AUSTIN (KXAN) — In a podcast interview released Thursday, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk talked with comedian Joe Rogan about why he and his enterprises are investing in and drawn to Austin.
Musk, who became the richest person in the world again last month, said of Austin: “It’s gonna be the biggest boomtown America has seen in 50 years, at least.”
During this face-to-face, three-hour-long interview, the two said they were meeting for this episode in Austin. Both men are new Texas transplants who have left California recently, with Rogan moving to Austin in the summer of 2020, and Musk confirming in December that he moved to Texas.
While Musk did not say in the interview whether he had moved to Austin specifically, he had a lot to say about Texas’ capital city. Over the past year, several of Musk’s ventures have placed roots in the Austin area with Tesla announcing plans to build a Gigafactory for manufacturing electric vehicles in Travis County, Boring Company hiring in the Austin area, and Musk’s private foundation relocating from California to Austin. SpaceX also has two Texas sites with a launch facility in Brownsville and a rocket testing facility in McGregor.
Musk explained to Rogan that the Tesla Gigafactory currently being built in Travis County is “where we’re going to make the Cybertruck.”
The Cybertruck is Tesla’s anticipated electric pickup. Musk said he expects the Gigafactory will probably have limited production of the Cybertruck at the end of 2021 and volume production by “hopefully next year.”
Musk noted the Gigafactory, located on 2,500 acres off State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road, is a short drive from Austin’s airport and is visible from the highway.
Rogan asked Musk if he anticipates visitors at the Gigafactory.
“Sure, we will offer tours and that kind of thing,” Musk replied.
“Will you offer — if someone wants to come and get their truck from the factory and drive it off the floor…” Rogan started asking.
“Sure, you bet,” Musk interjected.
Musk complemented Austin both for its likeness to California and also its differences from California.
Rogan asked Musk if he decided to bring the Gigafactory to Austin from the start or if that decision was made further down the line.
“Austin is a bit like mini California,” Musk responded. “I was like, asking the team in California, ‘alright where do you wanna — what’s your top choice [for] the next big U.S. factory location, where do you want to spend time?’ The number one choice was Austin.”
Musk said he then asked his team what their number two option would be after Austin, and they were silent.
Rogan said of Austin, “I think it’s a great response to the [expletive] up government in some of the other cities.”
“Yeah, I think we do need to make sure people moving from California don’t inadvertently recreate the issues that caused them to move in the first place,” Musk responded.
“The balance of Austin is [it’s] a blue city in a red state,” Rogan added.
“Yeah,” Musk agreed.
“It’s almost like it kind of has to stay red — not kind of, [it] has to, I think it does,” Rogan continued.
“You need a certain amount of freedoms, but then you need the philosophical — there’s a bend to Austin that’s very progressive and open-minded and artistic,” Rogan said.
“Sure,” Musk agreed.
“And the restaurants are amazing, the people are really cool, but it needs to be sort of embraced by guns and God and freedom,” Rogan added. He and Musk laughed together.
“The reason why it works is because people have so much freedom, and then you have the University of Texas, you have Austin, which has this long history of art and music — Stevie Ray Vaughan and 6th Street and so many great musicians have come from here — that it’s got both of these things together,” Rogan reflected. “It’s got this wild freedom and they embrace both parts of it.”
“Yeah, absolutely,” Musk said.
“I have never felt more at home,” Rogan went on, “I [expletive] love it here.”
“Yeah, it’s a cool city” Musk agreed.
Rogan went on to talk about how many comedy clubs are moving to Austin and noted he is trying to open up a club of his own in Austin.
“I went and saw you and Dave Chapelle, and that was great,” Musk added, referencing a January show of Chapelle’s at Stubb’s BBQ venue in Austin. Musk’s girlfriend Grimes was with the group, as were comedians Donnell Rawlings and Michelle Wolf and Austin restauranteur CK Chin.
“That’s a great venue,” Musk said of Stubb’s.
The two did not mention, however, that Chapelle had to cancel shows following that event, because he tested positive for COVID-19 later in the week.
On the pandemic
As the two continued to talk about Austin, Rogan noted, “there’s something special going on, it just feels fun.”
He continued, seemingly referencing his move from California to Texas “it feels fun to be a part of the escape from this wretched dreariness of the COVID pandemic.”
“Yeah,” Musk said.
“It was this horrible feeling of having no power and no autonomy and being controlled by the government,” Rogan went on.
“Yeah,” Musk said again in acknowledgement.
“Being told what to do, and it didn’t seem logical, and you’re watching all these businesses fail,” Rogan continued.
“Sure,” Musk said.
“And you’re like ‘there’s got to be a better way’ and they’re like ‘there is no better way, wear an extra mask, wear three masks and stay indoors’ — it didn’t make any sense,” Rogan remarked.
“No,” Musk said.
Musk added, “you can’t talk people out of a good panic; they sure love it.”