The Founder of True Tesla Technologies on the real legacy of Nikola Tesla, finding the courage to struggle, and the power of blockchain to give liberty back to the people.
When the body of 86 year old Nikola Tesla was discovered in the room of the New Yorker Hotel where he had lived for the better part of a decade, the FBI seized his possessions for analysis. This might seem odd, but consider that this was at the height of the second world war, and Tesla had on many occasions bragged that he had invented and built a Death Ray that could unleash catastrophic killer rays, and you might forgive the Americans for wanting to see what the old man had locked up in his room.
It fell to John G Trump – the uncle of current US President Donald Trump – then a professor at MIT, to examine the great man’s effects. No Death Ray was found, and eventually, the inventor’s possessions were shipped back to his native Belgrade, where they are currently housed in the Nikola Tesla Museum. Naturally, a counter-narrative exists, wherein the Death Ray was found, along with all manner of other extraordinary inventions, which the government doesn’t want us to know about. When the US government declassified documents it had held in secret on Tesla a few years ago, some files were omitted, adding fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories circulating online.
Indeed the notion that the US government really did recover the Tesla Death Ray from that New York hotel room holds an understandable fascination. Add the Trump name into the mix and the story becomes even more alluring, particularly to those whose only knowledge of Tesla stems from David Bowie’s performance as the inventor in Christopher Nolan’s movie The Prestige. More likely than not there was no Death Ray, as Tesla had never, as he had claimed, built one. But the illusion lives on, while with every passing year interest in Tesla grows, even if most people only know the Tesla name through the clanging Tweets of Elon Musk.
But what if I were to tell you that an inventor with the Tesla name was currently working on patents and inventions in obscurity in Belgrade? This Tesla is not working on a Death Ray, but he claims to have designed a system for generating electricity that he says has the potential to change the world. Deane Thomas, the founder of True Tesla Technologies, sees it as his mission to bring this new Tesla’s work to the attention of the globe, for the betterment of mankind. But is this another illusion?
I’ve spoken with Deane twice over the past three months. When we first talked, Deane was in Croatia, struggling to stay in the country. He had been served with a removal order by the Croatian authorities and was planning a move to Russia. When we next meet, Deane is in Belgrade and at something of a low point. He is setting his sights on Mauritius but hasn’t been able to raise the funds to get there. He sounds exasperated as he relates the difficulties he is experiencing getting his project off the ground and the frustration of having to stay with friends in Belgrade.
“This is the struggle of stepping into the unknown. I didn’t get to Russia. I’m currently in Belgrade, Serbia. Wherever I go I am met with the same air of disbelief as Nikola Tesla experienced himself. It’s so frustrating, knowing what I know. We have technology in our possession that can really transform the planet, and nobody cares. That’s the dilemma of stepping out to find the right financiers for this project. It’s a case of finding someone who knows that what has happened before will happen again. I know what I have in my hands, but nobody wants to support it. It’s ironic, in a society that speaks so much about trying to promote energy independence and sustainability.”
Our discussion covers Nikola Tesla, his grand-nephew Tomislav Tesla whose inventions are at the heart of True Tesla Technologies, Deane’s struggles to be heard, and the reasons why investors and governments won’t assist Deane and Tesla bring sustainable energy to Africa, the grand plan set out on the True Tesla Technologies website. Deane’s story requires a leap of faith, and in some ways characterises an aspect of blockchain that is far removed from Bitcoin and financial services – it’s the story of the outsiders who see this tech as a method of wrestling control back from states and corporations. Deane puts it this way:
“Blockchain is mindful of its actions and is focused on liberating us, allowing us to maneuver in a way where we don’t have to rely on the system. It is one step towards global liberty and global freedom. There is always going to be a resistance to that by those who have supported the system we have today.”
But let’s go back to the beginning. What are these inventions and what does Deane want to achieve? And, crucially, why is nobody listening?
“This is simple technology. Tomislav ’s technology is a turbine that will sit behind a weir and generate electricity. It’s no more complicated than that. It relies on physics, kinetic energy and converting kinetic energy into electricity. Nothing complicated. The units are less expensive to manufacture than current solar and wind energy systems. But our units have a far longer life span. We see in the UK that some companies are constructing hydropower units in weirs and are vandalising the environment in the process. Tesla’s technology doesn’t rely on land-based systems to work – it uses the natural resources available, with only a small amount of concrete, causing no damage to the environment.”
On the question of why the company is struggling, Deane speaks plainly. “I can’t see into the mind of investors. But when I look at crowdfunding, I believe that people are only looking for gadgets and things to consume. They’re not interested in reading something that says that we are going to change the planet. Corporate financiers are focussed on the bottom line, and they see us as a threat to their existing clients. Venture capitalists are not dreamers, they won’t take a leap of faith on a project. The other problem we see is that nobody in Europe knows about Nikola Tesla. He was erased from our history. I only found out about him when I was 48 years old. Everything in your house today is attributable to Nikola Tesla. Your microwave, radio, wifi, internet – these all go back to Tesla’s creations.”
Deane sees similarities with his own struggles and those experienced by Tesla at the dawn of the twentieth century. Indeed, the cyclical nature of history and the influence of astrology are a core part of Deane’s philosophy.
“In 1899, when Tesla commenced his work on the Niagara Falls project, it was exactly the same. This is like the same moment in time but 130 years later. Life is a cycle. When we look at history and astrology we can see the same patterns that were there in the 1930s. People are told they are crazy when they say they are looking at astrology. But it’s happening again. This is not an illusion. The same sequence of events that happened in the 1930s is happening again, and it’s all there in the astrological charts. We haven’t evolved as humankind – we are going in a massive cycle. We can see the buildup to 1939 happening again. This is real.”
Deane finds meaning in failure as well as success. His first encounter with Tomislav, who also lives in Serbia, was a cosmic moment, which he describes as a “love connection”. He spoke of this love connection when he addressed the Moscow Chamber of Commerce last year. Love is a word rarely used in business, but Deane will never shy away from emotion.
“I met Tomislaw through the school of the child of my ex-partner. If I was a capitalist, I would disregard this fact. I am no longer with that woman and have no contact with her child. But it’s important, because of the seed of creation. Nikola Tesla tells us to take things back to their simplest form. How are we created? From a seed. After this, we are programmed by our parents and peers. I’ve been very careful not to allow this project to be contaminated by people’s greed and negative intentions. Look at Nikola Tesla – he allowed corporations to exploit him. But if I retain the purity of how True Tesla Technologies was created, it will attract the right investors. Maybe I’m foolish, but I’ve seen what greed can do to businesses. That’s what I mean about love. It’s the love for what I’m doing. I’m not angry that I’m in this situation. I chose this path for a reason. I know what I can do. I’m seeking, more than anything, someone who can join me on this journey. The answer is waiting for me in Mauritius.”
Deane wants to make it to Mauritius because the government and universities there are aware of his work and are waiting to support his project. “It will be a co-operation. The energy sector in Mauritius is private. Should this technology be listed as a natural interest it becomes a specification. Then the private sector has to approach us to use the products. There are tens of millions of euros sitting in Mauritius for installing and developing sustainable energy solutions, so we know the money is there. It’s not about the government giving us the money. Remember, we are not selling the technology. We are offering the project drawings only. Tomislav will receive a royalty for energy generation. Local manufacturers will build the turbines and industries will rise around the maintenance of these turbines, helping the local economy. We expect a fair price for the drawings of course. There are no losers in this scenario.”
Deane is as determined as ever to succeed because he despairs about how we are treating our planet. “We are destroying our planet. There is no future unless we change as human beings. We have to change how we act towards one another. Just look at what’s going on in the world. They are building hydro plants in China that will destroy the environment. Brazil is doing exactly the same thing. There is no desire to look at simple technologies, like ours. This is the sad part of capitalism and globalisation. We need to look at what we are doing on our own doorsteps, and in our own lives. We’re just caretakers of this planet. We’ve fallen into this trap of commercialism and consumerism. It’s not getting any better.”
Until he can find the means of making it to Mauritius, Deane is effectively stuck in Serbia, unable to return to Croatia where he had lived for some years, and unwilling to return to his native UK. “I have friends who are keeping me going, but that generosity is dwindling. They know my work, but there comes a point where they will stop believing because nothing is moving forward.”
Surely Deane is tempted to just give in. “All I need is €1000 to get to Mauritius. I’ve organised crowdfunding campaigns, but nobody is supporting it. Nobody is interested in the genius of Tomislav. What will I do? I will survive. But there will come a point where I will switch off and have to focus on looking after myself. I don’t deserve to live like this, and neither do my colleagues. We are all in the same boat. We cannot understand why we are finding it so difficult to get me to Mauritius. We know the money is there.”
A few days after we spoke, I received an email from Deane telling me that he had suddenly raised the funding to travel to Mauritius. Fast forward a few days and Deane has safely arrived on the island. I asked him how it felt to make such a huge leap forward in his mission.
“I am very grateful that someone supported the vision by financing the ticket and some accommodation. But the ongoing needs are still real. I have limited funds, so I am trusting someone else will also see the vision and support the Go Fund Me campaign. It is like stepping back in time to be honest, as Mauritius was once under British rule; The remnants are still visible even in the road signs!! It’s quite ironic.
Perhaps the feeling is that I know there is a way to transform many aspects of Island living, that will enable dependency of fossil fuels and outside support to dwindle. I feel excited about the possibilities, yet open-minded about their reception. I don’t want to be perceived as an outsider coming along waving a magic wand. Sharing ideas and visions are the keys to empowering others, and I trust this will be embraced by some of the leaders and institutions I connect with.
Whilst I am here to fulfil my mission I will take time for myself to appreciate the environment I am in. It is Paradise, therefore spending time on the beach and having fun are part of this too. This is perhaps some aspect of my own life I did not implement when I was younger; I took work too seriously and this lead to many family issues because work came before pleasure. I am of the mind today that everything shall be in balance. I am fortunate my office is where ever I am presenting or speaking about opportunities. I trust one day that others will be inspired to follow their true inner calling and reach for the stars to achieve incredible things in the world.”