136 kg) of cargo from the ISS into the spacecraft on Thursday to send back down to Earth.

SpaceX successfully launched the spacecraft on Saturday. It marks the first time a passenger spacecraft launched from American soil to the ISS — and returned safely back down to Earth — since the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program in 2011.

Mission Accomplished

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon docked itself, with no robotic arm required, to an open port of the International Space Station early Sunday morning. It then spent five days docked to the station while astronauts checked out the inside of what could one day become their ride back home.

A lot could’ve gone wrong. The cargo Dragon variant featured a different parachute system and had a differently shaped hull.

“I see hypersonic re-entry as probably my greatest concern,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said during a post-launch press event on Saturday.

In July, SpaceX is hoping to send the Crew Dragon capsule back into space — but this time with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board.

READ MORE:

More on Crew Dragon: Expert: SpaceX Just Made Russia’s Space Program “Null and Void”

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft Splashes Down in the Atlantic

Elon Musk

Musk was accepted to a graduate program at Stanford, but deferred attendance to launch his first business, software company Zip2.

In 2015 Musk gifted 1.2 million Tesla shares to his foundation, which spent $480,000 in late 2018 to provide clean drinking water to schools in Flint, Michigan.

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Elon Musk

Elon Musk Doesnt Need to Be Tesla CEO, Top Shareholder …

Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

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Tesla stock has been falling since Thursday, when CEO Elon Musk said the company would be closing its stores in favor of an online-only sales model.

On Tuesday, with the stock down again, the companys largest outside shareholder expressed its support for Musk, but acknowledged that it was open to a different role for the Tesla (ticker: TSLA) founder and CEO.

We wouldnt be against him having a different role, James Anderson, head of global equities for Ballie Gifford, told Barrons. I dont think he needs to be CEO.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is set to face extradition hearings in Canada after the U.S. charged her with crimes related to violating sanctions against Iran. WSJs Shelby Holliday explains three things to know about the case. Photo: AP

Anderson was answering a question about how Musks circumstances could change given the Securities and Exchange Commissions request to a federal court to find Musk in contempt.

Tesla stock closed down 3.1% Tuesday, to $276.54 per share, as the broader S&P 500 was flat.

Anderson said Musk was essential to Tesla, but he suggested that the companys founder could play some other role within the company, such as taking on a chief ideologue position.

A Tesla spokesman didnt immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla stock is down 13% since the company made its online sales announcement last Thursday. On a call with reporters, Musk also acknowledged the company would not be profitable in the first quarter.

The new sales strategy came only days after the SEC said it was asking a federal judge to find Teslas CEO in contempt of court. The SEC action followed a recent round of Musks tweets where he seemed to mislead investors about Teslas 2019 production, before correcting himself a few hours later.

Investors have long traded alongside Musk, with shares falling in and out of favor based on his behavior. Through it all, the companys largest outside shareholder, Baillie Gifford, has remained a steadfast supporter. The firm, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, currently owns 13 million shares, or 7.7% of Teslas stock, valued at $3.8 billion. Baillie Gifford is Teslas second largest shareholder, behind Musk, who owns 19.7% of the stock.

The firm has been building its stake in Tesla since 2013, according to FactSet, rarely selling shares.

On Tuesday, Musk tweeted that the companys decision to hold a press-only call to announce its lower priced Model 3 and its change in strategy with regard to sales was a mistake.

Write to Alex Eule at alex.eule@barrons.com

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Elon Musk Doesnt Need to Be Tesla CEO, Top Shareholder …

Elon Musk

Musk was accepted to a graduate program at Stanford, but deferred attendance to launch his first business, software company Zip2.

In 2015 Musk gifted 1.2 million Tesla shares to his foundation, which spent $480,000 in late 2018 to provide clean drinking water to schools in Flint, Michigan.

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Elon Musk

SEC options to rein in Elon Musk include leaning on Tesla and …

The Securities and Exchange Commission is between a rock and a hard place, experts say, in deciding what to do about what it told a judge on Tuesday is Elon Musks violation of the clear and unambiguous terms of a legal settlement the Tesla CEO made in October.

You cant stop Tweeting Elon from tweeting, but that might not be such a big problem if he exercised good judgement, Matt Kelly, editor of the Radical Compliance newsletter and a long-time observer of corporate governance and compliance issues, told MarketWatch. Instead, he repeatedly displays a deliberate, open and defiant attitude towards the role of the SEC in protecting investors from his recklessness.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton argued at the time of the original October settlement that taking Musk out of Tesla may also harm investors, since he is so important to the company. That would be anathema to the regulators mission to protect investors.

The October settlement with the SEC resolved a fraud charge resulting from tweets Musk made about a potential Tesla take-private transaction. The SEC said in its legal filing that the requirement was necessary to prevent Musk from recklessly sending out false or inaccurate information ever again. Musk and Tesla TSLA, -3.20% had promised the SEC that the CEO would start getting pre-approval for any communications, including tweets, that might contain information material to Tesla or its shareholders.

But four months later, on Feb 19, Musk tweeted out a forecast of automobile production that was not consistent with what the company had reported in its recent earnings release and conference call.

The companys attorney, Brad Bondi, confirmed to the SEC that Musk had not sought or received pre-approval for the inaccurate tweet that was sent out to his 24 million Twitter followers.

On Tuesday U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan ordered Musk to explain by March 11 why he should not be held in contempt for violating the settlement agreement.

The SEC enforcement action was ultimately settled not just against Musk but also against Tesla, Kevin LaCroix, an attorney and executive vice president at RT ProExec, an insurance intermediary focused exclusively on officer and director liability issues, told MarketWatch.

I would think the SEC has the right to return to court to reopen the matter as to the company, too. The settlement with the company agreed to a number of measures regarding the companys board (Musk to step down as chairman, independent directors to be appointed). The SEC could say that the companys boards is falling short on supervising Musk and that violate the purposes and intent of the agreement, LaCroix told MarketWatch.

Read: Tesla finally launches $35,000 Model 3, and moves all sales online

See: Opinion: Elon Musk thinks layoffs will keep Tesla profitable as $35,000 Model 3 arrives

Tesla, the company, also agreed to adopt a senior executives communication policy that would spell out who would approve Musks communications and how that process would work. The policy, dated Dec 11, 2018, says that the board would appoint its general counsel and disclosure counsel, or in the case of unavailability, its CFO, to be the ones who could pre-approve Musks utterances.

Neither Tesla nor Bondi responded to whether the board appointed Jonathan Chang, the companys new general counsel, and Zach Kirkhorn, the companys new CFO to be Musks tweet-minders.

The SEC also required Tesla to add two new independent board members as part of the settlement. Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, who spent 17 years as an executive at the Kellogg Company, and currently serves as the executive vice president and global chief human resources officer of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, joined the Tesla board.

Ellison disclosed he owns 3 million shares in Tesla and has also admitted he and Musk are close friends.

The SEC has more power to force change than it lets on, Kelly told MarketWatch. It wasnt that long ago that the SEC forced Elizabeth Holmes to relinquish her control of Theranos, as settlement for fraud allegations. The board has the power to rein in Musk, even fire him. The SEC could use its enforcement leverage against Telsas independent directors to force more discipline.

The SEC can inform the board they want them to take a more active role in reigning in Musks tweets and other social media activity, said Betsy Atkins, a leading public company director serving on the board of Wynn Resorts WYNN, +0.36% , Schneider Electric SBGSY, +0.48% and Volvo Cars.

However, if I were the regulator, I would leverage Musks desire to stay on as CEO and a board member. I suspect hed be very unhappy with a 5-year ban on serving on a public company board, including Tesla.

Thats one of the SECs potential remedies, she said.

Atkins believes that market forces will cause the correction needed before any regulatory sanction, even a bigger fine for Musk, does. If I were on that board, I would be very concerned and want the company to buy additional liability insurance for directors, Atkins told MarketWatch. Plaintiffs attorneys are already circling and at some point the current directors and officers insurance carrier may become fatigued and potentially unwilling to immunize the board from the public and private litigation.

See also: Tesla makes record $920 million payment for convertible bond

Read: Even if guilty of contempt, Teslas Elon Musk unlikely to get harsh penalty, experts say

Want news about Asia delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Asia Daily newsletter. Sign up here.

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SEC options to rein in Elon Musk include leaning on Tesla and …

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic …

“Ashlee Vance’s new book, ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future,’ is a tremendous look into arguably the world’s most important entrepreneur. Vance paints an unforgettable picture of Musk’s unique personality, insatiable drive and ability to thrive through hardship.” – The Washington Post

“It is the book I have enjoyed most this year.” – Tyler Cowen, famed economist and best-selling author

“The best business book I have read in years.” – Don Graham, former publisher of The Washington Post

“Exhaustively reported . . . this work will likely serve as the definitive account of a man whom so far we’ve seen mostly through caricature. By the final pages, too, any reader will sense the need to put comparisons to Steve Jobs aside. Give Musk credit. There is no one like him.” – The New York Times

“Ashlee Vance’s portrait of the entrepreneur at mid-life is an essential read . . . a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneur since Steve Jobs.” – The Financial Times

“The result is a book that is smart, light on its feet and possesses a crunchy thoroughness. . . . Mr. Vance delivers a well-calibrated portrait of Mr. Musk, so that we comprehend both his friends and his enemies. It’s a book with many ancillary pleasures. Mr. Vance brings us up to date on the states of green energy and space launches. He also veers away from his subject just often enough, offering profiles of the frequently brilliant people who work alongside Mr. Musk The best thing Mr. Vance does in this book, though, is tell Mr. Musk’s story simply and well.”- The New York Times

“Really good biographies stand out in two ways. First, they provide lots of zesty stories that haven’t been told before. Beyond that, they explain all the zigzags and false clues of a prominent person’s life, in a way that makes the total picture come into focus. . . it’s clear that this new Musk bio delivers the goods in both respects. . . Ashlee Vance provides a wealth of insights about how this tech titan operates.” – Forbes

“Vance’s lively book yields all manner of fascinating insights about Musk’s companies, his vision, and his personal life.” – Slate

“Of the many profiles of business leaders, Vance’s take on Musk is among the best. The author’s objective and unbiased viewpoint captures Musk’s good and bad, his achievements and failures.” – The Motley Fool

“Vance’s book is a masterful piece of reporting.” – Vice

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Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic …


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