Hint: He didn't have nice things to say.
In a wide-ranging interview recently published by GQ, the outspoken Musk was asked to comment about Steve Jobs and the late Apple co-founder’s legacy. Before he could stop himself, Musk uttered a word he ultimately would try to backtrack on.
“The one time I met Steve Jobs, he was kind of a jerk. And everyone I know who met him…,” Musk told GQ. According to the report, Musk then stopped his train of thought and asked to “withdraw” his comment. He attempted to clarify that it was a “personal experience” and that it was Google’s GOOG Larry Page who introduced him to Jobs several years ago. He noted that Jobs simply may not have known who he was.
“The last thing I need is to generate animosity, you know,” he told GQ.
Some might argue that Musk’s animosity towards Apple has been piling up already. After all, it was Musk who has said on numerous occasions that he has poached Apple employees, and the iPhone maker had tried to respond by offering Tesla employees more cash. He has also scoffed at the Apple Watch and tauntingly invited Apple to join him in the electric car business. Most recently, in an October interview, Musk said that Apple has become the “Tesla Graveyard,” a place where employees who can’t hack it at Tesla, end up.
So far the spat has been one-sided—none of the salvos have been returned from Cupertino.
But Musk isn’t only focused on Apple. He is arguably one of the technology industry’s elite minds. He co-founded PayPal to kick off digital payments, has become a titan in the burgeoning electric car market with Tesla, got the idea to put solar panels on homes with SolarCity, and is sending rockets to space with his SpaceX venture. Now, he’s working on building responsible artificial intelligence company, called OpenAI, with some of the industry’s other elites, including venture capitalist Peter Thiel and LinkedIn LNKD co-founder Reid Hoffman.
If anything, Musk is a true visionary who likes to speak his mind and share his grand visions for the future.
Those grand visions were on full display in his interview with GQ. Musk said that SpaceX is internally working on a rocket, known by the code name BFR, that could ultimately lay the foundation for getting people to Mars. The long-sought-after mission, which some experts say could take decades to accomplish, is something Musk believes could happen much sooner. Indeed, the 44-year-old Musk says it’s possible that the first manned Mars mission may launch when he is in his fifties.
This isn’t the first time Musk has talked about Mars. In an interview with Stephen Colbert, he also said that detonating a nuclear bomb on Mars could make it habitable. Earlier this year, he said that he would present a plan by the end of 2015 for ultimately colonizing the planet. He now tells GQ that those plans have been pushed back, and an announcement won’t be made until early next year, so he can refine the plans.
“It’s really big,” Musk says of his plans. “It’s really big. There’s not been any architecture like this described that I’m aware of.”
Looking ahead, Musk doesn’t seem to have plans to slow down. Like many of companies, his ideas for the future are sci-fi-like in proportion. He tells GQ that he wants to design Hyperloop, a new mode of transportation through tubes, and is eyeing ways to use a supersonic jet capable of taking off and landing vertically as a means for long-distance travel.
While Musk has yet to bring the ideas to fruition, it’s possible he might. After all, many other big ideas that he’s had have turned into multi-billion-dollar companies.
His only issue along the way may just be keeping his opinions on Apple—and its co-founder—to himself.
For more about Elon Musk and his troubles with Apple, check out the following Fortune video:
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