Tesla Co-Founder & Founding CEO Martin Eberhard

Watt It Takes

Aug 31 2021 • 54 mins

When it comes to climate tech companies, there's only one name that's known around the world: Tesla.

Tesla has arguably been the defining climate tech success story of the 21st century, driving demand for electric vehicles and becoming one of the world's most valuable companies.

When people think of the person behind Tesla, they think of Elon Musk. But Musk wasn't there from the very beginning — he was an early investor in the company, and didn't become CEO until five years after its founding.

Martin Eberhard was there from the start. And as co-founder and founding CEO, he'd already spent years building a new kind of electric car that people would actually want to drive.

Martin started Tesla with his co-founder Marc Tarpenning in 2003 during the dark ages of electric cars. Automakers had lobbied against policies promoting EVs in the 90s, and then killed their own battery-powered models. It took years of trial and error before Tesla hit the scene with the first Roadster.

Martin’s time as CEO came to an end in 2007, when he was unceremoniously kicked out of the position by Tesla’s board. But he left his mark on the EV world.

Emily Kirsch spoke with Martin about his long history as an entrepreneur, the origins of Tesla, cobbling together the parts for Tesla’s first EV prototype, and blowing up batteries in his yard.

Watt It Takes is brought to you by Google. Google is pioneering the electricity systems of the future with its effort to source 24/7 carbon-free energy by 2030 — so that everyone can have round-the-clock, carbon-free energy everywhere they operate, in every hour of the day. Learn more.

Watt It Takes is also brought to you by Nextracker. Nextracker is advancing the connected power plant of the future across five continents.

Powerhouse partners with leading corporations to help them lead the next century of clean technology innovation. Powerhouse Ventures backs founding teams building innovative software to rapidly transform our global energy and mobility systems. You can learn more about Powerhouse at powerhouse.fund.

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