Google CEO Larry Page made a surprising statement at this week's TED conference in Vancouver. During an interview with Charlie Rose, Page said that, instead of leaving his fortune to charity, he'd rather give it to Elon Musk.
It's not necessarily a bad idea. Charities do great work in communities around the world, but they tend to think inside the box. People are hungry, charities feed them. People need medical care, charities send doctors to make them better. Innovators like Elon Musk, on the other hand, often have big ideas that don't just solve problems, they make us wonder how those problems ever arose in the first place.
Put another way: if you give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. If a charity teaches a man to fish, he'll eat for a lifetime. If Elon Musk puts the fish back in the ocean and creates lab-grown meat that can support the dietary needs of every man, woman, and child on the planet, no one will ever need to touch a fishing rod again.
1. Gloat. $40.7 billion in the bank wouldn't make Musk the wealthiest man in the world, but he'd break into the top ten, jumping from #158 to #6. That would give him some nice bragging rights, and he'd probably score better party invites, too. (Though perhaps not in New Jersey.)
2. Develop 13 versions of a high-powered rocket for NASA. Just one of those $2.5 billion rockets can carry 20 metric tons more cargo into space than NASA's current means of conveyance. Finally, we'd be able to send our astronauts into space with all the Mountain Dew and Xbox games that math-lovers need to survive.
3. Fund 51,000 episodes of Sesame Street. Page may not believe in nonprofits, but who knows about Musk? With his thoughtful pledge to the Sesame Workshop, Musk could fund Grover, Cookie Monster, and Big Bird for the next 1,900 years -- with plenty left over for Kami and the other muppets on Takalani Sesame in Musk's home country of South Africa. If he asks nicely, they might even send him a promotional mug.
5. Build 55 percent of a brand-new International Space Station. Or, if no one else wants to pony up for the remaining 45 percent, Musk could just overhaul the existing one. We hear it still has shag carpeting and a sunken den.
6. Install 1.08 million solar-powered Tesla Supercharging Stations. Where would they go? Hard to say, since that figure is roughly three times the number of gas stations found in North America, Europe, and China, Tesla's primary markets. If Musk scaled down to the non-solar versions -- which, at $150,000, are about half the cost of the sun-worshipping variety -- he could blanket the world, and much of the moon. Which would come in handy for a...
8. Buy 215.3 million Nexus 7 tablets. Because Page would poltergeist the hell out of Musk if he spent one penny of his Googlecash on iPads.
9. Buy out Coty Fragrances and rebrand one of its more popular scents as "Elon Wild Musk". Then, he could recreate the best/worst fragrance ad of all time, replacing the caveman and cavewoman with himself and a Model S. Would it be better than the fake Tesla commercial we saw earlier this week? There's only one way to find out...