Executive Summary: Tesla and SpaceX’s Elon Musk
Elon Musk first came to prominence as the co-founder of X.com, which eventually merged with and was renamed as PayPal. Before that, however, the South African-born Musk attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a BSc in economics and a BA in physics, later launching his first company Zip2. Thanks to his Canadian Mother, Musk is a joint citizen of South Africa, Canada and the USA, where he resides.
The two companies for which Musk is best known are electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and space firm SpaceX. The latter was founded first - in 2002. The company’s rapid ascent is perhaps best demonstrated by its involvement alongside Boeing in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to fly astronauts to the ISS on privately manufactured craft. Tesla, meanwhile was founded in 2003, with Musk’s involvement starting after he led a series A round of investment in 2004.
Musk, it is fair to say, does not project the staid image common to most business leaders. His run in with a sign, for instance, did not dampen his enthusiasm for driving around in Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck vehicle. Nor did his removal as Tesla Chairman following a rogue tweet lessen his personal association with the brand.
Not content with the status quo, blue sky thinking is another hallmark of Musk’s companies. In SpaceX’s case, the moonshot (or should that be marsshot?) is human colonisation of the red planet. The more earthly Tesla has its own disruptive ambitions, of which the unusual design of the Cybertruck is just one indicator.
Outside of his core pursuits, Musk has a finger in many other pies. Neuralink, for instance, is attempting to develop brain-machine interfaces, while The Boring Company plans to create networks of subterranean transportation tunnels to circumvent the crush of traffic inherent to many of the world’s cities.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”