Interview with Rahul Sonnad

Tech Cat Interview with Rahul Sonnad

 

Lori:    Hello, hello, everybody, and welcome to the Tech Cat Show. It’s great to be here. We are three weeks away from the Consumer Electronics Show, where all the latest and greatest in consumer technologies is going to be demonstrated in Las Vegas. It’s an incredible week of seeing the latest in technology, and one of the things that everyone is so excited about and can’t stop talking about is the future of car, not only the connected car and what types of devices you’ll be able to use in your car, whether it’s Apple or Android or all the fun things that are happening with the tech inside of the car, but also with the concept of autonomous driving and the fact that we are now heading into a world where you’ll just sit in your car and that car will take you somewhere and all sorts of location-based services and technology will be at play. And when we talk about autonomous driving, it sounds like the future, and this is one case where the future is actually here today; and so on today’s show, I’m very excited, right on the heels of CES, to be interviewing and talking to Rahul Sonnad, who is the president of Tesloop, which is a really unique company— and I’m going to let Rahul explain it all because it’s really fascinating— but, Rahul and I have known each other for many years. He’s a serial entrepreneur, and I think this is one of his most exciting ventures, which is really the future of transportation. So, let’s have a big Tech Cat welcome for Rahul Sonnad of Tesloop! Everybody, woo!

 

Rahul: Thank you.

 

Lori: So, Rahul, tell us about Tesloop, and give us little background on yourself, because it’s always interesting to hear how people get to where they are.

 

Rahul: Yeah, sure. So, I guess the quick background on myself is I was in Seattle for a long time in the tech scene up there, first kind of in the traditional software space at Adobe Systems, working on desktop publishing, and then I used to design Microsoft Word, the word processor at Microsoft, and from there got quite interested in digital media at the same time the Internet started to happen. So, what we created back in 2000 was a video platform called The Platform that let large-scale video publishers push their content onto the Internet, and that went several years, and it ended up being acquired by Comcast and is still there to this day, and then I got into the mobile-application space. And recently I have become quite

 

fascinated, since about three years ago, with what Tesla’s doing; and that really, I think, was the genesis for Tesloop in kind of watching Elon Musk videos on YouTube and listening to the Tesla earnings’ calls. It became apparent that they were really just doing something very different with the car. And the analogy that I think we like to make is similar to what happened in, maybe, 2007 with the smart phone, where before that you had these dumb phones that weren’t connected to the Internet, really, that weren’t computers; and then Apple came along and said, hey, let’s make this a real communications platform; and we feel that Tesla is really doing that in the automobile space. So when you look at most cars outside, they’re human operated, gas powered, not on the Internet, not connected; and when you look at these new generation of Tesla vehicles, the Model S and now the Model X, their nodes on a network, they’re effectively rolling computer servers, and most interesting, they’re now starting to drive themselves.

 

Lori: God, I love that analogy of nodes on a network; I’ve never heard that referred to with cars, so that’s such a powerful metaphor to think about this, because, again, as I said in your intro, I think about autonomous vehicles as something that’s really far away; and all of us, even if you’re not in the technology business, you hear about these announcements from Tesla, and you’re, like, okay, that’s kind of scary, that’s interesting; but what you’re doing with Tesla is actually building a business model on top of this, right?

 

Rahul: That’s right. So, I think our business was really a result of saying, given what you have now and given where things are going, how do you best leverage that. So, the interesting things about the— what I call—the Tesla motors technology platform is that it’s all electric, of course, and this gives you some amazing economics, where the cost of fueling a car on electricity is probably about a seventh as using gas. So, the more gas you need, the more relative savings you get by going electric. And then the other big thing is autonomy, and Tesla has now what is called autopilot, so it’s the kind of first stage of an evolution of cars being able to fully drive themselves over the next few years. And for both of these factors, the electricity costs, the autonomy, and then, finally, the fact that electric motors last very long amounts of time compared to gas engines; there are no seals or gaskets or spark plugs or any of that, so you can drive them millions of miles, and in Tesla’s case they’re, in fact, warrantied of millions of miles. So we came up with a model of long-distance, city-to-city transport, and we’re now offering travel between southern California, Las Vegas, and, soon, Phoenix.

 

 

Lori: And the business model is that this is a ride-sharing solution. So a bunch of people, they could be all strangers, would get into a Tesla that one of your operators was managing, and then on the highway, it would be autonomous?

 

Rahul: Yeah, that’s right. So, think of it almost, like, as a similar model to when you book a seat on a plane. You get one seat, and there are other people who have booked the other seats; and you can either come to the Supercharger, which is kind of our airport, that’s our terminal, or we can pick you up on the way, which gives a little more flexibility than with planes—it’s hard to pick people up on the way. Since October, we started this in July, but since October we’ve come to a point where you can now—well, Tesla’s really come to a point where they have turned on the autopilot functionality. So once you’re on the highway, you can turn that on and the car both does automatic, like, gas and breaking, which they call adaptive cruise—and some other cars have this in place also, some Volvos and Mercedes and such—and then it also does automatic steering, so it keeps you in the lane. And we find that this is workable probably ninety-eight percent of the time on the way to Las Vegas. So, in most cases, the car can do everything it needs. There’re some times when they put cones in the road and close it down and such that you need to kind of take over, because the car is not yet programmed to detect those.

 

Lori: And what made you decide to make this a business, because I get that you’re an entrepreneur and you were excited about Teslas and you like the idea of sustainability, but what really pushed you over the edge in saying this could be a business?

 

Rahul: Yeah, so I think the interesting thing for us is we just came up with this idea in May and then in June we went down to the Tesla shareholders’ meeting in Mountain View. And the shareholders’ meeting is typically like Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, speaks about what’s happening at the company, and he stated that within three years he thought that you would be able to fall asleep in a car and the car would actually drive more safely than you would be driving. And to me that timeframe was really pretty astounding, because if you imagine a world where cars drive themselves, it opens up all sorts of possibilities. But, specifically kind of in the space of moving people back and forth between cities, if you can take out the risk of accidents or significantly lower that risk through leveraging the automation, it can really change the economics drastically, because now you would no longer need to pay for drivers. And then with Tesla, they also, for

 

long-distance travel, give you free electricity, so now you no longer have to pay for electricity or drivers and your cars can probably last well over a million miles. So when we looked at the actual cost basis of moving people, we determined that, you know, especially with the new Model X coming out in volume next year, that there’s really never been a cheaper way to move atoms around the world on roads. It’s just the cheapest way to move things.

 

Lori: When we come back Rahul, I want to talk to you a little bit more about what are some of the things that you’re learning now that you’ve been in this business for a while, and also, there are some really interesting things about Tesla that make Tesla the business to build this on top of, you know, and also we’re dealing with human beings, so I’d love to hear from you, like, what are some of the trends you’re seeing behaviorally now that you’re offering up this sort of very futuristic, science-fictiony opportunity for business travellers. So, we’ll be back in a moment with Tesloop, Rahul Sonnad, and the Tech Cat.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: Hi, everyone. Great to be back with the fabulous Rahul Sonnad from Tesloop, and we are just getting into the future of transportation, really, and I was just going to jump in and ask Rahul why Teslas, like, what is it about Teslas that allows us to create this whole new business model of ridesharing and autonomous driving? Like, why now and why Teslas?

 

Rahul: Yeah, so I think for us it really became interesting because of the kind of environmental benefits. So the fact that Teslas are electric, to me, really kind of changes the game on what we’re trying to do to say the more you use these, the more kind of emissions you can reduce and the more chance that we can convert people faster to a clean energy-consumption model. So that’s where it really started, but then there are a lot of electric cars out there, but when you look at our model, what we really need out of the electric cars is a few things. One is we need a big battery. So if we’re going to Las Vegas or Phoenix or even Palm Springs from Los Angeles, the bigger the battery, the better; and the Teslas can manage maybe, depending on how fast you’re going and how loaded, about two hundred twenty or thirty miles without charging; and they’re really the only car with that size of battery currently available in production. So that’s really important, and then the other really critical item is being able to charge that battery quickly on the way. So if you’re going more than the distance the battery holds, like from here to Las Vegas, we need a

 

place to charge it and we need to be able to charge it quickly; and that’s where the Tesla Supercharger infrastructure comes to play. So they built hundreds of Superchargers around the world, at a cost of over a billion dollars, and these Superchargers charge about fourteen times faster than your standard, like, forty-amp charger that you might find out in front of Whole Foods or something. So the combination of lots of Superchargers, three on the way to Vegas, and that we can plug into them and in twenty minutes we can get well over a hundred miles of charge makes Tesla really the only kind of vehicle infrastructure that you could run this type of business on. And then, lastly, it’s the autopilot driving functionality, where currently I would argue that that is ahead of everything else out there, and we think the trend for Tesla is going to increase the distance between other kind of assisted driving and what they have, to the point where I think yesterday or the day before Elon Musk was interviewed and quoted saying in two years the cars will completely drive themselves, safer than humans.

 

Lori: God, that’s just crazy. Well, what are you finding from people? I mean, I remember I was telling you that everyone I talk to about this with is blown away and kind of excited and this is, like, one of the cooler things right now out there. What are you finding about people in general? How are they responding to the concept of Tesloop?

 

Rahul: Yeah, so I think we benefit from this huge kind of affinity that people have towards the Tesla brand, and I think they should have the affinity because it’s really been groundbreaking from a technological perspective but then also in terms of its potential environmental impact and just industry impact of getting everybody else to switch to electric vehicles. I think it’s been just kind of the major catalyst in the space where nobody really took electric vehicles seriously prior to the Model S, and now I think you look at companies like Volkswagen and che and Mercedes and such all trying to figure out how they will migrate towards electric vehicles. So that’s been amazing, and the fact that people really love this car, the problem’s been it’s kind of a seventy- or eighty-thousand-or-more car, and most people have felt like, wow, I just can’t at this point access that from a budgetary perspective. And so when we can now say, hey, you don’t have to buy the car; you can just use it for your trip to Las Vegas or to Phoenix or, in the future, Santa Barbara or Palm Springs, I think this puts it into their realm; and when people get in the car, we hear quotes like, I feel like I’m in the future, you know, the car is just really amazing at how it’s designed; it’s silent; it’s amazingly comfortable; it has huge screens. And then I don’t think people come because they’re saving

 

two hundred fifty pounds of carbon emissions on that trip, but when they get out and we remind them that, and we give them our carbon credits, which are kind of our frequent-flyer miles, I think it reinforces the fact that they’re really part of a solution here to what’s a pretty big issue. It starts with the environment, but it extends to a lot of other problems that autonomy and electrification of vehicles will address.

 

Lori: And I know also as a business model, so right now you’re in California—well, you’re in Los Angeles and Culver City to Vegas, and you’re also doing Palm Springs. How do you determine where you light up, where the Supercharger stations are? Well, I mean, you’re not creating the Supercharger stations, but how do you determine what’s a smart place to put a Tesloop—I don’t know what you want to call it—station?

 

Rahul: Yeah, well, we call them our routes and, as you said, the routes, they need to have Superchargers on both ends because that’s where we need to charge the car; and in between runs, we want to get a full charge, so that takes about an hour and a half to charge the cars; so the simple one was Culver City to Las Vegas, downtown. We then expanded to Orange County. They just created a new Supercharger in Fountain Valley, we also do San Juan Capistrano, and, basically, I think we’re really well aligned, because Tesla is putting the Superchargers in places where there is a lot of road traffic and a lot of people around, so we are kind of following that. They just opened a new one in Burbank, I think, like, three days.

 

Lori: Three days, wow. I didn’t even hear about that.

 

Rahul: Yeah, I mean, they tell it to all the Tesla owners, or course. If you’re not a Tesla owner, it’s probably less important to you. Yeah, and if you look at their trend, every twenty hours they’re opening up a new Supercharger, so we see over the next two years they’re pretty much going to blanket both the U.S., western Europe, start moving into eastern Europe pretty heavily, Australia, Japan, China, and I heard Mexico, as well as Canada. So we think the kind of potential market for connecting Superchargers with cars is extremely large.

 

Lori: So, they’re opening up Superchargers every twenty hours? Do they look like gas stations? I mean, what does it look like?

 

Rahul: Yeah, I think they look like kind of a gas station of the future, where they have what looks almost like a pump. It’s a little thinner, and it’s what they call a pole; it’s basically the charger. And then

 

there’s just like there’s the gas nozzle thing, there’s the electric nozzle. You pull it off and you plug it in. So, yeah, they’re analogous to gas stations now. They’re much cleaner [unclear] big electrical infrastructure, and in the case of [unclear] City, they have solar panels on top of the mall—it’s a Westfield Mall that it’s in—and then those power the transformers that are near the charging poles, and they’re all kind of enclosed in these kind of closet-type structures. And what they try to do is put those in places where there are bathrooms and food and wi-fi so that when we drop you off at a Supercharger, there should be stuff nearby there that you can access.

 

Lori: So it closes the circle on the consumer’s experience, basically, that’s it’s a whole experience and as easy to do as an airport, because when you and I were talking, I was saying, well, I go to Burbank because I’m in the Early Valley in Los Angeles, and so Burbank airport’s, like, ten minutes away from me; so it would need to be in a location that makes sense for me, because the airport’s really easy right now. So you guys are being very strategic, too, about where you place these, right, so that it actually solves a transportation problem rather than just being a choice.

 

Rahul: Yeah, and I think you’re probably in the minority where the airport’s both close and easy. Burbank’s one of my more favorite airports, but if you live in Pasadena and you need to get to LAX, that’s a really long way away; and LAX, depending on where you’re going, is not necessarily—

 

Lori: It’s a nightmare. Rahul: —the easiest— Lori: It’s a nightmare.

Rahul: —transportation hub. So the difference here is we’re going to give people choice of Burbank or Culver City; Redondo; Orange County; Glendale, when it opens. So the ability to put chargers in different places is, you know, orders-of-magnitude easier than building airports, and the roads are already going to them. So, yeah, we think this could be much easier, and then there’s this kind of, as I said, inherent operational fact that the cars are on the highways. It’s really easy for us to stop in Pomona and pick somebody up; so they don’t need to get to Burbank, they just stay where they are, go to a hotel or a Starbucks that’s kind of a designated pickup point, and we can get them. So they can do a five-minute Uber and pull their suitcase out of

 

the Uber; put it into our vehicle—no security check, no hassles, no waiting in line; they can get on wi-fi immediately; have a cold beverage and a snack that we give; and have a productive three and a half hours to Vegas, which is better than an unproductive four hours to Vegas if they had to drive all the way to LAX.

 

Lori: Wow. I just want to do that just to get away from my family. So, you’re really sitting at the center of a revolution, because I’m thinking to myself, well, I just finally own my car—I just made my last payment on my Acura—and should I even buy another car? And I think that’s a question that a lot of people are going to start to ask as we move into this world of ridesharing and other models. So, we’re going to take a break now, but when we come back, I want to ask Rahul, like, what other tech trends, even martech trends, are you seeing that are interesting and that are going to maybe even play into some of where you’re going with Tesloop as a business. So we’ll be back, talking more about the future of transportation, and the future of everything really, with the very smart and very entrepreneurial Rahul Sonnad from Tesloop.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: And welcome back, everybody. We are talking to Rahul Sonnad of Tesloop. He’s the president of a company that is actually focused on a sustainable ridesharing business, using Teslas, and the fact that you can now actually get inside of an autonomous vehicle and be driven to a location. So, Rahul, what other tech trends do you think are impacting where your business is going, and do you see other things sort of wrapping into all of this that’s going to drive more activations?

 

Rahul: Yeah, so, I mean, I think when you look at the automobile space in general, there are a lot of things that are really all converging, and some of that kind of is on the Tesla side where you have electrification and then the first stages of autonomy converging, but then I think Uber’s kind of proved out that this idea of connecting the mobile phone to the cars is incredibly powerful; and I think in their model, as well as with companies like BlaBlaCar in Europe, they leverage the fact that there are these cars sitting around that are kind of underutilized, and they’ve created a way to fill them with more people and use them more often. So that kind of mobile-phone-to- mobile-vehicle connection is quite interesting, but I think, moving forward, once you have autonomy really working—and I think, again, that comes quickly. That comes in the next two to three years,

 

basically, and [Skype drop] multiple vendors will have cars that are able to technically drive themselves. And then this is going to have just huge impacts on society, and there are simple but important things like reducing deaths. So there are thirty thousand deaths in the

U.S. a year; and in India, there are, like, a million deaths a year from traffic accidents, and in both of these countries the number of injuries is, like, an order of magnitude more. So you have safety, you have the environmental benefit, and then you’re going to have less and less traffic as autonomy lets you pack more people into the same amount of highway space. And then I think lastly, as you said, should you buy another car. The model of vehicle ownership, I think, is really going to start to transform as soon as, like, two to three years out, where already I think I find in Los Angeles there are a lot of people who are saying, I don’t really need a car in Los Angeles. Between Uber and the new rail stuff, I can get around more cheaply than actually buying a car and insuring it and parking it. And I think nobody, like, the cliché in Los Angeles has always been, like, you know, you can’t live without a car. But I think that’s changing, and I think, as we move forward, that’s going to change to affect a much higher percentage of the people.

 

Lori: That is a mind blow. I saw a graphic the other day that showed what a street looked like with, like, thirty cars on it, carrying, like, thirty people, then what it looked like carrying a couple of ridesharing vehicles, then what it looked like with a bus, then what it looked like with a train, and it just showed both from a convenience, clean-air, sustainability model, like, how it was getting better and better and better the more we moved away from these individual vehicles. So it just blows my mind away. And you’re absolutely right, I’ve lived in this town for twenty years and now I, myself, in the evenings rarely drive because I’m tired and I don’t feel like dealing with it, so I Uber everywhere in the evenings. And it’s actually created a situation where I’m going out more because the stress of the driving and just the, you know, it’s the end of the day and you’re tired, I don’t have to think about it anymore because it is a bear to drive in some of these big cities where there’s so much congestion. So it does start to change your life, you know?

 

Rahul: Yeah, and then your relative costs, since you’re not driving in the evening, of owning your car for the other drive gets higher and higher until its tipping point, when you’re like I don’t need this car anymore.

 

Lori: Yeah, and I do have friends that have already done that. In fact, I have a couple of friends who have stopped insuring cars that just sit around for their kids and other things. It just doesn’t make sense anymore. So they figure out something else when their kids are home from breaks, because the insurance to just keep the car viable on the streets is just not worth it anymore. So we’re looking at really a huge, traumatic shift, I think, for the automotive industry here. Now do you see any automotive brands sort of, besides Tesla, moving in this direction to protect their category?

 

Rahul: Yeah, well, I think kind of next year is the year that really everybody has to have a strategy around this, and I think you see the beginnings of that with kind of the Google Ford announcement a couple days ago where they’re in talks to have Google autonomous technology power Ford cars. I think there’s a lot of, kind of what I call, like, marketing wear, for electric cars where Porsche is saying they’re going to have in three years this Mission E car that will be fully electric. Now I think the question is, will any of these car companies really go all in with electric, and I think Tesla at this point is the only one that has—and now joined by Faraday Future, which is kind of a new company that should be making an announcement at CES. So we’ll see what they’re actually planning to do. I think Apple remains a mystery, but you’d have to assume that that’s going to be some type of all-electric offering; and then I think with Google and Ford, my guess is Google’s ambitions don’t end there, and they would be looking for lots of other global partners to use their autonomy on, which may or may not be also combined with electric cars. I mean, it could be an electric or it could be, potentially, on a gas vehicle that they employ those. So, the reality is that I think when you talk to the people that I respect in the industry, everybody feels that electric is the future and, really, just the question is, how long is that; and the car companies really need to change to that, and they need to figure out how their businesses evolve in a world where cars are being shared by three or five or ten people and, thus, the total volume of cars that is needed starts to decline every year.

 

Lori: I don’t know what to do with my hands right now I’m so excited about what you’re talking about. So, for you personally, I mean, do you own a Tesla?

 

Rahul: No. So, for my personal car I have my old Honda minivan, and it’s nice and reliable and let’s me put everything I need in the car. I mean, I love Teslas, and I think if money is not an issue for you at all, it’s the safest car to be in and it’s probably worth it. But the reality

 

of those cars is that if you’re driving them a thousand miles a month or less, they’re really expensive compared to other options that are out there, especially used cars, so I am kind of setting my personal sights on the Model 3 that should come out in volume in 2018, and that will be a thirty-five-thousand-dollar car that I expect will drive itself anywhere more safely than people can, and I think that’s really going to be the breakthrough revolution of bringing both electrification and autonomy to the masses.

 

Lori: I mean, it’s funny because just as you’re talking, I’m sitting here going, all right, what can I do to get to 2018. Can I just keep this car? Do you see other businesses, then, sprouting out of all of this? Will there be other consumer categories, other products, other things that engage, because you mentioned there are folks sitting in a car, they have wi-fi, there are snacks, there are going to be these places that people now go where the Superchargers are located. It seems to me that there’ll be new business categories that will grow out of this entire environment.

 

Rahul: Yeah, so, I mean, I think there’s a lot that’s happening, and some of it is kind of going to be related to supporting people who are in these cars, and then the other is, like, more in the car industry itself. So if you look at something like car rentals, you know, my guess is the model now for a car rental needs to radically change, because, again, even when I find when I rent a car, I use it for a couple of hours and then I’m somewhere for a while and the car is sitting there. In a world of autonomous vehicles, I think there’s a lot more potential there to have higher utilization of that car, which will then bring down the price. And then even if you look at car dealerships, the model now is they buy the car from the manufacturer and they sell it to you. I think that starts to change where, effectively, its seems like Uber is your nighttime car dealership. At this point they’ve already kind of replaced that slot for you, so I think the number of businesses that sprout up around the changes in automotive technology is going to be surprising and somewhat unpredictable. I mean, I think it’s kind of like when the Internet came out, it was hard to imagine what will the big businesses be, or once social networking came out, it was a little hard to imagine, okay, what are all the implications of that. I think it’s one of the really, kind of, big, profound transformations that’s about to happen.

 

Lori: Yeah, and what I love about it is it’s a transformation for good as opposed to just a transformation, which some of these things have been over the last year or two. Everything’s moving so fast, but it’s

 

not always for the betterment of mankind, some of these changes; they’re just changes. So this, to me, is, like, a good thing in so many different ways. I just don’t know if I could handle being in a ridesharing, intimate car situation with some perfect strangers—just because that’s who I’ve become, someone that may not like to be that close to three people I don’t know.

 

Rahul: Yeah, I think that was a big worry of ours when we started, like, you know, how will it work with three random people, and what we actually found is that in most cases people are perfectly happy, and in several cases people make good friends, and there’s some affinity because they’ve come together because it’s a new high-tech thing and they were daring enough to try a new service, and we find a lot of people making friends and exchanging cards and connecting afterwards and even seeing each other again on future rides.

 

Lori: Oh.

 

Rahul: We think there’s some benefit there, and for people who really want to be alone in the car, there’s always that option, but, of course, it’s going to be more expensive to have a car taking just you somewhere versus sharing it with others. And I think you see the same thing with Lyft and Uber and their line and pool products, where if you want a discount, you share it; if you want to pay a little more, you can have it by yourself.

 

Lori: Well, I’m definitely a princess in that light, but when we come back, more on Tesloop and the future of cars after this break.

 

{Commercial Break}

 

Lori: We’re wrapping up with the fabulous Rahul of Tesloop and talking to him all about the future of automotive, and just some questions for you, Rahul, where do you go for inspiration, because, obviously, you’re on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the automotive category, and you’re really putting together a lot of pieces in new technology. Where do you go to learn about things?

 

Rahul: So, my main source for, like, learning about things was always, like, Tesla shareholders’ meetings, like, audio calls, where I think there are so many gems in there in terms of kind of where that company’s heading and how they’re envisioning things moving forward.

 

Lori: Is anyone allowed to listen in on those calls?

 

Rahul: Yeah. So you just go to their site; and they’re a public company, so it’s all public stuff; and they’re all archived. They’re all on YouTube. There’s a channel called “Every Elon Musk Video Ever,” and on that channel all the Tesla calls are available, so that’s probably the easiest place.

 

Lori: Oh my god, that’s crazy. “Every Elon Musk Video Ever.” Rahul: Yeah.

Lori: God.

 

Rahul: That’s also a good source of other kind of information. There’s been just personally, like, when some of my favorites are there, it’s, like, a twenty-minute talk by Elon Musk of him launching the Tesla Energy product that I think is just—

 

Lori: A mind blow?

 

Rahul: —very inspiring, yeah.

 

Lori: Is he just himself, just the biggest brain in the world, or is he someone that smartly has surrounded himself and built an operation of really brilliant people who are able to execute, or is it really him? Is it just him and he’s pulling the strings, or are there—did he—has he just an amazing team that’s pulling this all out?

 

Rahul: I mean, I think it’s definitely both of those. I mean, it’s him that attracts amazing people, and it’s his dedication to the mission, be it changing energy and transportation to be friendly or getting humanity to another planet as an insurance policy—like he believes in that, convinces others—and then I think what is kind of different about him than most of the entrepreneurs that we admire of this century is he’s a physicist. Like, he has figured out how to actually move things in the real world in ways that are, you know, with the rocket landing now, they’re going to bring the cost of moving things into space down by, like, a hundred x.

 

Lori: God.

 

Rahul: And similarly, with the Model X, moving things on the road is now effectively going to be about ten times cheaper next year than it

 

was last year. So I don’t think anybody has kind of in a large scale really applied this level of innovation to actual physical-world changes; and, of course, the physical world and the computerized world are in this convergence mode now, where everything’s coming together, so the opportunities are really amazing.

 

Lori: Do you go online every day and read a certain amount of newsletters and go to certain sites every day? Are you one of those people that habitually does his reading in the a.m.?

 

Rahul: Yeah. I mean, basically, like, I follow all the stock information on Tesla and Fuller City and Mobileye and Nvidia and kind of related companies, so there’s a lot of news coming out of that, as well as just anything that my alerts hit. So, yeah.

 

Lori: Is it totally, for you now, focused on your business and on the categories that impact your business, or are you looking at other categories as well?

 

Rahul: I mean, personally there are some things that just interest me, but my current focus is a hundred percent about Tesloop, like for everybody here, we’re really planning to create a company that gives everybody an option to sustainably travel. And initially that’s going to mean city-to-city travel, but I think as we go out a few years, we want to make sure that we can be the conduit to get people into sustainable options well before they would, kind of, organically occur or they would organically be able to afford them.

 

Lori: I wonder if, does Elon Musk have little kids, because maybe I could aim for a son-in-law into his family.

 

Rahul: Yeah, he has five boys.

 

Lori: Oh, good! Okay, well, I have a beautiful six-year-old girl, so maybe I can make a shitock, as my people say, with a really good gene pool.

 

Rahul: You never know when arranged marriages are coming back.

 

Lori: That’s right. That could be something that comes back because we don’t have to worry about sustainability anymore.

 

Rahul: Yeah, that could be a new app.

 

Lori: That could be a new app, that’s right. What about, are you going to any conferences coming up that you think are really valuable? Are there any, like, auto-vertical conferences you’re going to be going to?

 

Rahul: You know, we don’t have a schedule set for next year. I mean, CES, I think is going to be really interesting from an automotive standpoint. I mean, I think there are a lot speakers, and then the Faraday Future announcement will bring a lot of press and such. So, I mean, I think that’ll be the first interesting thing. And there are a lot of other conferences, but, like, for us, I feel like the mainstay automobile industry is kind of not what we’re focused on. We’re really much more focused on this concept of mobility. Like, in Berlin there was just a conference on mobility I think last month; so, like, things like that are kind of more in our—

 

Lori: Transportation rather than automotive.

 

Rahul: Yeah. It’s about transportation and how to move people between—

 

Lori: So, this is a global focus, right, because I remember you telling me you were getting calls from other regions outside of the U.S. and North America who are really interested in what you were doing.

 

Rahul: Yeah. I mean, we get mail and tweets from all over. I think, you know, Tesla has a global footprint, so they have a lot of fans in a lot of different markets, but, generally, this concept of moving people more efficiently, it is a global phenomenon, and the need to reduce emissions and such are arguably even more important than other countries than they are in the United States. So we see what we’re doing as having very side-spread global applicability.

 

Lori: I mean, I think I can’t wait to see what happens next with all of this, and, obviously, at the Consumer Electronics Show we’re all going to be spending a lot of time in North Hall, trying to understand what’s next. Are you doing any speeches or anything anywhere that people can come and hear you?

 

Rahul: No. So, I’m just going this time as a spectator— Lori: A human.

 

Rahul: —and I’m driving back and forth as a Tesloop pilot in between, so it’s going to be kind of busy on those fronts for me.

 

Lori: And if people want to experience Tesloop now, they go to tesloop.com to make a reservation?

 

Rahul: Yeah, go to tesloop.com and you can make a reservation between southern California and Las Vegas; and if you’re in southern California and want to go to other places, send us a mail and we’d love to hear what your plans are.

 

Lori: And you’re tweeting @Tesloop and @rahuliox; and if people want to also maybe get involved with your company, are you still doing any investing, taking investments? Where are you guys in your status?

 

Rahul: Yeah, so, we’re a very new company and will be raising money next year. We’re also looking for great people to get involved on the, specifically, technology side, on the marketing side of things. So our plan is to really ramp things up next year; and for any company, finding people who really love the concept and are eager to participate is something that’s really important.

 

Lori: Well, it’s been fascinating talking to Rahul Sonnad of Tesloop and hearing all about the future of mobility, the future of transportation, with your fabulous startup called Tesloop, which is all about sustainable driving through a rideshare program leveraging the beautiful and sort of future-looking Teslas and Superchargers; and everything that we’re hearing about the future with what you guys are doing is so exciting. So, check out tesloop.com, look for @Tesloop on your Twitter feed, and spread the word about what Rahul’s doing. It’s so important to our future to move to a more sustainable model. So, thank you so much, Rahul.

 

Rahul: Yes, thank you. So nice to be here.

 

Lori: Thanks, everybody. See you next week at the Tech Cat Show, more on the Consumer Electronics Show and what’s happening there as we get ready for one of the biggest technology shows in the world, happening in January in Las Vegas. See you then.