Hello! I’m Marc Tarpenning, an engineer, serial co-founder (of NuvoMedia and Tesla, Inc), and Venture Partner at Spero Ventures.
Since the start of my career, I’ve always followed one rule: find an interesting problem and come up with a solution that makes the world a better place. This principle led me to help build a number of innovative and successful businesses. It’s also my guiding principle as an investor: I want to help entrepreneurs bring about radical change in old industries by creating sustainable products and experiences that are significantly better than the old way of doing things.
One of my first jobs involved constant travel to and from Saudi Arabia. Quickly, I grew frustrated with carrying heavy books around the world and identified that as a viable problem to solve. Around that time I met Martin Eberhard, a fellow engineer with whom I founded NuvoMedia in 1997 and built one of the first e-readers, the Rocket Book. Three years later, we sold the company for $187 million.
Having struck onto a winning collaboration, Martin and I decided to target an even larger scale problem: oil. Recognizing that oil is an environmental disaster and is mostly used for transportation, we set out to disrupt the car industry by building vehicles capable of running on a different fuel source. In 2003, we founded Tesla, Inc (then Tesla Motors) with the aim of making high-end electric vehicles before moving into the mass market.
If you’re curious about the early days of Tesla, you might enjoy my videos and interviews.
Venture and more
Since leaving Tesla, I have been an entrepreneur in residence, consultant, mentor, speaker, and two-term publicly elected school board member. I’m now with Spero Ventures, an early-stage VC in pursuit of sustainable abundance.
Outside of work, I’m a deeply curious person who’s always learning new things through conferences, meetups, books, and courses. If you want to stay up to speed with what I’m learning and doing, I invite you to sign up for my occasional updates. And if you’re an entrepreneur building something awesome? Get in touch anytime via firstname.lastname@example.org.