Elon Musk started with nothing, and now he’s the richest person in the world. This is his story.
Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, engineer, and inventor. He is currently Chairman CEO and Product Architect of SpaceX; co-founder, CEO and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-founder and CEO of Neuralink; co-founder and chairman of SolarCity; co-chairman of OpenAI; founder of The Boring Company. He is also a co-founder and former chairman (2001–2008) of PayPal, as well as one of its principal owners.
From Notepad to PayPal
How Elon Musk Found Success on His Own Terms Entrepreneur: Silicon Valley Business and Technology News, Funding and Advice: Elon Musk was a computer prodigy who sold his first startup to Microsoft for $240 million before he turned 30. But it took some years—and a lot of hard work—to get there. In 1999, when he was nearly 40 years old, Musk finally hit it big with his third company, PayPal. PayPal offered an e-mail money transfer service that people could use to send money online without using checks or cash. When eBay acquired PayPal in 2002, Musk received $165 million. He had already become the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, according to media reports at the time. Today Musk is best known as CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, two companies aiming to revolutionize automobile manufacturing and space travel. Tech pioneers like Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are calling him a modern-day Henry Ford. Maybe more important than all these accomplishments is what Musk has done offstage to nurture young entrepreneurs through nonprofit organizations such as Tesla Science Foundation and SpaceX Foundation.
Creating Tesla Motors
After leaving his job at Tesla, Elon Musk had to raise $7.5 million to fund his new endeavour. When he pitched his business plan, people told him that creating an all-electric car company would be a foolish move and would never succeed. But Elon didn’t let that stop him from creating one of today’s most successful companies, Tesla Motors Inc., which is now worth billions. Along with its success came challenges, including bankruptcy in 2010. After filing for Chapter 11 protection in June of that year, Tesla began selling stock to raise money to pay off its creditors and continue operating—and succeeded. Three years later, Tesla went public on NASDAQ. Today, it has become legendary and was named Forbes America’s Most Promising Company as well as being ranked #38 on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. Let your dreams take flight! You can do whatever you set your mind to! Do what inspires you! Pursue it relentlessly until it comes true!
Space X – Taking Humanity to Mars
This might sound a bit crazy but hear me out. If there is one thing humans are good at, it’s building tools that make other tools better. Why do we build more powerful computers? To create better AI so we can build more powerful computers! And, that is exactly what Musk and his companies are doing. Neuralink (founded 2016) will be in charge of making brain-computer interfaces capable of uploading and downloading thoughts and feelings. OpenAI (founded 2015) will be in charge of training said neural networks to become aware, self-learning and hopefully, non-evil. SpaceX (founded 2002) will ultimately deliver all of these things as they take humanity to Mars. By colonizing another planet with Earth’s finest minds, humanity will have a failsafe if our homeworld ever turns hostile or uninhabitable. In addition, once our population is split between two planets, we can start expanding into even more new frontiers – let your imagination run wild! Regardless of whether you believe Musk and his intentions or not, there is no denying he wants us all to be multi-planetary as soon as possible and sees himself as humanity’s saviour from destruction.
Musk wasn’t so keen on was fixing traffic problems. Traffic is terrible, he said at a 2013 talk hosted by Y Combinator. He added that traffic was worse than in LA … It’s actually become unbearable to commute in [to San Francisco]. The direct route from Oakland to San Francisco is horrible. There’s like five or six hours of stop-and-go traffic every day. You don’t want to live here if you have an alternative because it’s too painful… So why don’t we have a hyperloop?
AI (Artificial Intelligence) – Neuralink & OpenAI
These are two separate companies and initiatives by Elon, but they’re designed to fulfil similar goals. Neuralink is a company founded in 2016 which aims to integrate AI into our brains via brain-computer interfaces, allowing us to merge with machines and be much more powerful. OpenAI was also founded in 2016 and is a research non-profit that focuses on the safe development of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to their website, OpenAI’s mission is to build safe artificial intelligence, and ensure AI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible. These two companies are both interesting because they involve pretty hefty challenges like neuroscience and building AI which has never been done before. Both companies could eventually achieve widespread success, especially if there’s a breakthrough somewhere along the way. In terms of AI in general though I don’t know whether it will succeed or not so it really comes down to how reliable these startups can make them. They’re definitely thinking about issues we haven’t thought about yet and making progress too so that’s good news for sure.
What Makes Elon Musk Such a Successful Leader?
Here’s What We Can Learn from Him: Back in 2001 when eBay was still a relatively new company, Elon Musk applied for a job there. He didn’t get it. As Peter Thiel recounts in his recent book on entrepreneurship, Zero to One, Musk was intimidated by founders and executives at PayPal who had impressive backgrounds from prestigious schools like Stanford and Yale. That experience helped inspire him to start SpaceX, where he wanted everyone to be naturally selected, as opposed to hand-picked by him. In other words, if you can do the job at SpaceX—no matter what your background is—you’re welcome. Musk has also remained an avid learner throughout his career; he’s constantly reading science journals and history books to broaden his knowledge. At Tesla, they say that one of their values is to learn fast since they try out so many experiments that won’t always work out how they’d hoped. A few years ago, Musk even made headlines for taking part in Burning Man (something not normally seen among tech CEOs), proving that he’s got an independent streak that sets him apart from other leaders in Silicon Valley.
No matter what your level of success is, you have to put in the work and have tenacity. But in some cases, it helps to be a bit lucky too. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals with every bit as much skill and potential as Mr Musk who never make it big simply because they didn’t get that extra nudge from fortune. For Mr Musk though his next-door neighbour happened to be none other than Bill Gates – so perhaps he should thank his lucky stars for that one…!
However, what’s clear is there are only two kinds of people on Earth: Those who want to go into space, and those who don’t. And we think if you’re reading Aeon Magazine, then chances are pretty good that you’re one of them (or at least interested in space travel). This year marks 50 years since Nasa landed humans on the Moon—something thought impossible just 20 years earlier by experts—and little more than 10 years ago Curiosity touched down on Mars itself; spacecraft continue to explore new worlds under our very noses, giving rise to myriad possibilities for future exploration. But most importantly: That crazy dreamer Elon Musk came up with two successful companies which made him really rich (and kinda famous) and finally will bring us all up into outer space! Who knows where life goes from here? Who knows how far we’ll go? Wherever it takes us: We can’t wait to find out.