If Then

Making Sense of Elon Musk

Tesla and SpaceX reporter Dana Hull on what drives tech’s most enigmatic CEO.

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

On this week’s If Then, Will Oremus and April Glaser talk about how Google has been tracking and storing your location—even after you’ve asked it not to. Then they review some of the disturbing security news out of DEFCON, the annual hacker conference in Las Vegas, including a demonstration in which an 11-year-old managed to hack a voting machine in minutes.


The hosts are joined by Dana Hull, a reporter for Bloomberg News, who covers the electric-car company Tesla and the space transportation company SpaceX. What those companies have in common, of course, is their CEO, the enigmatic Elon Musk. Will and April ask her what to make of Musk’s latest machinations, including his surprise bid to turn Tesla back into a private company.


Stories discussed on the show:

Slate: iPhones and Androids Need a GPS Button

AP News: Google Tracks Your Movements, Like It or Not

BuzzFeed News: An 11-Year-Old Changed the Results of Florida’s Presidential Vote at a Hacker Convention. Discuss.

Wired: Police Bodycams Can Be Hacked to Doctor Footage

Bloomberg: Tesla Go-Private Effort Advances With Board Panel to Study Offer


Bloomberg: What We Still Don’t Know About Musk’s Plan for Tesla

Bloomberg: Hell for Elon Musk Is a Midsize Sedan

Bloomberg: Tesla Doesn’t Burn Fuel, It Burns Cash

Slate’s If Then: Interview With Mashable’s Michael Nuñez

Don’t Close My Tabs:

HuffPost: The Story Behind the Story That Created a Political Nightmare for Facebook

The Washington Post: A Small-Town Couple Left Behind a Stolen Painting Worth Over $100 Million—and a Big Mystery

Podcast production by Max Jacobs

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at ifthen@slate.com.

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.