Elon Musk, Would You Marry Me?

Known for his entrepreneurial ventures and his humour, Elon is always news.

He was ranked 20th on Time’s list of most influential people in technology in 2017, and 21st on the Forbes list of the most powerful people of 2016. In May 2017, he was awarded the Oslo Business for Peace Award, and in 2018, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Interestingly, he is not ranked in Forbes’ 40 richest people because he is not in it only for the money. Yes, he does own most of the stocks of his companies, but that is unclaimed money. Musk earned $49,920 in 2017: that’s what an 80-hour work week on California’s minimum wage gets you.

To understand Elon Musk's mentality?, we first need to understand how he was raised. An avid reader ever since he was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. Allegedly, he mastered the Encyclopedia Britannica by age nine, and taught himself computer programming before selling his first video game for $500 by age 12. By age 15, he had come to the realization that he wanted to save humanity, and by age 23, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics. Later, he would also earn a bachelor’s in physics.

After working shoveling dirt in a boiler room, completing an internship at a bank, selling computers out of his dorm room, renting a fraternity house to make it into a speakeasy, and completing two more internships in computer programming and video game development, Musk started his PhD at Stanford University. However, because of his entrepreneurial aspirations, Musk dropped out of the PhD after two days and together with his brother started Zip2.

At this point, he wasn’t famous yet, nor was he a billionaire. Consequently, he couldn’t afford both an apartment and an office. For this reason, Elon and his brother slept and worked at the same studio. They later sold Zip2 to Compaq for $341 million and founded X.com, which soon became PayPal against all odds.

In 2002, with $100 million of his early fortune, Musk founded SpaceX, a company that designs and builds rockets. But doesn’t NASA do that already? Yes and no. SpaceX’s purpose is to make space exploration cheaper and as environmentally friendly as possible. Let’s take a step back and recall that one of Musk’s purposes in life is to save humanity. NASA, on the other hand, is a government agency with the sole purpose of space exploration and aeronautics research. If you would like to further explore SpaceX and NASA’s relationship, I recommend reading this Quora thread.

Now I will introduce TESLA and some of Elon’s other ventures.

 

 

Tesla

Tesla is a company specializing in electric cars, energy storage, and solar panels. Its mission is to accelerate our transition towards a future with sustainable energy. Elon Musk joined the founders a year after it was created and soon after became CEO and chairman of the board at the company (he was replaced as chairman in November 2018, but is still CEO). Overall, he has injected $70 million of his own money into this promising electric venture—talk about believing in your product.

 

 

Tesla’s first car was the Roadster and then came the Model S. Then in 2008 came what Musk describes as “the worst year of [his] life” because of personal and financial reasons.

In late 2008, as the financial crisis gripped the global economy, Musk and Tesla were on the verge of bankruptcy. Fortunately, in 2010, Musk got a loan from the Department of Energy for $465 million, which was repaid in less than three years.

After this sudden recovery, in June 2010, Tesla launched its IPO for $17 per share (today, in February 2019, each share trades for an average of $312). In 2015 came Model X, then Model 3, which is the most affordable Tesla model to date, starting at USD 45,000.

 

SolarCity

In 2016, Tesla agreed to acquire SolarCity Corp.

SolarCity, whose goal is to offer a more affordable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuel–generated electricity, was founded by Elon’s cousins (are they all geniuses in this family?).

 

The Boring Company

By 2016, Elon Musk thought he did not have enough projects on his hands, so he founded The Boring Company to solve the problem of traffic. TBC is currently building a large network of tunnels, many levels deep, promising to fix congestion in Los Angeles. The technology they have been working on would potentially enable travel from New York to Washington, D.C. in less than 30 minutes.

As a joke, and as an impromptu fundraising scheme, TBC sold 20,000 flamethrowers for 500 USD a piece in four days to raise some extra money to build the tunnel. Why flamethrowers? Because, why not? With practically no marketing (besides some tweets), Elon Musk once again proved to be an entertaining entrepreneur.

 

 

Open AI

In 2015, with entrepreneur Sam Altman, Elon Musk founded yet another company called Open AI. Open AI, a non-profit organization, states its purpose is “discovering and enacting the path to safe artificial general intelligence.”

Their wikipedia page states that Open AI “aims to ‘freely collaborate’ with other institutions and researchers by making its patents and research open to the public.”

 

SpaceX

According to SpaceX’s website, the company “designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.”

As many of my readers might recall, Elon Musk became more of a sensation a year ago, after successfully launching a rocket to space carrying a Tesla Roadster driven by a mannequin called Starman.

Here you can find the complete story of the Falcon rockets.

Here you can find the complete story of Crew Dragon (also known as Dragon 2).

Here you can find Dragon resupply mission, which completed SpaceX’s 16th resupply mission to the International Space Station.

 

Open source

In January 2019, Elon released all of Tesla’s patents “in the spirit of the open source movement.”

The takeaway message is that, when the gods created Elon Musk, they added a cup of altruistic brilliance, a tablespoon of revolutionary/futuristic vision, and a pinch of FOMO—and we can all thank them for that.

 

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