Elon Musk’s “Initial Flamethrower Offering” explained

Justin Alvey
4 min readFeb 6, 2018


Elon Musk’s The Boring Company recently sold out 20,000 flamethrowers:

Let’s go back a few days, to explain how it all began…

Elon Musk is sitting in the Boring Company offices in Hawthorne late one evening. Most employees have already left and a few friends are hanging around before heading out to catch some late dinner. Someone mentions the recent buzz around crypto investing and ICO’s, prompting a few of the bystanders to pitch in with stories that make Gordon Gekko look like a Girl Scout raffle winner.

A Boring employee, a technical prodigy with vetted experience in building critical systems for rockets before his new gig boring tunnels, pipes up: “You know, it is kind of giving me some fear of missing out, that everyone is seemingly making all this money from crypto and raising millions with ICO’s. I know I’m doing important work here, but there’s a nagging corner of my brain that says…”

“Anyone can do an ICO, it’s not hard” Elon interjects.

“But I don’t really know much about cryptocurrencies. If I …” the employee begins. Elon cuts in as if he never finished his earlier train of thought, “It’s just a means to an end, you know, raising money to build technology. Pretty simple. We could even do one”

The employee looks skeptical, considering what he could have unknowingly got himself into, given some of Elon’s previous demands.

“All you do is offer people something that sounds cool,” says Elon, “that the vast majority of people will never ACTUALLY use, then say you will release it in a limited quantity at a price thats way more than it’s actually worth,” pausing before striking home the fourth point, “… and lastly, have everyone rush to buy it because they THINK it will be more valuable one day.”

“But we can’t do that, we’re building tunnel networks” the employee exclaims.

“It doesn’t matter, we already have — you remember when we sold 50,000 hats? We could do the same tomorrow, with a a freakin’…” — Elon stutters a bit, his eyes race around as he’s thinking — “what did we say? A f-f-freakin’ FLAMETHROWER…”

“Dude,” someone pipes up, grinning, “he is Elon Musk… If anyone could sell something crazy like that it’d be him.”

“You know what, lets do it…” says Elon, as he pulls out his phone and starts to tap away.

A few days later…

Boring Company “IFO” (Initial Flamethrower Offering) - no whitepaper even needed

Elon, to employee: “You see, we got $10 million. That was fun AND easy! Now let’s get back to building that technology”

Elon Musk, with simulations of the earth before (left) and after the release of the flamethrower (right)

And so the Boring Company continues its work in building the transportation infrastructure of the future, with a fresh $10m in funding. Hopefully nobody gets injured by the 20,000 glorified garden torches in the hands of his greatest fanboys.


Or not. So, this story is completely fictional. Or rather, I completely made this story up yesterday morning over coffee, and we can leave it to Elon himself to clarify how it actually happened.

But Boring company did just raise $10m in 4 days, and flamethrowers are already on sale on eBay for up to 10x of their “initial offering” price.

I have nothing against cryptocurrencies themselves, nor the idea behind ICO’s (side-note: I do believe we’ll see significant technological progress in crypto this year towards scalability and real-life applications, and see ICO’s being a disruptive new fundraising vehicle for some use-cases where traditional venture capital falls short), but I do see their hype as a distraction to the mission of building technology — which you can probably guess is the take-home message of my modern-day parable above.

Being a hardware guy, I admittedly did order one, but just like Bitcoin, hopefully society will not degrade to the point where we’ll have no choice but to ACTUALLY use it…

Defending against zombies? Nope — but the perfect Crème brûlée awaits

If you liked this please clap away below. If you’re a fan of hardware take a look at some of my teardowns here, or wait till I’ll be the first to take apart the Boring flamethrower — obviously only after some performance testing… 🔥