Elon Musk Biography
Elon Reeve Musk FRS (born June 28, 1971) is an engineer, industrial designer, technology entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is a citizen of South Africa, Canada, and the United States. He is based in the United States, where he immigrated to at age 20 and has resided since. He is the founder, CEO, and chief engineer/designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018. In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. As of July 2020, his net worth was estimated at $46.3 billion and he is listed by Forbes as the 31st-richest person in the world. He is the longest-tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Elon Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen’s University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences. He moved to California in 1995 to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University, but decided to pursue a business career instead of enrolling. He co-founded (with his brother Kimbal) Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $340 million in 1999. Elon Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer, and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, became its product architect, and became its CEO in October 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla). In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain-computer interfaces. In December 2016, Elon Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company focused on tunnels optimized for electric vehicles.
In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop. Musk has said the goals of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity revolve around his vision to “change the world and help humanity”. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption and lessening the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars
Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, the son of Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian born in Saskatchewan, Canada and raised in South Africa, and Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, and sailor. He has a younger brother, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974).
His maternal grandfather, Dr. Joshua Haldeman, was an American-born Canadian. His paternal grandmother was British, and he also has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in the suburbs of Pretoria, a choice he made two years after his parents separated but which he subsequently regretted. Musk is estranged from his father, whom he has referred to as “a terrible human being.” He also has a half-sister and a half-brother.
During his childhood, Musk was an avid reader. At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing while using the Commodore VIC-20. He learned computer programming using a manual and, by the age of 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500. His childhood reading included Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, from which he drew the lesson that “you should try to take the set of actions that are likely to prolong civilization, minimize the probability of a dark age and reduce the length of a dark age if there is one”.
Musk was severely bullied throughout his childhood and was once hospitalized after a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs. He attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School.
Although Musk’s father insisted that Elon go to college in Pretoria, Musk became determined to move to the United States, saying “I remember thinking and seeing that America is where great things are possible, more than any other country in the world.” Musk knew it would be easier to get to the United States from Canada and moved there against his father’s wishes in June 1989, just before his 18th birthday, after obtaining a Canadian passport through his Canadian-born mother.
While awaiting Canadian documentation, Musk attended the University of Pretoria for five months. Once in Canada, Elon Musk entered Queen’s University in 1989, avoiding mandatory service in the South African military. He left in 1992 to study economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania; he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Wharton and a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the College of Arts and Sciences.
In 1994, Elon Musk held two internships in Silicon Valley during the summer: at an energy storage start-up called Pinnacle Research Institute, which researched electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage, and at the Palo Alto-based start-up Rocket Science Games. Bruce Leak, the former lead engineer behind Apple’s QuickTime who had hired Musk, noted: “He had boundless energy. Kids these days have no idea about hardware or how stuff works, but he had a PC hacker background and was not afraid to just go figure things out.”
In 1995, Musk was accepted to a Ph.D. program in energy physics/materials science at Stanford University in California. Eager to pursue opportunities in the Internet boom, however, he decided to instead launch his first company, Zip2 Corporation.
The career of Elon Musk:
In 1995, Elon 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, with maps, directions, and yellow pages, with the vector graphics mapping and direction code being implemented by Musk in Java. 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 CitySearch. Musk’s attempts to become CEO were thwarted by the board. Compaq acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash in February 1999. Musk received US$22 million for his 7 percent share from the sale.
X.com and PayPal
In March 1999, Elon Musk co-founded X.com, 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. Musk was ousted in October 2000 from his role as CEO (although he remained on the board) due to disagreements with other company executives over his desire to move PayPal’s Unix-based infrastructure to a Microsoft one. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk received US$165 million. Before its sale, Elon Musk, who was the company’s largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares.
In July 2017, Musk purchased the domain X.com from PayPal for an undisclosed amount, stating that it has sentimental value to him.
Elon Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station—with plans for astronaut transport in the future—in a move to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.
In August 2016, in Elon Musk’s continuing effort to promote and advance sustainable energy and products for a wider consumer base, a $2.6 billion dollar deal was solidified to combine his electric car and solar energy companies. His Tesla Motors Inc. announced an all-stock deal purchase of SolarCity Corp., a company Musk had helped his cousins start in 2006. He is a majority shareholder in each entity.
“Solar and storage are at their best when they’re combined. As one company, Tesla (storage) and SolarCity (solar) can create fully integrated residential, commercial and grid-scale products that improve the way that energy is generated, stored, and consumed,” read a statement on Tesla’s website about the deal.
The Boring Company:
In January 2017, Elon Musk launched The Boring Company, a company devoted to boring and building tunnels in order to reduce street traffic. He began with a test dig on the SpaceX property in Los Angeles.
In late October of that year, Elon Musk posted the first photo of his company’s progress to his Instagram page. He said the 500-foot tunnel, which would generally run parallel to Interstate 405, would reach a length of two miles in approximately four months.
In May 2019 the company, now known as TBC, landed a $48.7 million contract from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to build an underground Loop system to shuttle people around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Elon Musk is the co-founder, CEO, and product architect at Tesla Motors, a company formed in 2003 that is dedicated to producing affordable, mass-market electric cars as well as battery products and solar roofs. Elon Musk oversees all product development, engineering, and design of the company’s products.
Five years after its formation, in March 2008, Tesla unveiled the Roadster, a sports car capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, as well as traveling nearly 250 miles between charges of its lithium-ion battery.
With a stake in the company taken by Daimler and a strategic partnership with Toyota, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering in June 2010, raising $226 million.
In August 2008, Tesla announced plans for its Model S, the company’s first electric sedan that was reportedly meant to take on the BMW 5 series. In 2012, the Model S finally entered production at a starting price of $58,570. Capable of covering 265 miles between charges, it was honored as the 2013 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine.
In April 2017, Tesla announced that it surpassed General Motors to become the most valuable U.S. carmaker. The news was an obvious boon to Tesla, which was looking to ramp up production and release its Model 3 sedan later that year.
In September 2019, using what Elon Musk described as a “Plaid powertrain,” a Model S set a speed record for a four-door sedan at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey County, California.
The Model 3 was officially launched in March 2019 following extensive production delays. The car was initially priced at $35,000, a much more accessible price point than the $69,500 and up for its Model S and X electric sedans.
After initially aiming to produce 5,000 new Model 3 cars per week by December 2017, Musk pushed that goal back to March 2018, and then to June with the start of the new year. The announced delay didn’t surprise industry experts, who were well aware of the company’s production problems, though some questioned how long investors would remain patient with the process. It also didn’t prevent Elon Musk from garnering a radical new compensation package as CEO, in which he would be paid after reaching milestones of growing valuation based on $50 billion increments.
By April 2018, with Tesla expected to fall short of first-quarter production forecasts, news surfaced that Elon Musk had pushed aside the head of engineering to personally oversee efforts in that division. In a Twitter exchange with a reporter, Elon Musk said it was important to “divide and conquer” to meet production goals and was “back to sleeping at factory.”
After signaling that the company would reorganize its management structure, Musk in June announced that Tesla was laying off 9 percent of its workforce, though its production department would remain intact. In an email to employees, Elon Musk explained his decision to eliminate some “duplication of roles” to cut costs, admitting it was time to take serious steps toward turning a profit.
The restructuring appeared to pay dividends, as it was announced that Tesla had met its goal of producing 5,000 Model 3 cars per week by the end of June 2018, while churning out another 2,000 Model S sedans and Model X SUVs. “We did it!” Elon Musk wrote in a celebratory email to the company. “What an incredible job by an amazing team.”
He is becoming one of the most popular entrepreneurs these days and predicted to be one of the richest men in the world.