Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page calls Nikola Tesla his hero, but says it is better to be like Edison than Tesla. Page read Tesla’s autobiography “My Inventions” when he was 12 years old and was fascinated by his amazing inventions. Tesla’s problem, however, was that he didn’t know how to make money off of those inventions. In fact, Edison and Marconi got credit for a lot of things that were actually thought up by Tesla. In a 2008 interview with Fortune magazine Page said:
You also need some leadership skills. You don’t want to be Tesla. He was one of the greatest inventors, but it’s a sad, sad story. He couldn’t commercialize anything, he could barely fund his own research. You’d want to be more like Edison. If you invent something, that doesn’t necessarily help anybody. You’ve got to actually get it into the world; you’ve got to produce, make money doing it so you can fund it.
So Page says that Google is, in essence, a response to that failure. Innovate, but also sell it to the public so you can afford to innovate some more. With this in mind Google has brought us a wide variety of inventions beyond its initial search engine – Android, the Chrome browser, Google Earth, Gmail – just to name a few. Not everything Google invented became a hit of course, but enough of them did to keep the innovation rolling.
Page describes the influence Tesla had on his desire to become an inventor.
That desire to combine the inventiveness of Tesla with the commercial marketing savvy of Edison has grown beyond Google into other investments. Both Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin have invested in something else that pays homage to Nikola Tesla – Tesla Motors. Exploiting several unique innovations in harnessing the power of electricity, the Tesla Roadster can go from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds while also achieving 100 miles per gallon. Now that is a high-performance sports car.
All you need is $100,000 to start (not counting options), or a friend named Larry Page.