Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson is writing a book about Elon Musk, says Elon Musk

Musk has an interesting relationship with his self-image, as evidenced by his appearance on SNL as Wario.
Image: SNL

Like most of the super-rich, Elon Musk has one eye on his legacy, keen to shape how his huge fortune is perceived now and in the future. This perhaps explains why he recently shared the fact that Walter Isaacson, biographer of Steve Jobs, is writing a book about him.

“If you’re curious about Tesla, SpaceX & my general goings on, @WalterIsaacson is writing a biography,” tweeted Musk.

He added in subsequent tweets that Isaacson has shadowed Musk “for several days so far,” and that he “particularly liked” Isaacson’s biography of US founding father Benjamin Franklin. He also repeated that he will “maybe one day” write his own autobiography.

There have been a number books written about Musk’s life and his career, including a 2015 biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance. The book, which Musk contributed several interviews to, was well received by reviewers. The Financial Times called it “a riveting portrait of Silicon Valley’s most driven entrepreneur [...] personal flaws and all,” while The New York Times offered similar praise, though noted that the work occasionally veered “toward hagiography and the diction of news releases.”

Musk has been less happy with other books written about him, though, including Tim Higgins’ recent Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century, which was published earlier this month.

A review from The LA Times says Higgins’ book “takes the shine off” Musk, showing him to be “a hair trigger of an executive who’s quick to fire people whether they deserve it or not.” The book has generated numerous news stories, including a particularly wild tale that Musk demanded to be made CEO of Apple after the iPhone-maker approached Tesla about an acquisition. Musk and Apple CEO Tim Cook have both denied that this ever happened.

With Isaacson, though, Musk will likely know what to expect. Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs was written with “unprecedented” access to the Apple founder and praised for its detail, readability, and emotional insight. But, as we noted in our own review from Laura June in 2011, the biography is also “in some respects [...] a book told through the often discussed ‘reality distortion field’ of Steve Jobs himself.”

“[T]hough other opinions or sides to a story are presented, Steve always has the last, blunt word,” says June of Isaacson’s biography. That sounds like something Musk would like, too.

Comments

It seems too early to write a definitive account of Elon’s career. Tesla and SpaceX could both end up being either world-changing innovations or just very successful and forward-thinking companies depending on how self-driving cars and the private space industry turn out.

Who says it’s a "definitive account"?

Musk has already done more in his life than the vast majority of humans. Nothing wrong with a bio now.

And Musk is on his final trajectory. It’s unlikely that he will start any new meaningful ventures – what he has started at this point will play out. So you can argue it’s a good time to check in.

Good point, I guess I was thinking of it in the context of Isaacson’s Jobs, DaVinci, and Einstein biographies (haven’t read any others) but there’s no reason he couldn’t go for something different with this book.

That is a debatable point.
2 of Musk’s ventures – Boring Co and Neuralink have a long gestation period of 5-10 years to show real impact.
Also, Space X with its Starship is moving onto a whole new paradigm of making "real" space economy possible.
Tesla, if/when masters the real-world AI can make "actual" robots, the addressable market is greater than the auto industry.
So I would say, Musk’s impact is just getting started.

This is no way to escape Steve’s shadow, Elon.

I’ve read several books by Walter Isaacson. He’s a complete tool.

He comes across as incredibly credulous in his Jobs biography.

I seriously love when Elon dressed as Wario is used in his news articles.

Guys, I don’t want to be morbid but if Elon explodes in his rocket to Mars……do it. Use the Wario image in his obituary. He would have wanted it this way!!

Oh wow, did Elon tell you that?

I was thinking the same. The Wario getup is very humanizing.

To be honest, Steve Jobs biography wasnt that good. It was alright, but I feel like most writers could’ve fone simular job. It missed some personality and inspiration. I will probably read this one as well, but we shouldnt really expect any extra special value just because written by Isaacson.

I feel like Steve Jobs bio was overrated book about an overrated person from an overrated writer. So maybe thats the general theme here hmmm

The culture of lionising company CEOs is weird as fuck

I’ve read several by Isaacson.

In every single one of them he falls in love with his subject and gains almost no understanding of the work that made these people famous.

I thought most people were disappointed by Isaacson’s Jobs bio. Maybe just in tech circles

The book "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century" already outed Musk as someone who has temper tantrums, berating people to their face and firing employees in fits of rage. I wonder if this biography will cover that side of Musk, or sweep it under a rug.

Considering Isaacson didn’t really sweep any of Jobs’ character flaws under the rug I don’t see a reason he’d do it here either.

Bit early for a bio imho.

When/if he gets to Mars, it will be interesting to see how the various efforts of Tesla, SpaceX, Boring, etc. converged to make that possible. Right now it seems premature.

The book may take 2 years to be written. It may already be underway by that point, unmanned at least

Lets hope this time the actor looks like the target person in the movie adaptation.

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