Biography of Elon Musk

Elon Musk Speaking at SpaceX Event

Elon Musk is a man of many talents. He is a skilled businessman, technology innovator, a high stakes investor, an engineer and a very gifted inventor. Even though he is one of the most successful billionaires in the world, he continues to push the boundaries of technology to help create a better world. As of 2017, Musk is estimated to be worth $13.9 billion, which would make him the 94 richest person in the world. He is considered one of the most powerful and influential individuals in the world. Instead of resting on his current and past successes, he is continuing to invent and reinvent the world and the way humans approach and utilize technology. He is focused on creating technology that helps to reduce global warming and to help reduce the risk of human extinction. Most CEO’s and inventors focus on making money but Musk wants to make the world a better place.

Elon Musk’s early life was filled with encouragement to pursue his passions. He was born in South Africa on June 28th, 1971. He was born in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa to Maye and Errol Musk. Maye was a model and dietician from Canada and Errol was a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot and a sailor. He is the oldest of three children and spent the first nine years of his life in South Africa. By the age of 10, Musk had started to develop an interest in computers. His first computer was a Commodore VIC-20. By the age of 12, he had taught himself computer programming and even sold the code for a video game he created called Blastar. He sold the game to a magazine called PC and Office Technology for only $500.

After Musk completed secondary school, he made the bold decision to immigrate to the United States. At least that was the original plan. In 1989, he immigrated to Canada and lived with relatives of his mother’s in Montreal. He worked at a few low paying jobs for about a year before he was accepted at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. He spent two years studying there but then was finally able to relocate to the United States. In 1992, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. There he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics. Later, he received his Bachelor of Science degree in economics from The Wharton School of Business. In 1995, Musk decided to then move to California to begin studying for a PhD in applied physics and material science at Stanford. In a surprise move, he quit after only two days because Musk was a visionary who recognized the amazing potential of the Internet. He decided to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions instead and his foresight proved to be spot-on.

His first business venture was a company he started with his brother Kimbal called Zip2 founded in Palo Alto with $28,000 of their father’s money. This web software company primary provided and licensed online city guide software to newspapers. When Zip2 first began in 1995, it was originally named Global Link Information Network and initially provided local businesses with an internet presence by linking their services to searchers and providing directions. After about a year, Global Link received $3million in investments from Mohr Davidow Ventures and the name was then changed to Zip2. The strategy of Zip2 was changed to then providing back end software packages to newspapers nationally to build their own directories. Zip2 grew exponentially from that point and struck deals with major publications like the New York Times, Knight Ridder and the Hearst Corporation. In April 1998, Zip2 attempted to merge with its then competitor, CitySearch. Although Musk initially supported the merger, he then persuaded the Board of Directors to scrap the merger due to irreconcilable differences in cultures and technology. In 1999, Compaq Computers bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in securities.

After the sale of Zip2, Musk turned his focus on creating a new company. In 1999, his astute entrepreneurial intuition led him start working on an electronic financial services and email payment company which was named The following year, merged with rival company Confinity. Confinity was founded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin and specialized in software that allowed Palm Pilot and PDA owners to store encrypted information on their devices. When the companies merged, was renamed PayPal and Musk became the chairman and CEO. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion and Musk received $180 million. Musk then left PayPal and the Internet all together and decided to focus on investing in sustainable solutions for both personal and mass transportation.

SpaceX has received quite a bit of press lately off their latest successful launch but little do people know that SpaceX has been around for almost two decades. It was created because Musk wants to someday colonize Mars. In 2001, Elon Musk saw the waning interest in the space exploration and came up with a publicity stunt to help drum up some excitement about space travel. His original idea was to send an experimental greenhouse to space to grow food from seeds. When looking for a rocket, Musk tried to buy one in the US and then traveled to Russia when he found out the price to purchase a rocket was astronomical. Russia was willing to sell him a rocket for cheaper but it still had a very high price tag. Frustrated, Musk came back empty handed with no rocket and no way to get his experiment to space. Musk then decided that if he couldn’t buy a rocket at a decent price, then he was going to make his own. SpaceX was founded with $100 million of his own money with the focus of creating cheaper, reusable rockets. The ultimate goal is to make interplanetary travel a reality in order to colonize Mars one day. Musk believes that SpaceX is very close to reaching their goal of sending a human to Mars and he believes that he can create a Mars colony by 2040. SpaceX continues to reinvent space travel and exploration and shows no sign of slowing down.

While SpaceX was gearing up, Musk decided to get involved with another company. A little known car company, Tesla, was making small waves in the electric car community in 2003. Tesla was co-founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpennin with the idea of creating an electric car that had mass appeal. A rocky start made it hard to get the company off the ground until Musk came in and invested a significant sum in the company. He then joined the board of directors as the chairman. The financial crisis of 2008 created issues within the company and Musk took over as CEO and product architect to help get the company back on track. Musk showed his true colors as an effective manager. He fired the individuals who were stalling product development and downsized where necessary to keep the company afloat. He was finally able to help Tesla get their Roadster model on the market and then began work on additional models to roll out in order to expand the company’s demographic. Electric cars overall have never been very popular and Musk wanted to change that. Additional large sum investments from other companies along with a successful IPO allowed Tesla to begin work on their Model S. Musk has the ultimate goal of creating an electric car with mass appeal that would help the world to become less dependent on oil. Since the unveiling of the Model S, Tesla’s popularity has skyrocketed along with their profits. Musk and Tesla are busy working on expanding their offerings and are hoping to put an SUV and a less expensive version of their electric car, the Model 3, on the market very soon.

Elon Musk has a passion for helping save the environment and his other company, SolarCity, is no exception. Two brothers, Peter and Lyndon Rive, founded SolarCity in 2003. These brothers also happen to be Elon Musk’s cousins. Musk came up with the original concept behind the company and he also helped to start the company. SolarCity is the leading provider of solar power systems for homes, businesses and governments. SolarCity has experienced very rapid growth in the last few years. The company has grown from 440 megawatts (MW) of solar panels installed in 2009 to 6,200 MW installed in 2014 and has also installed more solar energy systems than any other company in the United States. In August of 2016, Tesla announced in a joint statement with SolarCity it would be acquiring the company for $2.6 million. SolarCity operates in 20 jurisdictions in United States and employees about 15,000 people. SolarCity has a wide variety of services and products like solar leasing, commercial solar installations, electrical vehicle chargers, energy efficiency evaluations, energy storage and a solar roof.

Musk is only getting started. He is the modern day Edison and shows no sign of slowing down. His ambition is unmatched and he will continue to wow the world with his ideas, inventions, and new technology. Most people scoffed at Musk for his ideas early on in his career but over time he has proved that he can make those fantastical ideas a reality. Musk is admirable in the aspect that he is investing his own money in creating companies that will help to reduce our carbon footprint. He hopes to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by creating a reliable American-made electric car and by creating environmentally friendly energy solutions for homes and businesses. The world is waiting in anticipation to see what mind-blowing idea or invention he comes up with next.

Elon Musk is currently dating Amber Heard.

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