How Paypal co-founder and billionaire Elon Musk Hires: ‘It Matters Whether Someone Has A Good Heart’

How Elon Musk Hires: ‘It Matters Whether Someone Has A Good Heart’

Alyson Shontell | Mar. 9, 2013, 4:23 PM | 5,562 | 2

Technology entrepreneur and SpaceX founder Elon Musk told the audience at South by Southwest, a large conference in Austin, the biggest mistake he’s ever made.

It has to do with hiring the wrong people.

For a long time, Musk says he hired talented people over kind people, but he tries to balance that now.

“[My biggest mistake is probably] weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality,” said Musk. “I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.”

March 9, 2013, 5:46 PM

Being Elon Musk, Tony Stark of SXSW

By Geoffrey A. Fowler

So what’s it like to be Elon Musk? In a keynote talk at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, the co-founder of PayPal and current CEO of Tesla Motors and CEO and CTO of SpaceX gave a glimpse into the life of America’s busiest billionaire.

In short: He’s Tony Stark, the eccentric inventor better known as Iron Man.

After showing off a sci-fi-style video of the reusable rockets SpaceX is developing (just like on the Starship Enterprise, he noted), and previewing his plans for a commercial “spaceport” that might be coming to Texas, Musk volunteered to help Boeing help fix its battery problem.

He described how in a launch last week, he helped save his Dragon spacecraft from spinning out of control, Iron Man-style, to ultimately dock with the International Space Station.

Oh, and Musk wants to die on Mars, he said – just not die on impact.

Musk said he doesn’t bother with ideas that could lead to “incremental” change. Rather, he only focuses on ideas that can, literally disrupt the entire world. “I have not been trying to optimize on a risk-adjusted return basis,” said Musk.

Is there any problem he can’t solve?

In addition to trying to get man to Mars and solve the future of transportation, Musk also has five kids. “I don’t see them enough,” he said. But multitasking helps: “What I find is that I am able to be with them and still be on email.”

Really? “You do email in interstitial moments,” he said. “I do have to have a nanny there – otherwise they would kill each other.”

His life “is very busy,” Musk admitted. “I would actually like to take it down just a notch,” he said. “The last few years have been really great, then there were a number of years that sucked horribly. I would like to not have it be so extreme.”

He added: “My new year’s resolution was to have a little more fun this year – so hey, I’m at South by Southwest!”

To be sure, the soft-spoken Musk didn’t display any of Stark’s arrogant showmanship. But he also didn’t tone down any of the ego he showed in a recent high-profile flame war with a writer from the New York Times who gave a Tesla car a bad review. Looking back on it, would Musk have handled it differently? No – he would just have published one more response on his blog.

“I don’t have a problem with critical reviews; I have a problem with false reviews,” he said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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