Category: Elon Musk

June 11, 2019 Off

Tesla’s shareholder meeting: How to watch and what to expect

By Jill T Frey

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is expected to take the stage Tuesday for the company’s annual shareholder meeting following a volatile year that saw swings between profitability and wider-than-expected losses, production goals met and deliveries milestones missed, and a securities fraud charge, and subsequent settlement, with the SEC.

The board, like the company it governs, has also undergone changes in the past 12 months. In December, Tesla appointed two independent board members, Oracle founder, chairman and CTO Larry Ellison and Walgreens executive Kathleen Wilson-Thompson. Four months later, Tesla announced in regulator filings, that was reducing the board by more than one-third, to seven directors. Brad Buss, Linda Johnson Rice, Steve Jurvetson and Antonio Gracias will not stand for re-election once their terms end.

Like its earnings calls, Tesla shareholder meetings are rarely boring. If the past is a guide, the event will be run like an informal town hall … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

Jeff Bezos wants to build the infrastructure for space startups

By Jill T Frey

At its re:Mars conference, Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos took the stage today to be “interviewed” by Jenny Freshwater, Amazon’s director of forecasting. As any AWS machine learning tool could have forecasted, having an employee interview her boss didn’t lead to any challenging questions or especially illuminating answers, but Bezos did get a chance to talk about a variety of topics, ranging from business advice to his plans for Blue Origin.

We can safely ignore the business advice, given that Amazon’s principle of “disagree and commit” is about as well known as it could be, but his comments about Blue Origin, his plans for moon exploration and its relationship to startups were quite interesting.

He noted that we now know so much more about the moon than ever before, including that it does provide a number of resources that make it a good base for further space exploration. “The reason … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Fresh off a $530M round, Aurora acquires lidar startup Blackmore

By Jill T Frey

Aurora, the self-driving car startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, is in an acquiring mood. The company, founded in early 2017 by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell, announced Thursday that it acquired lidar company Blackmore.

The Blackmore purchase follows another smaller, and previously unknown, acquisition of 7D Labs that occurred earlier this year, TechCrunch has learned. 7D, founded by former software engineer from Pixar animation Magnus Wrenninge, is a simulation startup that makes photorealistic synthetic data sets for street scenes. Aurora confirmed the acquisition.

Aurora’s larger Blackmore acquisition comes on the heels of its $530 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital and “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates. Aurora did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Lidar, or light detection and ranging radar, measures distance. It’s considered by many in the emerging automated driving industry — with the exception … Read the rest

May 22, 2019 Off

Review of Elon Musk’s DC-to-Baltimore ‘Loop’ system reveals safety concerns

By Jill T Frey

The Boring Company’s Loop transit system that aims to shuttle people in autonomous electric vehicles between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. fails to meet several key national safety standards, a review of its proposal reveals.

The underground system appears to lack sufficient emergency exits, ignore the latest engineering practices and proposes passenger escape ladders that one fire safety professor calls “the definition of insanity.”

Details of the 35.3-mile system, the first segment in a high-speed network that Boring Company founder and serial entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes will one day run all the way to New York, emerged recently in a 505-page draft environmental assessment.

Musk founded The Boring Company, or TBC, in 2016 after becoming frustrated with Los Angeles’ infamous traffic congestion. The aim was to find an efficient and cost-effective way to dig networks of tunnels for private vehicles. That idea evolved into the Loop, a system that Read the rest

May 18, 2019 Off

Sam Altman’s leap of faith

By Jill T Frey

Earlier this year, founder-investor Sam Altman left his high-profile role as the president of Y Combinator to become the CEO of OpenAI, an AI research outfit that was founded by some of the most prominent people in the tech industry in late 2015. The idea: to ensure that artificial intelligence is “developed in a way that is safe and is beneficial to humanity,” as one of those founders, Elon Musk, said back then to the New York Times.

The move is intriguing for many reasons, including that artificial general intelligence — or the ability for machines to be as smart as humans — does not yet exist, with even AI’s top researchers far from clear about when it might. Under the leadership Altman, OpenAI, which was originally a non-profit, has also restructured as a for-profit company with some caveats, saying it will “need to invest billions of dollars … Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

Musk’s new lawyer fights ‘pedo guy’ defamation lawsuit claims, questions motive

By Jill T Frey

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s lawyer argued Tuesday in a court filing that the British cave diver who became embroiled in a public spat with his client and later sued for defamation can’t recover damages because his reputation was not harmed.

In court documents filed Tuesday, Musk’s new lawyer Alex Spiro of Quinn Emanuel questioned the motive of Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, who filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The suit was filed after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter. The fight erupted last summer after the rescue of youth soccer players trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Musk denies the allegations of defamation in the latest response. Spiro became Musk’s lawyer earlier this month.

“One has to question Mr. … Read the rest

May 10, 2019 Off

Elon Musk’s ‘pedo guy’ defamation case is going to trial

By Jill T Frey

A defamation case filed last year against Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk after he repeatedly called a British cave diver “pedo guy” will go to trial on October 22, a U.S. district judge determined Friday.

Vernon Unsworth, the British cave diver, filed a defamation lawsuit in September 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after Musk called him a “pedo guy” and made other statements insinuating he was a pedophile in a public attack on Twitter.

The Verge was the first to report the court decision.

A Tesla spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied a motion to dismiss the case and instead scheduled a date for trial. The decision means that Unsworth’s case is strong enough to go to trial.

Musk’s lawyers argued that statements on the internet, and more specifically on unmoderated forums like … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

Tesla’s Autopilot off course

By Jill T Frey

The White House has refused to exempt the “brain” of Tesla’s Autopilot technology from punitive import tariffs, a decision that could delay or disrupt the company’s self-driving ambitions, TechCrunch has learned.

At a special “autonomy day” event last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled advanced Autopilot 3.0 hardware, including a new custom chip intended to enable full self-driving (FSD) operation for all of its new vehicles. This hardware is now standard in all new Model 3, S and X vehicles. Customers pay an additional $6,000 for the software upgrade called FSD.

Tesla’s Autopilot off course

The self-driving hardware lives within the Autopilot ECU (or engine control unit), a module that Tesla describes as the “brain of the vehicle.” This module is assembled in Shanghai, China, by a company called Quanta Computer.

Tesla’s plans could be affected by a previously unreported decision last month by the White House not to grant Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

How tech entrepreneurs think of Universal Basic Income

By Jill T Frey

As tech has grown, policy debates have become an important pastime. Today’s tech industry aspires to replace human drivers with self-driving cars, secretaries with AI assistants, permanent jobs with gigs — and as a result, the human impact of tech has become an everyday conversation.

No other idea is as emblematic of this as Universal Basic Income, a policy that would distribute a monthly sum to every adult regardless of their income or employment status.

The conversation is widespread. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have said that UBI may be desirable or necessary. Y-Combinator Research and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are running basic income studies. Tech-friendly presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang support the issue.

But should the average tech entrepreneur or investor support UBI? The answer is not entirely clear.

The good news is that the tech industry is deeply familiar with risk, which is an important component … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

Tesla bumps up its capital raise by $400 million, with Elon Musk taking an additional $15 million

By Jill T Frey

Tesla is going to raise an additional $400 million in its latest sale of stock, with co-founder and chief executive Elon Musk committing to buy an additional $15 million in shares, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The electric vehicle, energy storage and solar panel manufacturer said it will sell 3.1 million shares at $243 per share. The underwriters are jointly underwritten by Goldman Sachs and Citigroup . At the same time, the company said it would boost its convertible note offering by another $100 million.

Initially, Tesla was going to sell $2.3 billion in stock and warrants, but the new totals boost that number to $2.7 billion, with Elon Musk upping the ante of his own purchase as part of the revised deal.

The company said that Musk would boost his purchase from $10 million to $25 million as part of the sale of stock.… Read the rest