Elon Musk did not join Tesla Motors, take the helm as CEO, and pour hefty amounts of his own cash into the company with the hope of getting money back, he said Wednesday night at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital Conference.
"The reason for Tesla is not because I wanted to get a return on investment, " he said.
"Today we’ve got quite a high market cap, so it may seem obviously a good thing to have done, but for many years people regarded this as stupid or insane or both."
After eBay bought PayPal, which Musk helped created, for $1.2 billion in 2002, Musk did not want to start another internet company, which would have been as easy as "falling off a log."
Musk wanted to build an electric car, he said at the conference, to address rising gasoline prices.
"The reason for Tesla was to create a compelling long-range electric car that people would buy."
He has not been swayed by doubters of his cause.
"If I had a dollar for every time someone brought up Delorean or Tucker [both failed small-scale auto companies] I wouldn’t need to IPO."
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