Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk, and the Bet of the Century (Hardcover)
On Our Shelves Now
*A Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller*
“A deeply reported and business-savvy chronicle of Tesla's wild ride.” —Walter Isaacson, New York Times Book Review
Power Play is the riveting inside story of Elon Musk and Tesla's bid to build the world's greatest car—from award-winning Wall Street Journal tech and auto reporter Tim Higgins
Elon Musk is among the most controversial titans of Silicon Valley. To some he's a genius and a visionary; to others he's a mercurial huckster. Billions of dollars have been gained and lost on his tweets; his personal exploits are the stuff of tabloids. But for all his outrageous talk of mind-uploading and space travel, his most audacious vision is the one closest to the ground: the electric car.
When Tesla was founded in the 2000s, electric cars were novelties, trotted out and thrown on the scrap heap by carmakers for more than a century. But where most onlookers saw only failure, a small band of Silicon Valley engineers and entrepreneurs saw opportunity. The gas-guzzling car was in need of disruption. They pitted themselves against the biggest, fiercest business rivals in the world, setting out to make a car that was quicker, sexier, smoother, cleaner than the competition.
But as the saying goes, to make a small fortune in cars, start with a big fortune. Tesla would undergo a hellish fifteen years, beset by rivals, pressured by investors, hobbled by whistleblowers, buoyed by its loyal supporters. Musk himself would often prove Tesla's worst enemy—his antics more than once took the company he had initially funded largely with his own money to the brink of collapse. Was he an underdog, an antihero, a conman, or some combination of the three?
Wall Street Journal tech and auto reporter Tim Higgins had a front-row seat for the drama: the pileups, wrestling for control, meltdowns, and the unlikeliest outcome of all, success. A story of power, recklessness, struggle, and triumph, Power Play is an exhilarating look at how a team of eccentrics and innovators beat the odds—and changed the future.
About the Author
TIM HIGGINS is an automotive and technology reporter for The Wall Street Journal. He appears regularly as a contributor on CNBC. His writing has won several awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, and he is a five-time finalist for the Livingston Awards. After almost a decade reporting on the car business from Detroit, he now lives in San Francisco.
“[A] sweeping history of the electric-car juggernaut…I’ve covered Tesla as a reporter since 2016. When Higgins writes about facts and situations I’m familiar with, I can attest he’s right on the button, every time.”
—Los Angeles Times
"Tim Higgins’s compelling and deeply reported history of Tesla addresses the essential question of how this upstart automaker came from nowhere to become one of the most valuable companies on Earth...An exceptional work of business journalism."
“Tense, detailed and well-crafted...Power Play is a business thriller for real...A clear, deeply reported and engaging account of how Musk launched a truly transformational car.”
“Higgins, who covers technology and autos for the Wall Street Journal, has done an outstanding job. He's performed a deep dive into the nuts and volts of Tesla. His book is extensively researched, including interviews with (unfortunately but understandably) anonymous current and former execs.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Richly detailed…Higgins manages to deliver an evenhanded account that brings us up to date from Ashlee Vance’s 2015 biography of Musk—the prior definitive Tesla account—and has a more urgent feel, given everything that has happened the past few years.”
“[Power Play] eschews sensationalism for a high-resolution portrait of how exactly an unusual man and an unusual company managed a meteoric rise…. The tale of Tesla's ascent is inherently dramatic and compellingly told.”
"Eminently readable…A must-read for any fan or critic."
“Higgins has written entertainingly about the financial Bet of the Century…[He] is exemplary in describing many of these extraordinary machinations. He has interviewed hundreds of people associated with Tesla, both past and present. He knows the financial story like the back of his hand.”
—The Times (UK)
"A masterclass in narrative journalism, telling the extraordinary story of Tesla's rise to become one of the most fascinating companies of the 21st century, with inside-the-room detail and color that give it a cinematic feel."
—Bradley Hope, New York Times bestselling co-author of Billion Dollar Whale
"Tim Higgins’s electric narrative takes us through Tesla’s every hairpin turn.... This case study on the thin line between madness and genius is set against a monumental backdrop: the rivalry between Silicon Valley and Detroit to develop and popularize the electric car. Having covered the industry from both locales, Higgins is uniquely equipped to lucidly and colorfully explain why the former triumphed—and how it is that an impossible person can ultimately will an improbable success."
—John Helyar, #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of Barbarians at the Gate
"No matter how you slice it, the story of Elon Musk and Tesla is a riveting one. In Power Play, Tim Higgins also makes the tale of Musk and Tesla compulsively readable, to say nothing of lively, fun and insightful!”
—William D. Cohan, New York Times bestselling author of House of Cards
“Tim Higgins's portrait of Tesla in Power Play is simultaneously inspirational and troubling, revealing Elon Musk's risky scrambles to invent the future he's constantly promising to deliver. Through the tales of Tesla's frequent near-death experiences and executive firings, readers benefit from Higgins's depth of reporting in both Silicon Valley and Detroit.”
—Sarah Frier, award-winning author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram
“Effectively combines [Higgins’s] well-honed journalistic skills with revealing perspectives from industry observers, frustrated Tesla staff, futuristic engineers, and Musk himself, creating a spirited report on a company consistently embroiled in a swirl of melodrama and controversy....Readers fascinated by the hype of Tesla history will find a gold mine of facts and foibles in this immersive analysis.”
“In-depth and well-balanced...A sometimes appalling, occasionally inspiring, and always entertaining saga.”
"A well-documented and comprehensive look at Tesla, Elon Musk, and the people involved with its creation and successes."
"A riveting saga...Power Play reads like a novel."
—The Free Lance–Star