Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Elon Musk—the 50 year old South African-born engineer, investor and business magnate currently living in Boca Chica, near SpaceX’s launch facility in South Texas. The richest person on the world, Musk is CEO and product architect at Tesla Inc and the lead designer and founder of Space X; and as of now the owner of Twitter. I did a little research and here is a little more on the extraordinary life of Elon Musk!
Ranked among the 25 most powerful people in the world by Forbes in 2016; and arguable the most powerful today, Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. Elon’s father Errol Musk was a South African electrotechnical engineer, pilot and sailor while his mother Maye was a model and dietician from Regina in Canada. Elon Musk was an avid reader in this childhood and at the age of ten, he developed an interest in computing.
At just at the age of 12, Musk learned computer programming by himself and sold the code of Blastar—a BASIC-based video game, to PC and Office Technology—a local magazine, for $500. Elon Musk suffered bullying throughout his childhood but this did not affect the confidence of Musk and he continued to pursue everything that he wanted to achieve.
At the age of 17, he got into Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for an undergraduate study but after spending two years there, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1997. In addition to the degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Elon Musk also completed a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Wharton School of Business.
In 1995, Musk enrolled into a PhD in applied physics and materials science program at Stanford University but left just two days later to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the internet, outer space and renewable technology.
The Successful Entrepreneurial Ventures of Elon Musk
After quitting the PHD program, Elon Musk along with his brother Kimbal launched an IT company by the name of Zip2. Working day and night, Elon Musk lived in the same warehouse where he used to work. This allowed him to save money and keep the company afloat during the initial difficult times. At that time, the Internet was going through a period of rapid growth and development but no one had made a fortune from it yet.
However, Musk and his company Zip2 was about to change that. Elon Musk created a platform where newspapers including leading publication such as the New York Time could offer additional commercial services to their customers. In 1999, AltaVista—the biggest search engine at the time, acquired Zip2 for $341 million, which included $307 million cash payment and $34 million securities. This set a record for selling a company for cash.
During the same time, electronic payment systems were starting to increase in popularity. Realizing this, Elon Musk launched his new business X.com. A year later, X.com merged with Confinity—a rival company run by Max Levchin and Peter Thiel. Confinity created the first digital wallet by allowing owners of PalmPilots and other PDAs to store encrypted information on their devices. After the merger, X.com was renamed PayPal, and Musk became its chairman and chief executive.
Over the next few years, Elon Musk remained involved in the development of new business models, including conducting a successful viral campaign to help increase the company’s customers. In 2002, PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion, with $180 million for his share. This was enough money for Elon Musk to pursue his other entrepreneurial aspirations which was developing the areas of alternative energy sources and space engineering.
Tesla Motors, Space X and More
Tesla Motors—the company chaired by Elon Musk and currently known as Tesla Inc, was founded in 2003 by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Even before Musk joined the ranks, the company positioned itself as the manufacture of electric vehicles that did not rely on oil to function. To show his support for such aspirations, Elon Musk made a personal contribution of $70 million. Soon, Musk became the company’s chairman but he did not take over Tesla’s operational management. However, he was involved in the designing of Tesla Roadster Sports car—the first electric car manufactured by Tesla. By 2006, the project starting to make the headlines and the design of the Roadster won the Global Green product design award in the same year.
The company continued to grow and soon boasted investors such as Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Google, with investments exceeding $100 million. In 2008, the first Tesla Roadsters were sold for $109,000. Today, Tesla Motors is worth billions, all due to the efforts of Elon Musk.
In addition to running matters for Tesla Motors, Elon Musk started SpaceX—an Aerospace manufacturer and space transport service company, in June 2002. Elon Musk wanted to build his own rockets and in May 2006, he unsuccessfully launched the company’s first ever rocket. Musk and SpaceX tried launching the rocket again in 2007 but failed once more. After a successful launch in September 2008, SpaceX managed to win a NASA contract for 12 flights worth $1.6 billion. In September 2011, Musk announced reusable rockets and in December 2015, SpaceX successfully sends reusable rocket into orbit for the very first time.
The Entrepreneurial ventures of Elon Musk are endless. In addition to the above, some other popular ventures of Musk include PowerWall, SolarCity and The Boring Company. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or are looking to make a career in the technology, outer space or energy sector, then Elon Musk’s life can be the perfect reference point for you to kick off things and keep the ball rolling! 🙂