Tesla Before Elon: The Untold Story

Tesla Before Elon: The Untold Story


Tesla: one of the biggest names in the automotive
industry.
From the slick designs of their cars to their
promise of a renewable future, Tesla has truly
taken the world by storm.
Today, the mere mention of Tesla instantly
evokes the image of one man: Elon Musk, the
closest real-life equivalent to Tony Stark.
You may have heard of him from his plans to
take humans to Mars to colonize the planet,
or from his Boring Company, which plans to
build a hyperloop between New York and Washington
DC.
But for almost everyone, Elon Musk is synonymous
with Tesla.
Today’s story, however, isn’t about Elon.
Instead it’s about a man you’ve probably
never heard of before, despite the fact that
he was the true driving force behind the company.
His name?
Martin Eberhard.
Despite what the mainstream media would have
you believe, it was Martin who originally
founded Tesla, and today’s episode is dedicated
to his story.
The year is 1997.
Martin had spent a decade working as an electrical
engineer when he met his future business partner
Marc Tarpenning.
Several sessions of “Magic: The Gathering”
later and the pair were already planning their
first business venture: an ebook reader.
In just three short years, NuvoMedia, the
company they created, had sold 20,000 e-readers,
and they sold off their stake in it for a
comfortable $187 million.
With a bright future ahead of them, the two
entrepreneurs decided to shift their focus
to electric sports cars.
But how does one make the leap from ebook
readers to electric sports cars?
In one word: divorce.
You see, Martin had gotten divorced in 2000,
and befitting of any rich 40-year-old stuck
in a midlife crisis, he wanted to buy himself
a sports car.
However, he couldn’t get himself to buy
any of those uncivilized gas guzzlers running
wild on the streets.
This conundrum got him thinking, and eventually
he approached his old buddy Marc with an elegant
proposition: building an electric sports car.
Together in 2003 they began work on what would
eventually be the Roadster, the first car
of their new company, Tesla.
Instead of relying on the traditional combustion
engine, Martin and Marc had the groundbreaking
idea to utilize lithium ion batteries, a technology
they had discovered in their ebook days.
But, of course, building everything from the
ground up wasn’t a realistic possibility.
Instead they partnered up with two companies:
AC Propulsion, a motor company from California,
and Lotus, a British car manufacturer.
AC Propulsion had built a small electric car
called the tzero, which was fully electric
and could go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in
4 seconds, a feat that no other electric car
at the time could accomplish.
Martin struck a deal with AC Propulsion to
use their motor technology, but he still needed
an actual car to place the motor in.
This is where Lotus came in.
One of their models, the Lotus Elise, ticked
all the right boxes; it was small, speedy,
and sporty.
So Martin and Marc made their way to the Los
Angeles Auto Show, where they kept pestering
Lotus until “a very polite British man”
finally gave them the time of day.And yes,
we are very nice on this side of the pond,
or at least our friends say that we are.
Now where were we?
With a car to work on and cutting edge technology
to implement, Tesla Motors began development
in earnest.
By mid-2004, however, the company’s coffers
were running dry.
Martin and Marc had been able to bootstrap
the company for its first year, and they were
even able to get some modest investments from
a few venture capitalists, but to get the
Roadster into production, Tesla needed some
serious funds.
And I know what you’re thinking, a car company
having trouble getting started?
How ironic, what a surprise.
But, that’s where the man, the myth, the
legend of Elon Musk comes into play.
Musk had just sold PayPal to eBay and was
sitting on a nice big pile of money, $7.5
million of which he invested into Tesla after
meeting with Martin and Marc.
Musk would go on to invest $70 million into
Tesla by 2008, but it was still the iconic
duo who were at the helm.
Thanks to Musk’s initial capital injection,
Tesla successfully made a great leap forward
in November 2004 when it built its first prototype,
a Lotus Elise outfitted with AC Propulsion
technology.
The “Mule,” as they called it, ran like
a charm and floored the engineers with its
performance.
Tesla continued its R&D, taking another two
years to officially debut the Roadster.
Finally, on July 19th, 2006, the product of
all that hard work was unveiled in Santa Monica.
The Roadster cost a whopping $100,000, but
people were lining up to throw money at Tesla.
Within two weeks of the Roadster’s debut,
127 cars had been sold.
While Roadsters didn’t actually roll off
the production lines until 2008, Tesla was
a massive success and the first successful
car startup in decades.
Internally, however, not all was all fine
and dandy.
Tensions were building up between Elon and
Martin for reasons we will likely never know.
All we do know is that in August 2007, Martin
got a call from a very nervous-sounding Musk.
On that call, Martin learned that the Tesla
board had met without him and had decided
to oust him as CEO.
Oh dear.
He had been essentially kicked out of his
own company.
Technically, he’d been demoted to President
of Technology, but he knew what that really
meant.
He later told Business Insider, “I didn’t
get to hear what they said.
I didn’t get to defend myself.
I felt totally stranded.”
He eventually resigned, of course, and so
did Marc.
In 2009, Martin sued Tesla for attempting
to “rewrite history,” arguing that Musk
was trying to take credit for what Martin
and Marc had done.
The suit also noted that the company was purposely
and inaccurately portraying Elon as the founder,
which as we know today is something almost
everyone believes.
Elon, not one to lie down without a fight,
filed a countersuit, and later that year,
Martin dropped the charges.
It appears that he and Musk settled out of
court, and that’s probably why the whole
affair remains shrouded in mystery.
Needless to say, the two no longer speak.
Of course, there’s no doubt that both men
contributed heavily to Tesla becoming what
it is today, but it does seem a bit unfair
that Martin has been completely eclipsed by
the enigmatic Musk.
Perhaps this is the inevitable fate of any
company with a charismatic co-founder.
(Here’s looking at you, Steve Jobs!)
Still, the fact remains that Tesla wouldn’t
be the automotive superstar it is today without
the brilliance and perseverance of Martin
Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the real heroes
of Tesla.
Without the partnership of these two men,
Tesla wouldn’t exist today, and Elon Musk
wouldn’t have had a car to send to Mars.
There we are, thank you for watching everyone,
I hope you enjoyed this sort of soft reboot
of Business Casual.
Jordan and I hope to make lots of videos for
you, and of course the easiest way for you
to help us do that is to hop on over to our
Patreon, although just liking and sharing
this video would more than suffice.
I want to throw in a big shout out to the
new channel we’re also starting called Sidequest,
where you can enjoy listening to how I answer
the many strangely specific, yet rarely thought
about questions to do with world history.
Anyhow, thanks again for watching and we’ll
look forward to chatting again in the next
episode of Behind the Business.

100 Replies to “Tesla Before Elon: The Untold Story”

  1. I also didn't know this. Would be interesting to know what exactly has been going on, since what happened, happened… If the CEO was making bad decisions that could have ruined the company, decisions like these needed to happen. I don't believe they would just get "fired" for no reason. I agree the founders should have some credit, but I wouldn't say that it's ONLY because of them that Tesla exists. Without all the money from Elon, Tesla would just have been a failed dream, and never evolved as it has done to this day.

  2. Great insights, did not know that Elon Musk is NOT the Founder of Tesla. Even in today's world of internet connectivity and open information sharing, people are able to rewrite history so well. Will be helpful during my keynote on "The Curious Leadership" (TheCuriousLeadership.com)

  3. Why did it take so long, and so much money, to put a working motor into a working chassis, and line the inside with little batteries?

  4. How absurd…. the 2 founders used A/C propulsion technology and combined it with a lotus. In other words the created nothing themselves. Telsa simply wouldn't exist without Musk. So completely absurd!

  5. I would say that Tesla wouldn't have reached these heights without Musk. Was SpaceX also a stolen idea by him?! I know Rockets reusability was already introduced before but nobody was brave enough to implement it commercially.

  6. So had Elon not come along Tesla would have failed and never produced squat.

    And this guys have been gone a long time. No credit to Elon though lol

  7. Both side make great contribution in Tesla history, without Martin & Marc there is no birth to Tesla and without Elon Musk the Tesla will no survive (bankruptcy) and become great electric car company.

  8. Lol this story is not untold everyone keeps telling it xD still an amazing story though. Elon is my religion

  9. Without them Tesla wouldn’t exist… but also without Elon it wouldn’t exist cause the wouldn’t have enough money

  10. It is the same story for many companies; brains with not enough money, meets business acumen with lots of money.

  11. This isn't exactly untold. Individual YouTube channels aren't the world. You can literally just read the Wikipedia pages.

  12. this video….make you believed…..that….. what he sayin is true……naaaaa! isn't true…..this is big bull shit lie…..good try
    TESLA TECHNOLOGY…..CAME FROM…IT'S OWN IT SELF

  13. Elon Musk is a great scammer just look at how much he screwed the DOE out of money.Most of his tech is either repackaging old ideas or bs that have been proven by physicists.IE:Hyperloop

  14. Unfortunately, this video is missing the true story of how Roadster came into being! You should watch video Who Killed Electric Car (available on DVD) which correctly puts Alan Cocconi as a true designer of General Motors EV1 and T-Zero sports car he developed for his AC propulsion company around 2000.

    Martin Eberhardt licensed the technology developed by AC Propulsion for their T-zero sports car, which was used for Roadster design on a license from AC propulsion!

    Mr. Cocconi designed the whole thing: induction motor, the variable speed motor drive with 300 miles range for its predecessors EV1 funded by General Motors. Mr. Cocconi also pioneered the use of Lithium Ion batteries in electric cars! Prior to that, Sony laptops using the Li Ion batteries were exploding but he made the charging technology safe on a much higher power level!

    His original design was using analog circuits and his patented charger design providing 300 miles range with an On-board Charger which still does not exist today in fully Electric Vehicles! When Elon Mask removed Eberhardt as CEO and pushed him out of the company, he reneged on Licensing agreement with AC Propulsion by replacing analog circuit designs with digital and claiming that this invalidates the original licensing obligations! So much for the real truth of who the real founder of EV industry is?
    True inventors like Alan Cocconi never get the credit they truly deserve! Perhaps this is also a time to update your video accordingly.

  15. Unfortunately, this video is missing the true story how Roadster came into being! You should watch video Who Killed Electric Car (available on DVD which correctly puts Alan Cocconi as a true designer of General Motors EV1 and T-Zero sports car he developed for his AC propulsion company around 2000.
    Martin Eberhardt licensed the technology developed by AC Propulsion for their T-zero sports car, which was used for Roadster design on a license from AC propulsion. Mr. Cocconi designed the whole thing: induction motor, the variable speed motor drive with 300 miles range for its predecessors EV1 funded by General Motors. Mr. Cocconi also pioneered the use of Lithium Ion batteries in electric cars. Prior to that, Sony laptops using the Li Ion batteries were exploding but he made the charging technology safe on a much higher power level! His original design was using analog circuits and his patented charger design providing 300 miles range with a Fast-On-board Charger which still does not exist today in fully Electric Vehicles! When Elon Mask removed Eberhardt as CEO and pushed him out of the company, he reneged on Licensing agreement with AC Propulsion by replacing analog circuit designs with digital and claiming that this invalidates the original licensing obligations! So much for the real truth of who the real founder of EV industry is? Perhaps this is a time to update this video accordingly!

  16. World conspiracy……. They build rockets for space. But they need fuel… Build electric cars…. Trucks …. hoards all fuel and oil…. Sales of gas and oil deplete over next decade. Buys all fuel and oil…. Has own supply of Rocket fuel…… Building a new noahs arch moving to mars. beachs…… Meanwhile paying to keep oil and gas mining going. So we are still not saving the world. Only our species.

  17. Elon, way before Tesla Motors was an idea, wanted to make electric cars for the mission of a sustainable future for humanity. He could have just started a company of his own and let Martin Eberhard fail. But instead, Elon thought it better to start from some progress rather then from scratch, and the name Tesla was cool too. However, to a degree, that was a mistake, since Martin was doing nothing and the company was going to die and Elon had to take control and start building from scratch anyway. From all this mess, at least Elon's efforts in the renewable space gets to bear the name – Tesla. In hindsight, was it worth paying money and giving up the title of founder in order to have the right company name? I think so, because having the right company name is more important for the success of the mission then being one of the original founders.

  18. READ ELON MUSK BY ASHLEE VANCE. and, yes ELON MUSK WAS ONE OF THE CO-FOUNDER. WITHOUT ELON, TESLA COULDN'T HAVE EVEN PRODUCE A SINGLE ROADSTER the first production car of tesla. So, ELON MUSK is synonymous with TESLA. ADMIT IT !!!

  19. Tesla: One of the smallest car manufactures🙈
    Way too much hype for the Tesla.. Bad build quality and bad customer service in many places. And it's eletric so… Maybe in 20years it's usable with batteries in cars

  20. brother can u teach how u edit videos plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  21. Dude elon musk is a ceo and martin is the founder of tesla. Donut media has also a history video on tesla

  22. business is war i guess but you have to be careful , it could get you murdered , in this case however the 2 millionairs probably went through all their
    money developing the car and if it were not for musk they would have wound up pennyless , so in the end it was musk who saved the day.

  23. What they did is like taking an old cellphone and attach it to a mini laptop calling it smartphone. Elon ans his Team made the new cars from scratch and way better then these clowns did. I give them no credits.

  24. Is well known that Musk didnt founded Tesla. But he was a long time investor. Tesla was practically dead when musk took the leadership, it was a good idea with great potential and it already burned much of his capital under Martin Eberhard.

  25. Musk is visionary and entrepreneurial, but he's not an engineer. He didn't design or build any of the products he's known for. Rather ironic. A bit like Steve Jobs, I suppose.

  26. Without the founders of Tesla Elon wouldn't have a car to send to space but without Elon those guys wouldn't of sold a single car

  27. I disagree with the author of this video. Elon had decided he wanted to build an electric car before he made the investment. He would have done it on his own, it just wouldn't have been called Tesla…. The story that this video author cleverly left out so that he could give his biased version is: the two co-creators designed a Tesla Roadster that cost $140,000 to produce yet they had taken deposits to sell it for a $100,000!… This miss management was the reason they were ousted… It wasn't just Elon it was the whole board.

  28. It's the exact same story as Facebook , the twin had an idea and Mark Zuckerberg developed it into a better idea , here Mark and Martian had the idea of an electric sports car and it was Elon Musk who made that idea a reality….so no hard feeling , if those guys were that good they will still head of their companies right now , Steve Jobs was great that's why he got back to Apple cuz there is no Apple without Steve. Great video , keep up !

  29. Really who is the genius of Tesla then is the people at AC Propulsion. Making a lightweight car, there's a lot of people out there that can do that. But make a new and revolutionary electric motor and VFD there aren't many.
    Who are they and what is there story?

  30. Someone with vision and very special skills can only grow a company to a level of today's Tesla. Jobs, Gates all similar stories. Nothing wrong with this. Credits to the original founders and most importantly Elon who had the belief in them and invested his own money – who could see that?

  31. Wtf is this horrible accent? Also, half the people know Musk isn't the founder. But lets be honest here, without Elon Musk, Tesla would be buried by now and the Arab-American oil mafia would continue to destroy all EV and battery tech. Tesla grew AFTER the initial founders left the company. Whatever it is today, is only because of Elon Musk.

  32. It was up to Martin why this car was named after Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk would never do that, this is for sure. When I was listening him talking about Tesla and Edison, he didn’t hide that he prefer Edison over Tesla. This shows how ignorant he is and how uneducated he really is. Elon is very arrogant and he measures value of a human by how much money he made. Nikola Tesla could be the richest man of all time if he cared about money at all. This is hard to comprehend for people who are after money and after the money only, like Elon Musk.

  33. Rich people do steal alot, that’s the reality of it, and they steal from each other. They really are a bit like psychopaths acting dangerously and with no remorse.

  34. Post-modem, If you started and head a business and have ambitions to grow it in a way that will require a board of directors, make sure their role is in an advisory capacity only because they will hijack your company and swiftly remove you for cause.

  35. Your voice sound like you are narrating a cartoon story to a child :/
    Too much annoying to watch, change this narrator or else we will change you

  36. And I thought Nikola Tesla was the founder of this company. Don't worry, my thoughts won't effect the world a bit, but my actions will.

  37. Actually Elon is the real hero because without him we would of simply had another great idea that was never developed. I have always said that inventions are easy. Getting to market is the hard part. Similar story for Nikola Tesla. Without Westinghouse his invention would of gone nowhere.

  38. He needed $7.5M from Elon to keep the company running? Didn’t he have $187m from his e-reader company. Sounds like he was not fully invested. In the end Elon was willing to put every last penny he had into the company (split with spacex of course). He showed he truly believed and was fully invested.

  39. Martin Eberhard Quit in the end. If he was fully invested he would have proved himself as president but he was not willing to do what was right for the company.

  40. another fight between the inventor and the businessman. here again, showing to history that Managing people is the only perseverance skill needed to thrive.

  41. Musk is supported by the Elite – that is why he succeeded. He lost me when he said on the Joe Rogan show that he admires Edison… being the owner of Tesla… Fckface.

  42. Another Tesla vs Thomas Edison in our times. Elon is a business brain using genius engineers to make money for him. Capitalism in the 21st Century.

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