Elon Musk, an eccentric billionaire, businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, engineer, and visionary is a man worthy of great admiration. Musk is the founder of what are today some of the most exciting technology companies in the world.
Born 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk is the son of a model and dietitian, and electromechanical engineer. By 12 years old, Musk used self-taught computer programming skills to design a video game he called “Blastar”, which he then sold to the magazine “PC and Office Technology” for $500.
Musk attended Queen’s University in Canada for two years before transferring to Penn State where he studied physics and economics. In true entrepreneurial spirit, he ran a successful unofficial nightclub out of a huge frat house. On some occasions, parties attracted upwards of 1,000 students.
After leaving Penn in 1995 Musk entered the Stanford Ph.D. program to study energy physics. Just two days later, he dropped out to pursue internet-based business ventures. In the same year, after partnering with his brother, Musk created a web software company, Zip2 which sold in 1999 for 307 million dollars.
With some of the money from his seven percent stake in Zip2, Musk cofounded X.com, a user-friendly online financial service known today as PayPal. When eBay acquired this company in 2002, Musk’s shares netted him 165 million dollars. Now with substantial capital in the bank, he formed two companies devoted to fighting global climate change: SolarCity and Tesla Motors.
SolarCity, a partner with Tesla Motors, provides state-of-the-art solar panels to produce clean energy and an affordable bill. Inspired by General Motors’ electric car, EV1, Tesla Motors began production in 2008 with a sleek, all-electric roadster. The company’s most recent vehicles include a much-improved roadster that boasts a 0-60 time of 1.9 seconds – faster than any production car – and semi truck that beats all others in safety and is capable of substantial fuel savings.
By supplying desirable, practical and affordable vehicles, Tesla’s purpose is to “accelerate the world’s transition into sustainable energy.”
From a young age, Musk has been concerned with improving the world. One author he read as a child, Isaac Asimov, helped foster such a sentiment.
“Asimov certainly was influential…The lesson I drew from that is 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 explained.
Another venture that demands attention is SpaceX, a company Musk founded in 2002 with 100 million dollars of his own capital. This organization holds records for the first private rocket to launch, orbit and land, first private spacecraft to visit the International Space Station and the first private company to launch an object into orbit around the sun.
In 2018, as a publicity stunt and challenge, Musk blasted a Tesla Roadster into the atmosphere with David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” playing on repeat.
“Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks. That seemed extremely boring. Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel,” Musk said when asked about the bizarre payload.
Future aspirations for SpaceX are to reduce the cost of travel by a rate of ten, create reliable and safe space transportation between countries and travel to Mars. Musk hopes to have two unmanned rockets visit the red planet by 2022 and by 2024 have four manned ships visit to establish a colony.
Musk believes that a third world war is inevitable and hopes Mars colonization could be a way to protect the human race from devastation in the event of nuclear war.
“We want to make sure there’s enough of a seed of civilization somewhere else to bring civilization back and perhaps shorten the length of the dark ages,” said Musk. “I think that’s why it’s important to get a self-sustaining base, ideally on Mars, because it’s more likely to survive than a moon base.”
When Musk isn’t launching sports cars into outer space or planning to colonize other planets, he is working on the HyperLoop, a high-speed mode of transportation that carries passengers in pods through a low-pressure tube. It is expected to far surpass the speed of bullet trains and aims to move riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than one hour – a six-and-a-half hour commute by car.
To accomplish such a feat, Musk created The Boring Company after tweeting, “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am [sic] going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” Along with the HyperLoop, The Boring Company also plans to form a series of underground highways for quick travel within cities.
In addition to leading the industry in the future of expeditious, affordable space travel, private space exploration, electric cars, solar panels and Mars colonization, Musk is not lacking in his philanthropic efforts. He has recently donated 15 million dollars to a Global Learning, a program that aims to empower children to take control of their learning and bring together innovative ideas for technological development.
During Puerto Rico’s power outage, Musk donated hundreds of high-capacity battery packs to hurricane victims. Furthermore, he has added himself to The Giving Pledge, a community of wealthy individuals who promise to donate most of their wealth to charities upon death rather than giving it to a family.
Like a real-life Tony Stark, Musk certainly lives up to his eccentric reputation of wild ambition and drive. His work has contributed many great goods and services to humanity, only time will reveal what other breathtaking enterprises he will accomplish. As a man who shows exemplary qualities like vision, discipline, intelligence and charity, Musk is nothing short of remarkable.
Photos courtesy of standard.co.uk.