Elon Musk hasn’t made his affinity for Thomas Edison a secret over the years. In one interview, he said what he admired most about Edison was that he “brought his stuff to market and made those inventions accessible to the world.”
Musk has done he best to do the same – Turn big, raw ideas into reality and make money doing it. In fact, Musk has also been called the “modern Thomas Edison” on more than one occasion. Their inventions were market driven, while some were also altruistically driven. Whether it was Edison’s popular line of phonographs or Musk’s electric cars, they both knew how to design for the customers of their own time. Edison said this in a famous quote, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” No doubt these two famous inventors are entrepreneurs at heart.
Besides their clear talent and big thinking, there are a few more similarities between these two men that really drive this comparison home.
They were both big believers of collaboration. Both men encouraged cross-pollination of ideas among project teams and hired the most talented people for their teams. Edison had his “Muckers” to devise the light bulb and Musk had the people who helped him build empires like SpaceX from the ground up. Both teams worked countless hours through the night to achieve great feats.
You could find both men sleeping around the lab. We all know that famous photo of Edison sleeping on a lab bench rather than heading home, staying there in his labs overnight. Did you know that there is also one of Musk sleeping in his car factory when faced with tough manufacturing problems?
Both were interested in electric vehicles. It’s interesting these two inventors gravitated to electric vehicles and batteries. Edison began charging electric vehicles using his rugged nickel-iron batteries in his barn and garage as early as 1904-1908. Musk picked up the electric vehicle baton when he started Tesla in 2003, almost 100 years later.
They are both Renaissance men. Musk is known to have made his mark in many fields like finance, space, automobiles, and even movies. However, Edison was very similar with his establishment of not only the electric industry but the music and movie industries as well!
The media loves both of them. Musk and Edison used the media to get attention and bring ideas and money to their projects, knowing just how to create a buzz to get something to happen. They are both not only inventors or entrepreneurs, but iconic celebrities of their time. The media LOVES to quote them and the general public loves to ponder those quotes even more. You can check out some of Edison’s most famous quotes here!