Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Musk in 2022
Born
Elon Reeve Musk

June 28, 1971 (age 52)

PretoriaTransvaal, South Africa
Citizenship
  • South Africa
  • Canada
  • United States
EducationUniversity of Pennsylvania (BABS)
Title
Spouses
Partners
Children11[a][4]
Parents
Relatives
FamilyMusk family
Signature

Elon Reeve Musk is a businessman and investor. He is the founder, chairman, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; angel investor, CEO, product architect, and former chairman of Tesla, Inc.; owner, executive chairman, and CTO of X Corp.; founder of the Boring Company and xAI; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the Musk Foundation. He is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$190 billion as of March 2024, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and $195 billion according to Forbes, primarily from his ownership stakes in Tesla and SpaceX.

A member of the wealthy South African Musk family, Elon was born in Pretoria and briefly attended the University of Pretoria before immigrating to Canada at age 18, acquiring citizenship through his Canadian-born mother. Two years later, he matriculated at Queen’s University at Kingston in Canada. Musk later transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, and received bachelor’s degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to attend Stanford University, but dropped out after two days and, with his brother Kimbal, co-founded online city guide software company Zip2. The startup was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999, and that same year Musk co-founded X.com, a direct bank. X.com merged with Confinity in 2000 to form PayPal

In October 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for a sum of $1.5 billion.

Around the same time, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, a spaceflight services company, utilizing $100 million of his earnings from the PayPal acquisition. In 2004, Musk became an early investor in Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, and later assumed the roles of chairman, product architect, and CEO. Additionally, in 2006, Musk played a pivotal role in the creation of SolarCity, a solar-energy company which was eventually acquired by Tesla in 2016 and rebranded as Tesla Energy.

In 2013, Musk proposed the concept of a hyperloop high-speed vactrain transportation system. Subsequently, in 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The following year, Musk co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces, and also launched the Boring Company, which specializes in tunnel construction.

In 2022, Musk made headlines by acquiring Twitter for a staggering $44 billion. He proceeded to merge the company into a newly created entity named X Corp., rebranding the service as X the subsequent year. Not long after, in March 2023, Musk founded xAI, an artificial intelligence company.

In October 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for a sum of $1.5 billion. Around the same time, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, a spaceflight services company, utilizing $100 million of his earnings from the PayPal acquisition. In 2004, Musk became an early investor in Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, and later assumed the roles of chairman, product architect, and CEO. Additionally, in 2006, Musk played a pivotal role in the creation of SolarCity, a solar-energy company which was eventually acquired by Tesla in 2016 and rebranded as Tesla Energy.

In 2013, Musk proposed the concept of a hyperloop high-speed vactrain transportation system. Subsequently, in 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research company. The following year, Musk co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces, and also launched the Boring Company, which specializes in tunnel construction.

In 2022, Musk made headlines by acquiring Twitter for a staggering $44 billion. He proceeded to merge the company into a newly created entity named X Corp., rebranding the service as X the subsequent year. Not long after, in March 2023, Musk founded xAI, an artificial intelligence company.

Despite his entrepreneurial success, Musk has been a polarizing figure due to his controversial statements and actions. He has faced criticism for spreading unscientific and misleading information, including COVID-19 misinformation and antisemitic conspiracy theories. His ownership of Twitter has also been contentious, marked by layoffs, an increase in hate speech and misinformation on the platform, as well as alterations to Twitter Blue verification.

In 2018, Musk was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for falsely claiming to have secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla. As part of the settlement, Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman and paid a fine of $20 million.

Early Life and Education:

Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, the administrative capital of South Africa. He comes from a mixed ancestry of British and Pennsylvania Dutch. His mother, Maye Musk (née Haldeman), is a model and dietitian from Canada, while his father, Errol Musk, is a South African electromechanical engineer with a diverse range of occupations. Elon has a younger brother named Kimbal and a younger sister named Tosca.

Growing up, Musk’s family was affluent, with his father being involved in various ventures including property development and emerald trading. Elon was particularly close to his maternal grandfather, Joshua N. Haldeman, who was known for his adventurous spirit.

After his parents’ divorce in 1980, Elon chose to primarily live with his father, although their relationship became strained over time. Musk was an avid reader from a young age, citing influential books such as “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” His interest in computing and video games began at age ten when he taught himself how to program using the VIC-20 user manual. By age twelve, Musk had developed and sold his first computer game, Blastar, to a magazine.

Despite his achievements, Musk’s personal life has been marked by challenges, including conflicts with family members and estrangement from his father. These experiences have shaped his complex persona and entrepreneurial journey.

Education

Musk’s educational journey began at Waterkloof House Preparatory School, followed by Bryanston High School, and ultimately Pretoria Boys High School, where he graduated. Though not an exceptional student, he completed his schooling with a 61 in Afrikaans and a B on his senior math certification.

In pursuit of easier immigration to the United States, Musk applied for a Canadian passport through his Canadian-born mother. While waiting for his application to process, he briefly attended the University of Pretoria for five months. He then moved to Canada in June 1989, where he connected with a second cousin in Saskatchewan and worked various odd jobs, including at a farm and a lumber mill.

In 1990, Musk enrolled at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, an Ivy League institution, where he earned dual degrees: a Bachelor of Arts in physics and a Bachelor of Science in economics from the university’s Wharton School. Although Musk has claimed to have earned these degrees in 1995, they were officially awarded by the University of Pennsylvania in 1997.

To fund his education, Musk reportedly organized large, ticketed house parties and even drafted a business plan for an electronic book-scanning service similar to Google Books.

During his academic journey, Musk also gained practical experience through internships in Silicon Valley. In 1994, he interned at energy storage startup Pinnacle Research Institute, focusing on electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage, and also at Palo Alto-based startup Rocket Science Games. The following year, he was accepted into a PhD program in materials science at Stanford University. However, Musk chose to seize opportunities in the emerging internet industry, dropping out just two days after being accepted to pursue a job at Netscape, although he never received a response to his application.

Elon Musk: Visionary Entrepreneur and Innovator

Zip2 Main article: Zip2

Main articles: X.com (bank), PayPal, and PayPal Mafia

In 1995, Elon Musk, alongside his brother Kimbal and Greg Kouri, co-founded Global Link Information Network, which was later rebranded as Zip2. The company’s initial financing of $200,000 came largely from a funding round, with a portion contributed by their father, Errol Musk. Zip2 focused on developing an Internet city guide featuring maps, directions, and yellow pages, targeting newspapers as their primary market.

Operating from a modest rented office in Palo Alto, Musk dedicated his evenings to coding the website. Zip2’s efforts eventually paid off when they secured contracts with prominent newspapers like The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Despite facing challenges, including resisting a merger with CitySearch, Musk’s ambition to assume the CEO role was thwarted.

In February 1999, Compaq acquired Zip2 for $307 million in cash, resulting in Musk receiving $22 million for his 7-percent share in the company.

In March 1999, Elon Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, investing $12 million of his earnings from the Compaq acquisition. X.com quickly gained traction as one of the earliest federally insured online banks, attracting over 200,000 customers within its initial months of operation.

Despite concerns from Musk’s friends about the name potentially being mistaken for a pornographic site, Musk remained confident in its straightforwardness, memorability, and ease of typing. He also appreciated the email configuration it offered, such as “e@x.com”.

However, despite being the founder, Musk’s perceived lack of experience led investors to replace him with Bill Harris, the CEO of Intuit, by the end of the year.

In 2000, X.com merged with Confinity, an online bank, to avoid competition, especially given the popularity of Confinity’s money-transfer service, PayPal. Musk returned as CEO following the merger. However, differences in software preference between Musk and the employees, favoring Microsoft over Unix-based software, caused discord within the company, leading to the resignation of Confinity co-founder Peter Thiel.

Due to technological challenges and a lack of a clear business model, Musk was ousted from his position by the board in September 2000, and Thiel took over as CEO. The company pivoted its focus towards the money-transfer service and was rebranded as PayPal in 2001.

In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Musk, as PayPal’s largest shareholder with 11.72% of shares, received $175.8 million from the acquisition. In 2017, Musk bought the X.com domain from PayPal for its sentimental value. In 2022, he discussed his goal of creating “X, the everything app”.

Space Exploration: SpaceX

Electric Vehicles: Tesla, Inc.

– Founding of SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.) in 2002.

– Musk’s vision for SpaceX and reducing the cost of space travel.

– Key milestones and achievements of SpaceX, including Falcon rockets, Dragon spacecraft, and Mars colonization plans.

– Founding of Tesla Motors (now Tesla, Inc.) in 2003.

– Introduction of the Tesla Roadster, Model S, Model X, and Model 3.

– Tesla’s impact on the automotive industry and renewable energy.

Renewable Energy and SolarCity

Neuralink: Merging Brain and AI

– Musk’s involvement in SolarCity, a solar energy services company.

– Acquisition of SolarCity by Tesla and integration of solar technology into Tesla’s products.

 

– Formation of Neuralink, a neurotechnology company aimed at developing brain-computer interface technology.

– Musk’s vision for merging human intelligence with artificial intelligence.

 

The Boring Company: Tunneling Solutions

Hyperloop Concept

– Creation of The Boring Company to address traffic congestion through tunneling technology.

– Projects undertaken by The Boring Company, including the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop.

– Musk’s proposal for the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system.

– Development of Hyperloop technology by various companies inspired by Musk’s concept.

Controversies and Challenges

Personal Life and Philanthropy

– Musk’s public controversies, including legal battles and conflicts with regulators.

– Criticisms of his management style and behavior on social media platforms.

– Musk’s personal relationships, marriages, and children.

– Overview of Musk’s philanthropic endeavors, including donations to various causes.

Conclusion

– Recap of Musk’s influence on various industries and his reputation as a visionary entrepreneur.

– Reflection on the challenges and controversies faced by Musk throughout his career.

– Consideration of Musk’s ongoing impact on technology, innovation, and society.