Founder, Original Chairman and CEO, Tesla
Martin Eberhard is an engineer, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and inventor on at least 22 patents. He received a BS in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1982 and an MS in Electrical Engineering from the same school in 1984. Recently, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award and an Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from The University of Illinois.
He co-founded Network Computing Devices in 1987, where he served as Chief Engineer through its IPO on 1992, developing several successful products there. In 1996, he founded NuvoMedia with his colleague, Marc Tarpenning, where they developed the Rocket eBook, the first eBook with secure internet delivery of content. He served as Chairman and CEO until NuvoMedia’s acquisition by Gemstar in 2000.
In 2002, after their successful exit from Nuvomedia, he and his colleague, Marc Tarpenning, founded Tesla Motors, where he served as its CEO until November 2007. Together, he and Tarpenning reinvented the electric car, changing public perception of electric cars to fast, sexy desirable cars that will obviously become the future of transportation.
His key innovations have set the way for all subsequent electric cars: 1) an electric car should not be a compromise. With the right technology choices, it is possible to build electric cars that are better cars than their competition. 2) Battery technology is key to a successful electric car. Lithium ion batteries are not only suitable of automotive use, but are game-changing, making decent driving range a reality. 3) If designed right, electric cars can appeal to even the most serious car enthusiast, as electric drive is capable of seriously outperforming internal combustion engines.
In 2007, he left Tesla Motors with a fair bit of press drama, as his largest investor took control of the company. Despite the drama, he is very pleased to watch Tesla succeed in the trajectory that he first envisioned.
Since leaving Tesla Motors, he served for two years as Director of EV Development at Volkswagen. He has lectured around the world on reasons and methods for reducing the use of carbon fuels, on the advantages of electric drive over other automotive technologies, and on entrepreneurship and the need for more young people to pursue degrees and careers in science and engineering. He currently serves on Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards of several innovative, early-stage Silicon Valley startup companies.
He has recently founded a new startup company in the large-scale energy storage space.