Elon Musk’s Philosophical Musings On Space (And Other Observations From Code Conference)
Musk on space and taxes, Satya Nadella on TikTok, Marc Benioff on the workplace, and more.
The following is a selection from Big Technology, a newsletter by Alex Kantrowitz. To get it in your inbox each week, you can sign up here.
After so many months of isolation, there was Elon Musk. The brilliant, mercurial technology founder helped kick off the tech industry’s unofficial exit from quarantine this week as he strode on stage at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Wearing a black bandana around his neck, Musk took his seat beside Kara Swisher as the headliner for her annual Code Conference. The two gazed out at the crowd of 600 tech executives, investors, and media filling the traditional home of the Golden Globes, and, just like that, it was almost as if we were back in 2019.
From a few feet away, I spent the week listening to Musk and other tech leaders as they spoke with Swisher about the tech industry’s future. Here are my observations:
- Musk gets philosophical on space travel. Musk has articulated his motivations for building SpaceX. First, he believes space travel is good business (SpaceX is valued at $74 billion). Second, Musk thinks we’ll have a better chance of surviving the next extinction event by making our species interplanetary. But this week, he went a level deeper, offering a perspective I found fascinating. “If we want to understand what the universe is about, and what’s the meaning of life, we need to get there and find out,” he said. “And the more that we can expand the scope and scale of consciousness, the more we’ll be able to understand what questions we need to ask about the answer that is the universe.”
- Musk finally addresses his taxes. ProPublica reported in June that Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018. Musk this week finally addressed the situation, explaining that he’s compensated mainly in stock options that will eventually be taxed. Musk complained that he kept his stock options while his companies struggled and felt targeted now that his bet on himself proved wise. Asked why he didn’t speak with ProPublica, Musk said they weren’t interested in the truth. That’s a shame, since his…