Elon Musk is a business magnate, engineer, and inventor. He is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX; cofounder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder and CEO of Neuralink; and co-founder of PayPal. Musk founded SpaceX in 2002, with the intention of creating the technologies to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.
Later, in 2004, Musk founded Tesla, Inc. with the goal of making electric cars more affordable, with a long-term goal to disrupt the car industry. The company’s first vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, debuted in 2008, and the company has since launched four more vehicles: Model S, Model X, Model 3, and the forthcoming Model Y.
In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet. He has also envisioned a concept for a new form of tunnel boring machine, and has proposed a VTOL supersonic jet.
Elon’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/elonmusk
Elon’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elonmusk/
Elon’s bio at Tesla.com: https://www.tesla.com/elon-musk
Elon’s early years
Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. He has a younger brother, Kimbal (born in 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born in 1974). Musk’s paternal grandmother was British, and he also has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. His mother is a Canadian-born model and nutritionist from Regina, Saskatchewan. After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in locations in South Africa.
When Musk was ten, his father bought a house in Bryanston, Johannesburg. After the divorce, Musk lived mostly with his father in locations in South Africa. Musk was severely bullied throughout his childhood, and was once hospitalized when a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs and then beat him until he lost consciousness.
Musk was initially educated at private schools, attending the English-speaking Waterkloof House Preparatory School. Musk later graduated from Pretoria Boys High School and moved to Canada in June 1989, just before his 18th birthday, after obtaining Canadian citizenship through his Canadian-born mother.
Elon Musk’s first venture
In 1992, after spending two years at Queen’s University, in Kingston, Ontario, Musk moved to Pennsylvania, to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk and fellow Penn student Adeo Ressi rented a 10-bedroom fraternity house, using it as an unofficial nightclub. They later became roommates at a residence hall during their time at Wharton.
In 1995, at age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in applied physics at Stanford University, but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy and outer space.
Elon Musk: venture capitalist
In 1995, Musk and his brother, Kimbal, started Zip2, a web software company, with money raised from a small group of angel investors. The company developed and marketed an Internet “city guide” for the newspaper publishing industry. Musk obtained contracts with The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune and persuaded the board of directors to abandon plans for a merger with a company called CitySearch.
In March 1999, Compaq acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options. Musk received US$22 million for his 7 percent share from the sale.
In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2. One year later, the company merged with Confinity, which had a money transfer service called PayPal. The merged company focused on the PayPal service and was renamed PayPal in 2001. PayPal’s early growth was driven mainly by a viral marketing campaign where new customers were recruited when they received money through the service.
By October 2001, PayPal had signed up more than 1 million users, and by November 2002, the company reached US$1 billion in transactions. A February 1, 2002 cover story in Businessweek magazine included PayPal in the group of new “buzz” words that have been added to the English lexicon.
In March 2002, the company acquired the fraud detection company Confinity for US$300 million, netting Musk, by then the vice president of PayPal, US$55 million. In October 2002, PayPal became a public company via an initial public offering, raising US$350 million. The company was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in October 2002, which brought Musk’s share of the sale to US$165 million.
In July 2017, Musk bought $25 million worth of stock in Tesla, at US$420 per share. At that price, Musk’s holdings in Tesla were worth about US$10 billion (or US$13 billion as of September 2018).
Elon Musk: electric car pioneer
In July 2003, Musk conceptualized “the Hyperloop”, a theoretical subsonic air travel machine that would travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles in half an hour. He began conceptualizing the Hyperloop after discussing the idea with fellow Silicon Valley-based technology entrepreneur, Jim Cantrell, and later submitted an unsolicited proposal to Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, in which he referred to the concept as a “fifth mode” of transportation.
In the proposal, Musk stated that he had been inspired by a desire to build a practical electric vehicle that could overcome the limitations of mass transit. He had earlier noticed that the inherent efficiency of electric motors would enable such a vehicle to travel at high speeds with relatively little power.
In order to make the Hyperloop concept a reality, Musk sought to create a company that could work with the government agencies in charge of the infrastructure development of the United States. In a 2013 interview, he noted that he began to seriously consider the idea of creating a new company after a meeting with then-President of Mexico Felipe Calderón when he was exploring the possibility of a SpaceX project in Mexico using the country’s newly acquired spaceport in Baja California.
Musk proposed an initial test track in Texas and a route running from one coast of the United States to the other. A number of engineers were hired, including former SpaceX employees (and eventual founders of the tunnel boring startup The Boring Company) Steve Davis and Bruce Ratner. The company was registered in late July 2013 as “The Boring Company” and was officially launched in late October 2015.
In April 2014, Musk was criticized by the Canton City Council for not holding required community meetings by residents in Canton prior to the start of digging the initial test trench for the tunnel.
In mid-2016, the company began work on a tunnel in the parking lot of SpaceX’s headquarters, where it intends to eventually install a test track for Hyperloop pods. In January 2017, the company started an unpermitted demolition of a former factory in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Hawthorne, California where Musk plans to build a two-mile-long test track.
On December 20, 2017, the Boring Company received a verbal “okay” from the Hawthorne City Council, on the building of a tunnel connecting the SpaceX headquarters and the Los Angeles International Airport.
Elon Musk: Tesla Motors
In 2003, Musk conceptualized “the Tesla electric sports car” as a young man in an attempt to produce affordable, mass-market electric vehicles. The company’s name was taken from the physicist Nikola Tesla.
Musk began the Tesla Motors venture with Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, former coworkers and founders of the original Tesla Motors, and led the Series A round of investment funding. Musk also led the Series B, C, D, and E rounds of investment. Today Tesla Motors is a public company.
In 2008, Musk led Tesla Motors’ Series A round of investment, the company’s first round of venture capital financing, investing US$7.5 million in the company. Tesla Motors’ early stage investors also included the venture capital firms Founder’s Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The total investment of the Series A round was US$13 million.
In May 2009, Daimler AG announced that they were buying a stake in Tesla Motors. Daimler later acquired the remaining shares of Tesla Motors, giving them an almost 20% stake. In 2014, Musk exercised his $US50 million option to buy the company rather than waiting to receive the shares every six months.
Elon Musk: SpaceX
In 2001, Musk conceptualized “Mars Oasis”; a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith, in an attempt to regain public interest in space exploration. In October 2001, Musk travelled to Moscow with Jim Cantrell (an aerospace supplies fixer), and Adeo Ressi (his best friend from college), to buy refurbished ICBMs (Dnepr-1) that could send the envisioned payloads into space.
In March 2002, Musk travelled to Moscow again, hoping to buy a Dnepr rocket. Musk was forced to buy a used rocket for US$8 million. As a result, Musk founded his own rocket company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), and building a new rocket. In July 2002, a new agreement was made with Air Force Research Laboratory for a US$20 million contract to launch a military GPS satellite, followed by another contract in April 2004 for US$27.5 million to launch a surveillance satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office.
Elon Musk: failures
“Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
Elon Musk is an innovator who understands that failure is an integral part of the process. He knows that if things are not failing you are not innovating enough. He has built a company that fails on a weekly basis in order to move forward and has an entire department devoted to the failed ideas. The very goal of SpaceX is to “fail early and often.”
“When I was in college, I wanted to be involved in things that would change the world. Silly me.”