Martin Eberhard
Founder & Former CEO, Tesla Motors
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Biography Print Bio

Martin Eberhard is an engineer, a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and inventor on at least 17 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.

Eberhard 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, Eberhard founded NuvoMedia with his colleague, Marc Tarpenning, where they developed the Rocket eBook, the first eBook with secure internet delivery of content. Eberhard served as Chairman and CEO until NuvoMedia’s acquisition by Gemstar in 2000.

In 2002, after their successful exit from Nuvomedia, Eberhard and his colleague, Marc Tarpenning, founded Tesla Motors, where Eberhard served as its CEO until November, 2007. Together, Eberhard 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.

Eberhard’s 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 actually 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, Eberhard left Tesla Motors with a fair bit of press drama, as his largest investor took control of the company. Despite the drama, Eberhard is very pleased to watch Tesla succeed in the trajectory that he first envisioned.

Since leaving Tesla Motors, Eberhard 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.

Speech Topics

  • Building a Culture of Innovation: From E-books to Electric Cars to...?
  • The Business of Green
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