Elon Musk: SpaceX and Tesla alive 'by skin of their teeth'

From BBC - March 11, 2018

Elon Musk says his companies SpaceX and Tesla are both still alive only "by the skin of their teeth".

The entrepreneur told an audience at the South by South West (SXSW) conference that both companies almost went bankrupt in 2008.

"I gave both SpaceX and Tesla a probability of less than 10% likely to succeed," he said during a Q&A session.

"At the beginning in 2002, I would not even let my own friends invest as I did not want to lose their money."

Mr Musk said he made $180m (130m) when PayPal was acquired by eBay in 2002, and he initially put $90m into SpaceX and Tesla, but the costs kept mounting.

He said 2008 was an incredibly difficult year - SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket failed for the third time, and Tesla almost went bankrupt two days before Christmas.

By this point, he only had about $40m left.

"I could put it all into one company, and the other company would definitely die, or if I split it into both SpaceX and Tesla, then they both might die," he said.

"And when you put your energy into building something, it's your baby, so I could not choose. I put the money into both, and thank goodness they both came through."

Mr Musk also got divorced, and he said he had to borrow money from his friends to pay his rent.

"SpaceX is alive by the skin of its teeth, and so is Tesla - if things had just gone a little differently, both companies would be dead," he said.

Mr Musk said he had to be the chief engineer for the Falcon 1 because he could not get any other suitable candidates to join the company, and he did not want to risk his venture on engineers he felt were not of the right standard.

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