How Elon Musk took over Tesla using money, strong-arm tactics, and his own popularity

Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard and Elon Musk at the launch of the Tesla Roadster in 2008. | Image: Getty

The story of Tesla and Elon Musk can be traced back to the early 2000s, when Musk was ousted as CEO of his first company, PayPal. That incident taught Musk a crucial lesson about the importance of being in control, even when it wasn’t your own company.

In episode two of Land of the Giants: The Tesla Shock Wave, we talk to Tesla’s original co-founders, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, as well as several of the company’s earliest employees, to tell what is essentially an origin of the electric automaker — but also of Musk himself. We learn how Musk was brought on as a crucial early investor but soon used his clout, money, and even a few strong-arm tactics to oust Eberhard and Tarpenning and eventually install himself as CEO of Tesla.

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