This is the web version of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. To get it delivered daily to your in-box, sign up here.
The archetype of the eccentric genius goes back way before Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, before Marie Curie and Nikola Tesla, before Mozart and Shakespeare. Think of Sappho and Pythagoras or even to myths like Icarus and Daedalus and Cassandra. In the 20th century, we added a new twist: the eccentric genius billionaire, like John D. Rockefeller and Howard Hughes.
There’s an obvious reason why the genius needs to be eccentric—the better to see the world not as it is, but as it could be. Change is hard, the forces of stasis powerful, the views in favor of the status quo entrenched.
Which brings us to the case of Elon Musk.
Lately, we’ve been focused on the first half of the archetype, the eccentric, with him. It’s almost hard to remember that Musk helped pioneer online payments despite the power of the credit card industry, pioneered private spaceflight despite the power of defense contractors and government space agencies, and pioneered the first popular electric car in a century despite the powers of …