(Source: Inc/Valuewalk)
Museum gets a big helping hand in its ambitious goals

"I never thought of myself as someone who could have a nervous breakdown, like, 'what kind of pu**y has a nervous breakdown?' ... but I came damn close."
When an average office worker makes a statement like that, their coworkers might think they're applying to the office drama department for the role of "entitled worker seeking attention".  But when it's PayPal cofounder Elon R. Musk, a man who works up to 80-100 hours of week serving as CEO of two of America's most innovative companies and serving as chairman at a third top innovator -- and still tries to find time to spend quality time every week with his five kids -- you just shake your head in wonderment.
I. Tesla at Last Gets His Due
What's even more impressive is that while trying to salvage America's shot at a Mars landing, open-sourcing his companies' patent portfolios, and laboring to revive American manufacturing via his upcoming solar and EV battery "gigafactories", Mr. Musk still has the time to help out the little guy.

Elon Musk
Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk [Image Source: ValueWalk/INC]

This week the billionaire industrialist offered up $1M USD of his own cold hard cash to support a museum memorializing one of his own personal heroes -- Nikola Tesla.  

The donation came about via an impassioned campaign by Matthew Inman.  The artist/comic-genius behind the webstrip The Oatmeal, Mr. Inman -- much like Mr. Musk -- was drawn to Tesla.  As Mr. Inman memorialized in one of his comics, Mr. Tesla risked it all in his tireless pursuit of science.

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla, 1890

A top inventor in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Mr. Tesla rose to fame and fortune for a time, thanks to revenue from his many patented devices.  But in his later years he would find himself villainized by Thomas Edison who opposed alternating current, advocating direct current for the power grid.  With his financiers abandoning his research efforts Mr. Tesla was forced to eventually abandon his lab at Wardenclyffe on New York's Long Island.  But while he died virtually penniless, his scientific contributions and inventions live on, even today allowing people in America and the rest of the world to enjoy a higher standard of living.
After writing his comic, Mr. Inman wasn't able to let go of the Tesla bug.  Soon, he heard about the efforts of the Friends of Science East (FSE), Inc. -- a nonprofit founded by high school teachers at the Shoreham-Wading River High School on Long Island with the vision of buying Wardenclyffe and morphing the school's humble "Science Museum" into a full fledged Tesla museum.

Matthew Inman
Matthew Inman, a top web cartoonist, raised the funds to buy the land at Wardenclyffe for the Tesla museum project. [Image Source: Peter Mumford]

Fascinated, he discussed the project with the FSE team and realized that they had the passion they just lacked the money to buy the property and build a fitting memorial.  As an internet celebrity he could help them out on that department.
Using IndieGogo and an accompanying web comic, he raised $1.37M USD in a little over a month.  With the money he and the Friends of Science East bought Wardenclyffe (with a little help from the State of New York) they are today in the process of restoring Tesla's abandoned labs to a proper museum, which will be called The Tesla Science Center.
Last year they had over 100 volunteers help to clean and begin work on the large and neglected estate.
II. Elon Musk Offers up a Much Bigger Donation
Mr. Musk has a unique link to Tesla.  Not only is he a modern day Tesla, of sorts; he also named one of his two startups -- Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) -- after the late inventor.
When Mr. Inman launched his campaign, his web comic personally called out Mr. Musk, encouraging him to donate (he also called out Google Inc. (GOOG), General Electric Comp. (GE), and JP Morgan Chase & Comp. (JPM)).  Jalopnik reported that Mr. Musk personally donated $2,500 USD to the cause.
Mr. Inman returned the favor, buying a Tesla Model S luxury sedan.  He reviewed the vehicle in a comic describing it as a "magical space car" with an "iPad-like" interior and handling "like a Ferrari that got porked by a luck dragon."  The car earned a "5.4 out of 5 star" rating in his book. Professional auto reviewers agree; the Model S won many car of the year awards.

Tesla Model S
The 2014 Tesla Model S sedan

But Mr. Inman grew troubled thinking of Mr. Musk's relatively small donation.  Couldn't he give more?  After all, he owned companies now worth billions thanks to his tireless Tesla-esque ingenuity.

So he wrote a "second part" to the review -- an impassioned plea yet again calling out Mr. Musk and asking him to do more to help build the museum, which Mr. Inman estimates will require about $8M USD in fundraising to complete.  Perhaps most moving was a letter personally addressed to Mr. Musk from Mr. Tesla's grandnephew, his closest surviving family member:

William Terbo letter to Mr. Musk

Mr. Musk quickly replied on May 14, pledging to help: This week Mr. Inman filled us in on Mr. Musk's followup and his impressive commitment to honoroing a man he calls a personal hero.  The Oatmeal writes:
Tesla Motors Museum

Within a few hours of posting my review, Elon Musk tweeted that he'd be happy to help. Earlier this week I got to speak to the man directly, and he promised two things.

1. He's going to build a Tesla Supercharger station in the parking lot of the museum.
2. He's donating $1 million dollars to the museum itself.

It's just one more way Mr. Musk is pouring his seeming money and spirit into a project for the good of mankind -- albeit this time in a slightly different way.  If anything, Mr. Musk needs to remember to spend more time taking care of himself.  In a 2012 interview he bemoaned:

I think the time allocated to the businesses and the kids is going fine.  I would like to allocate more time to dating, though. I need to find a girlfriend. How much time does a woman want a week? Maybe 10 hours.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk [Image Source: Art Streiber/August Image]

There are probably now a number of female Tesla geeks who might be interested in that offer.

Sources: Elon Musk on Twitter, The Oatmeal [1], [2]

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki