On June 1, 1964, in Sacramento, California, Marc Tarpenning entered the world. In 1985, he decided to major in computer science at UC Berkeley, and now he is a successful businessman. Marc Tarpenning started working for Textron, a multinational corporation, in Saudi Arabia not long after completing his degree.
Textron is a $12 billion conglomerate with interests in the power industry and the manufacture of cutting-edge aircraft, weapons, and other industrial goods. Once upon a time, Marc Tarpenning was an engineer for the corporation.
Aside from Textron, Marc Tarpenning worked on software and firmware for other tech sector heavyweights including Seagate Technology and Bechtel Corporation.
Marc Tarpenning’s Career
Meeting Martin Eberhard
Marc Tarpenning reconnected with his friend and fellow Textron employee Greg Renda while the two were both stationed in Saudi Arabia. Once in a blue moon, he was able to take a flight to see his family in California. Renda worked as an expert at the time for Wyse Technology, a Dell subsidiary that provides software and technology services.
Greg had Marc come to his office to discuss the terminals Wyse was working on. It was during this visit that Marc would meet Martin Eberhard for the first time.
Renda needed Tarpenning’s input on a project overseen by Martin Eberhard. Perhaps the adage about how people naturally gravitate toward those that are similar to themselves is correct, as they seemed to hit it off right away. They became business partners, their bond strengthened by the type of camaraderie that endures to this day.
At the beginning of their friendship, they would sit about and talk for hours about topics of interest to two geeks in the field of technology, such as the economy, nature, and government. It was at this time that the two decided to go into business together, and it was at this time that the burgeoning excitement about mobile devices, and more specifically battery efficiency, entered into the conversation.
NuvoMedia Inc. was established by Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard in 1997. The company’s primary focus was on creating a safe online environment for the publication, distribution, sale, and consumption of electronic books by publishers, merchants, and readers.
In 1998, the portable e-reader NuvoMedia gave birth to the Rocket e-book. The device’s exterior included a 5×7.5-inch LCD screen that worked flawlessly thanks to 4 MB of flash memory and 2 MB of DRAM. While it may not seem like much now, this gadget was quite the rage back in the day.
The battery life of a rocket e-book is 17–33 hours, and it can store up to ten books, or 4,000 pages of images and text, which is the equal of ten novels.
In addition to Tarpenning’s leadership in the development, Eberhard served as CEO for three years. In 2003, NuvoMedia was sold to Gemstar-TV Guide International for $187 million.
The Founding Fathers of Tesla Inc.
Marc Tarpenning and Eberhard’s last venture was a huge success, so they decided to get back to the drawing board. While their success with NuvoMedia was undeniable, the two entrepreneurs knew they needed to focus more on a cause and adapt their business to the changing industry if they were to see continued success in the future.
Martin Eberhard’s passion for fast vehicles inspired the creation of Tesla, Inc. In a 2021 CNBC interview, Martin and his ex-wife laughed about how much the breakup affected his decision.
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I asked, “What do you do when you get a divorce? You put down cash for a high-performance vehicle. The American engineer and businessman have said as much.
They put a premium on efficiency when it came to fuel use. Furthermore, at the time, global warming and climate change were becoming increasingly pressing concerns in addition to the ongoing Middle Eastern wars that were driving up the price of oil. Burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to climate change.
EV1 Mass Recall Led to the Birth of Tesla
Eberhard opted to purchase an electric vehicle since it made more sense than buying a luxury vehicle that would cost him a fortune to fill up and maintain.
Unfortunately, General Motors discontinued the EV1—the very model he had his heart set on.
The media said that the silver coupe type, which had been particularly popular, had vanished from the face of the earth. General Motors recalled and destroyed every single EV1 it had ever manufactured. General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner made the call, citing the model’s lackluster sales.
They put two and two together and came up with the brilliant idea of starting their firm to manufacture electric sports vehicles. There was just one catch; they had no idea how to construct one.
During their investigation, Tarpenning and Eberhard came upon AC Propulsion, a modest Southern California motor firm. Three electric vehicles that appear like greatly improved go-carts were successfully built.
Eberhard saved AC Propulsion from bankruptcy with a timely investment. Marc Tarpenning commissioned the firm to produce a vehicle powered solely by batteries for him. The resulting lead acid–powered “TZero” sports vehicle had a low range and other limitations.
In light of their findings, the two IT experts advised changing the batteries. As a more reliable power source, they suggested lithium-ion batteries.
They were able to bypass the TZero’s many restrictions by simply replacing the battery. Then, Marc Tarpenning and Eberhard formed a partnership with Lotus, a British automobile manufacturer. They constructed the body of the automobile around its central processing unit, motors, and batteries.
They put in all the groundwork necessary to create a winning pitch for future backers and associates. By July of 2003, Marc Tarpenning and Martin had officially formed their firm, Tesla.
Elon Musk Joins the Company
Despite what they think of the world’s richest man, Tesla’s original inventors are grateful that Elon was able to see the company’s potential from the start. Marc Tarpenning assured Tarpenning and Eberhard of his support after asking them several reasonable questions and offering some of his thoughts.
Musk’s initial $6.35 million investment in Tesla’s Series A financing made headlines in April of 2004. Musk was also given the position of Chairman of the Board as part of the deal.
In 2006, Tesla debuted its first production model, the Roadster. Since it was a truly electric and highly attractive sports car, as opposed to the little, dull-looking battery-powered vehicles that had been collecting dust on the Marcet for decades, it drew considerable attention from across the world.
People struggled to get on the waiting list for the initial batch of automobiles as the co-creators gained worldwide fame. Elon Musk, the creator of SpaceX, was not pleased by the abundance of attention given to Tesla but the complete absence of any coverage of himself.