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Elon Musk: Digital Age Snake Oil Salesman

Upon hearing the name Elon Musk, many people instantly get a raging science boner. This is not entirely unfounded of course, after all the man did make his own space exploration company and is the CEO of the world's only auto maker that exclusively turns out high end electric cars. There is however a problem with Elon and it's a rather serious one most people won't acknowledge due to his supposed accomplishments. Elon is a liar, a serial one, he lies to us constantly and not in a good way.

Let's start like we always do, with a trip down memory lane. Where exactly did Elon “pretty boy” Musk get all this cash to throw around in the first place? Well it's simple really, he sold ideas that other people came up with. Take his first venture Zip2. Zip2 was like a yelp prototype, an early nineties online city guide for you to look up things to do about town. Sounds great right? Well the problem is that someone had already come up with that idea and that was CitySearch. The only thing that musk did different was undercut city search to merge with the New York Times. Taking advantage of the 90s tech bubble, Musk just simply shilled it out to Compaq for a cool 350 million.

But Elon wasn’t done yet, he went on to form X.com. Pretty cool domain I have to admit, but what he did with it is that same as with Zip2. X.com was basically just PayPal that worked through email. But a day late and a dollar short since PayPal has been around a full year before Musk showed up. Rather than compete on this idea that someone else came up with, he merged with PayPal and then later sold to Ebay for which Elon’s share was a slick 165 million. At this point he had enough money to buy tiny giraffes as pets. He would now use that money to sell more of other people's ideas to more investors.

It's impossible to be sad when you have a pygmy giraffe.

Musk’s next upstart was Tesla. The problem here is again that he's not selling you anything new. No, the electric car has been around almost as long as the car itself. In fact, it's pretty ironic for Musk to name his company Tesla since Nikola actually was an inventor and a scientist. At one time at the turn of the previous century almost 40 percent of all cars were fully electric; many of them could go 200 miles on a charge (max range on a model S is only 310 by the way), albeit at about 20 mph. Of course highway capable cars didn't come around till the 60s but that's still almost 60 years ago. While I will admit that the tesla brand produces some swanky cars, they are no better furnished internally than a kia soul. Honestly, the only reason to buy a tesla is because there packed full of random, unnecessary, and unreliable techno gadgets that no car actually needs and no one asked for.

In fact the same problems that killed older cars are still hounding Tesla, mainly slow charging and lack of infrastructure. Combine that with rampant quality control issues, massive delays on production expectations, and the occasional death and you'll see Tesla is having some serious issues. Of course Elon still needs to milk this cash cow, so he continues to make grandiose and impossible promises to his investors. This has lead to Tesla hemorrhaging capital quarter after quarter like a sailor in a strip club on the first night of shore leave. This isn't the only bottle of tonic on Dr. Musks suspicious sales cart, no everything this guy touches has the same story.

A model S during “rapid charging” or a metaphor for Tesla itself, you decide.

Let's move on to the Hyperloop. This is Elon’s grand vision of future travel that promises a trip from LA to San Francisco at 700 mph in 30 minutes. It does this by operating a train in a vacuum which eliminates the air resistance allowing for faster travel. Sounds pretty futuristic right? You might be willing to believe that Elon came up with this in some kind of fever dream but you'd be wrong again, he stole this too. The vacuum train concept, or the childishly renamed Hyperloop if you prefer, has been around since 1799. The reason that it's not a thing now despite being thought of hundreds of years ago, is that it's as bad of an idea now as it was then.

There are numerous safety issues with the Hyperloop which alone will seal its fate as a pie in the sky dream. For example, running anything in a vacuum should scare you. All it takes is the smallest pin prick for the whole system to violently collapse, and if you're in a train going seven hundred miles an hour consider yourself turned into red jelly. How does that look exactly? Like this. Click the link and look at that tank collapse, then imagine that on a scale of hundreds of miles worth of tubes with a hundred people in it. If you want a full explanation of how ridiculous of an idea the Hyperloop is by an actual doctorate holding physicist you can check this video here. Spoiler alert: all those videos they keep releasing of the thing working are actually lies!


This brings us to his latest fiasco, SpaceX’s 'BFR' rocket. Now this is easily Musky’s most successful venture, and the most practical. He’s essentially make space travel and exploration a private venture with government backing. This is actually pretty awesome and a step in the right direction for the future of humans in space; however, in typical “look at me and how cool I am” fashion Elon immediately bites off WAY more than he can chew.

With SpaceX’s latest successful test of retrograde rockets that can land back on the ground vertically, it actually achieved a milestone as this hadn't been done reliably before. Musk took this opportunity to tell people that he would work on making it possible for the rockets he hadn't even built yet to be available for point-to-point transportation on earth; with ticket prices that are only a couple hundred dollars. This sounds like something a child would promise, but no he made a CGI promo and everything. I feel like with the content of this article so far that you, dear reader, can already see how stupid this is.

The future of transportation, Elon Musk style

Where to start with this one... it's just so ridiculous. For starters the amount of time it would take to fuel a rocket between launches would be three times longer than the flights themselves. The billion dollar cost of rocket launches means that tickets on this death missile would have to cost millions not hundreds. To top it off, have you ever seen a video of a rocket explosion? There's a reason those launch pads are MILES offset from any kind of structure. Space bound rockets carry enough fuel to level about 4 city blocks to the foundation. If a launch fails in downtown NYC, say goodbye to your favorite pizza place.

In short STOP ENCOURAGING ELON MUSK. I get that you want to live in a 1950s issue of popular science, but it's just not happening. This man is wasting billions of dollars of investors capital and its going to blow up in his face sooner or later. As it stands Elon Musk is more Thomas Edison than Nikola Tesla. All he really does is walk by the R&D department, point at some interns project and shout into a TV camera “Look at this great thing I, Elon Musk, am doing! It's going to change the world for ever at zero cost!” His heart might be in the right place most of the time, but Elon really needs to get a better grip on reality if the actually practical things he says are ever going to come to fruition.