Inside Elon Musk's tiny house
Here's what happens when you pay attention to Elon Musk's tweets. Also, Understandably Live today (1 pm ET)! And 7 other things worth your time.
The first draft of today’s newsletter comes to you from the back deck of my house, where I was serenaded as I wrote by the sounds of birds, and children playing, and splashing in the neighbor’s pool, and—
Leaf blowers. Loud ones. Noisy, two-stroke gasoline-powered little buggers.
Major pet peeve. I’m still waiting on Elon Musk’s promise to fix this.
Alas, that two-year-old tweet has never come to fruition (as far as I know)—what with electric cars and spaceships and solar panels and all that taking up Musk’s time.
So instead, let’s focus today another Muskian tweet—one I’ve written about before, I admit—but one that might have greater reach in the long run.
It’s from June 9, which is when Musk (replying to a fan who described Musk as someone who “lives very modestly by billionaire standards”) revealed what he said are his current living accommodations:
My primary home is literally a ~$50k house in Boca Chica / Starbase that I rent from SpaceX. It’s kinda awesome though.
Only house I own is the events house in the Bay Area. If I sold it, the house would see less use, unless bought by a big family, which might happen some day.
There are a few Twitter accounts and blogs I sometimes read that track Musk’s life and companies in detail; I think Teslarati was the first to pick up on this.
Until then, this revelation flew under the radar. (Note that the leaf blower thing from 2019 has about 291,000 “likes,” while this “I live in a tiny house” tweet has only 18,000).
The replies, such as they were, focused on whether Musk really does lead a modest life—until, eventually, people started to ask:
Wait, tell us a little more about this little $50,000 house…
It turns out, Musk is almost certainly living in an itty-bitty 380-square-foot, foldable house-in-a-box; it was manufactured by a company called Boxabl, delivered to the SpaceX launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas, on a flatbed truck, and set up on site in less than a day.
The secret was hiding in plain sight, actually, given that Boxabl posted a YouTube video last November that offered a tour.
Boxabl co-founder Galiano Tiramani even teased that it had been delivered for the use of "a top-secret customer" located in (you guessed it): Boca Chica, Texas.
You'll note that Tiramani sits next to a giant poster of a SpaceX rocket inside the tiny home while he talks about his "top-secret customer," so making the connection didn't exactly require Sherlock Holmes levels of deductive reasoning.
Anyway, I’ve been intrigued enough by this whole thing that I decided to try to interview Musk about it for Understandably Live.
When that didn’t work, I reached out instead to Paolo Tiramani, brother of Galiano Tiramani, above, who is the CEO and cofounder of Boxabl.
Joking aside, I think this will be a good interview. We'll talk about Musk, the future of housing, and why the idea of a house that can fit in a shipping container seems so intriguing.
(Also, not to get too meta, but I’ll ask about how to get buzz for your company—since Musk’s reply tweet ultimately drove millions more people to learn about Boxabl’s offering.)
Anyway: mass-produced, foldable housing with components that can fit into current standard shipping containers? That's a big idea.
In fact, it's quite possibly even bigger than electric cars and space travel, at least during our lifetimes. Let's put it this way:
Almost none of us reading this article will ever go to space. That's all about the future.
Across the planet, roughly one car is produced for every 7.8 people, so, at most, about 13% of the world's population have access to a car.
But nearly 100% of people on Earth live in houses or apartment structures, and almost all of them were built the same way: constructed on site, one at a time.
We live in an era in which housing affordability is a huge and growing problem almost everywhere—and then we find out that Musk, with a reported net worth of $163 billion as I write this—literally lays his head at night inside the prototype for a possible home of the future?
It’s pretty wild. Now, about the super-quiet leaf blowers…
Call for comments: Let’s just ask—what do you think of, when you think of Elon Musk?
7 (make that 8) other things worth your time
Have you tried turning it off and on again? The National Security Agency issued a “best practices” guide for mobile device security (it came out last year but has just come to light publicly) that recommends a simple way to thwart hackers: reboot your phone at least once a week. It’s not foolproof, but it’s “all about imposing cost on these malicious actors.” (AP)
Weddings can be expensive in normal times, but prices are shooting up as couples who put off their nuptials due to the pandemic—and worry about more lockdowns come the fall—rush to seal the deals. (Bloomberg Quint)
Exhibit A: Sha'Carri Richardson tests positive for marijuana use and misses out on the Olympics. Exhibit B: Megan Rapinoe launches her own line of CBD-infused products and gets laudatory press (even as the US women’s soccer team limps into the knockout round). Discuss. (MPR News)
A former supervisor for security operations at eBay was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple whose online newsletter was viewed as critical of the e-commerce company. Philip Cooke, a retired police captain in Santa Clara, California, and other employees participated in a scheme to harass the couple through Twitter and by sending them disturbing packages, including live cockroaches. (Reuters)
Being reluctant to try new foods can be a turn-off, according to new research published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The new study provides evidence that the willingness to try new foods can influence sexual desirability and is seen by others as a sign of sexual unrestrictedness. (PsyPost)
US home prices registered the fastest growth in 17 years in May as a surge in demand for housing vastly outstripped the supply. (ABC News)
The Senate on Wednesday cleared the first procedural hurdle toward enacting an expansive proposal to build and repair the nation’s roads, bridges, and broadband internet networks. Significant challenges remain, but the 67 to 32 vote was “a decisive victory for the first portion of President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ infrastructure proposal.” (LA Times)
Bonus: As someone closer to her age than to, say, Katie Ledecky, I salute Oksana Chusovitina, 46, who bid a bittersweet goodbye this week as the oldest Olympic gymnast. She announced her retirement after finishing 14th in the vault at her eighth Games. (Newsweek)