Elon Reeve Musk, now 48 years old, known as “Elon Musk” is a visionary who dreams and has worked towards making the life on earth sustainable.
He is an engineer, technology entrepreneur, industrial designer, and philanthropist who has been awarded the Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018.
But before he acquired all these ventures and landed people on Mars, he had a lot of stories which many of us do not know.
Let us proceed to understand what it took to be one of the biggest tycoons who has changed the world.
Elon Musk: Childhood
Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, to Maye Musk and Errol Musk.
His mother was Canadian. She was a model and a dietitian, whereas; his father was South African and was an electromechanical engineer, pilot, and sailor.
He has two siblings: a brother named Kimbal Musk (1972) and a sister named Tosca Musk (1974).
After his parents divorced in 1980, he started living with his father, but he quickly regretted it and started living with his mother.
Now, he also has a half-sister and a brother.
Elon Musk: Early Life
Musk was an avid reader as a child. At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing and taught himself about computer learning through a manual.
At the age of 12, he created a BASIC-based video-game called ‘Blaster’ and sold it to P.C. and Office Technology Magazine for approximately $500.
Musk was sadly severely bullied as a kid.
He was once hospitalized after a group of boys pushed him down a flight of stairs.
Elon Musk: Education
He studied at Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School.
Elon completed his high schooling from Pretoria Boys High School.
After that, Elon wanted to move to the United States for his higher education since he believed America is where great things are.
His father wanted him to go to Pretoria College.
But, Elon went against him and instead obtained a Canadian passport through his Canadian mother and moved to Canada in June 1989.
Musk attended the University of Pretoria for five months while he was waiting for his Canadian documentation.
Then, he studied at Queen’s University from 1989 to 1992.
He moved to the USA to study economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Wharton.
He also pursued his Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the College of Arts and Science.
Musk was also accepted to a Ph.D. program in energy physics/material science at Stanford University in California. However, he opted to launch his first company, Zip2 Corporation.
Elon Musk: Internships
In 1994, Musk held internships in two of the companies at Silicon Valley: Pinnacle Research Institute and Palo Alto-based startup called Rocket Science Games.
Elon Musk: Career
The Beginning: Zip2
Elon and his brother, Kimbal, started their own web software company called ‘Zip2’ in 1995.
They developed an online city guide which provided newspaper publishing companies like The NewYork Times and Chicago Tribune with maps, directions, yellow pages, and vector graphics mapping system.
In 1992, Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options for which Elon Musk received $22 million for his 7 percent share.
X.com / Paypal
In 1999, Elon and Kimbal founded an online financial service and e-mail company called ‘X.com’ from the sale of Zip2.
A year later, the company merged with Confinity, which has a money-transfer service called PayPal.
In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock, of which Elon received $165 million.
Later, he purchased the domain ‘X.com’ from PayPal, considering that it has sentimental value. The amount wasn’t disclosed.
Elon Musk established his third venture called ‘Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX)’ in May 2002, after he realized that building a rocket was only 3 percent of the sales price of a rocket at that time.
He is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of the company and has invested $100 million of his early fortune.
Located in Hawthrone, California, SpaceX was founded with a long-term goal of traveling through space and reducing the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10 and sending humans to Mars’s surface.
NASA has awarded SpaceX with the contract to handle the cargo transport for the International Space Station.
SpaceX has developed and manufactured space launch vehicles with a focus on advancing the state of rocket technology. The company’s first launched vehicles were ‘Falcon 1’ and ‘Falcon 9‘ rockets. Its first spacecraft was the ‘Dragon.’
From 2011 onwards, SpaceX received funding from NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program to develop the DragonZ crew capsule.
Recently, on May 30, 2020, SpaceX launched its first flight called Demo-Z, becoming the first private company to put a person into orbit and eventually duck a human-crewed spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS).
Every automobile enthusiast is familiar with the brand name ‘Tesla.’ Elon Musk is the co-founder and product architect of Tesla, Inc (formerly Tesla Motors).
He is the longest-tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Tesla is famous for being a fully electric automobile company, which is considered to be better than a gasoline car.
It is also renowned for its sedan class smooth design.
Under his reign, Tesla Motors has produced many vehicles models like:
- Roadster– sports car
- Model S – first electric sedan
- Model 3
- Semi-truck – Tesla Semi
- Model Y and Roadster
Solar City was initially capitalized by Elon Musk and then co-founded by his cousin Lyndon and Peter Rive in 2006.
Solar City became the second largest solar power systems provider in the United States by 2013. The underlying motivation for funding both Solar City and Tesla was to help combat global warming.
Now, Solar City is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tesla.
The Boring Company
In 2017, Musk launched The Boring Company—a company that is devoted to boring building tunnels to reduce street traffic.
The company landed a $48.7 million contract from Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to build an underground loop system to shuttle people around the Las Vegas Convention Centre.
Elon Musk: Innovation
Hyperloop is a concept, presented by Musk, where very high-speed rail transportation will be used for passenger and freight transportation. The design was released by a joint team from Tesla and SpaceX.
On July 20, 2017, Musk announced that he received the government’s verbal approval to build a hyperloop from New York City to Washington, D.C, stopping in both Philadelphia and Baltimore.
OpenAI is a not-for-profit artificial intelligence (A.I.) research company that aims to develop artificial general intelligence in a way that is safe and beneficial to humanity.
In 2018, Musk left OpenAI to avoid possible future conflicts with his role as CEO of Tesla. Tesla also became involved with A.I. through Tesla Autopilot.
In 2017, Musk backed a venture called Neuralink. It intends to create devices that will consist of a microscopic chip connecting via Bluetooth to a Smartphone.
This tiny microchip will be implanted in the human brain which will merge with the software. The company aims to make these microchips to cure serious brain diseases in the short term.
The main goal of Neuralink is to enhance the mental and physical capabilities of a human being through artificial-technological means.
He invented Flamethrower at The Boring Company, and despite the warnings from the Home Office and the U.S. politicians, he sold 10,000 flamethrowers at $500 each.
Elon Musk: Music
Elon Musk released a rap track titled ‘RIP Harambe’ performed by Yung Jake and Cardine Polachele on SoundCloud under EmoG Records.
Elon Musk: Awards and Recognitions
Elon Musk has been awarded and recognized for his efforts in building a better and sustainable world for the future generation.
|2006||Global Green product design – for his design of Tesla Roadster.|
|2007||Inc Magazine: Entrepreneur of the Year|
Index Design Award – for the design of Tesla Roadster.
|2007/08||American Institution of Aeronautics and Astronautics George Law Award|
|2008/09||National Space Society: Von Braun Trophy|
|2010||Listed as one of the 100 people who affected the world in 2010.|
FAI Gold Space Medal, for designing the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit.
Living Legend of Aviation by Kitty Hawk Foundation.
|2011||Listed as Forbes: America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under|
Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization
|2012||Royal Aeronautical Society: Gold Medal|
|2013||Fortune: Business Person of the Year – for SpaceX, SolarCity and Tesla|
|2014||President’s Award for Exploration and Technology of the Explorer’s Club|
|2015||IEEE Honorary Membership|
|2016||Business Insider: Top 10 Business Visionaries creating value for the world|
21st on Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people
|2017||Oslo Business for Peace Award|
|2018||Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) award|
|2019||Awarded as the fifth class of the ‘Most Admirable Order of Dierkgunabhom’ for his contribution at Tham Luang Cave, Chiang Rai Province, Thailand|
|2019||Starmus Festival’s Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication|
CO-first Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019
Elon Musk: Net worth
Elon Musk has a net worth of 43.2 billion USD.
These are not just from his ownership from Tesla Motors, SpaceX, or his previous ventures like X.com.
He owns a house in California worth $17 million. He also has five properties for sale which are of total $137 million which are located in Los Angeles. Two of these properties are in the prestigious celebrity neighbor of Los Angeles called Bel Air.
For an owner of an automobile company, he has a big collection of vintage and modern vehicles like:
- BMW 320i : $1,400
- Ford Model T : gifted
- Lotus ESprit (from the James Bond movie: The Spy who love loved me):$997,000
- Jaguar Series 1E – Type Roadster: $100,000 – $225,000
- Hammam BMW M5: $203,325
- Porsche 911 Turbo : $203,500
- Audi Q7 : $54,800
- Tesla Model Y: $52,990
- Tesla Roadster: $250,000
- Tesla Model X: $84,990
- Tesla Model 3: $35,000
- Tesla Model S (Long Range): $85,000
- Cybertruck: $69,900
He also owns a private jet called, Gulfstream G650ER, which cost him $70 million.
Elon Musk: Relationships, wives, and girlfriends
Elon Musk was first married in 2000 to Justine Wilson, who is a Canadian author.
They share five sons through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Twins named Griffin and Xavier born in 2004 and triplets named Kaii, Saxon, and Damian born in 2006.
Before the IVF babies, they had a son, Nevada Alexander Musk, who died at the age of 10 weeks due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Elon and Justine separated in 2008 and now share the custody of all five sons.
After Wilson, Musk married English actress Talulah Riley in 2010.
Elon and Talulah’s marriage can be considered as dramatic. Why you may ask– because soon after two years of marriage, they got divorced in 2012.
They remarried again in July 2013 and ended up divorcing in late 2016.
Musk also dated an American actress, Amber Heard. But they split in 2016 due to their busy schedules.
Currently, Musk is dating Canadian musicians, Grimes (born name, Claire Elise Boucher).
They have dated for two years and have a son named ‘X Æ A-XII’ (pronounced ‘Ex Ash A Twelve), born on May 4, 2020.
Elon Musk: Controversy
For a famous entrepreneur like Elon Musk, people like him are like an open book that everyone reads and judges whether they understand or not.
So here are some of the controversies that Elon Musk has been a part of:
Anti -Public Transportation Controversy
In December 2017, at a Tesla event on the Conference of Neural Information Processing Systems, Musk stated his hatred against public transport and affirmed that people like individualized transport, which goes where you want and when you want.
He also dismissed an audience member who said that public transportation in Japan functioned effectively.
Following this, he faced heavy criticisms from public and transit experts.
He faced backlashes from Urban Planning Expert Brent Tudenan, Urbanist and Journalist specializing in planning and transportation, Yonah Freemark, and Jarret Walker, who is a known public transport expert and consultant from Portland.
Musk also faced criticism from Nobel laureate Paul Krugman.
Joe Rogan podcast appearance and cannabis scandal
Musk appeared in The Joe Rogan Experience podcast on September 6, 2018. In the two hours of podcast, he sampled a single puff from a cigar consisting of tobacco laced with cannabis.
Musk said he doesn’t smoke weed and that it is not suitable for his productivity.
It still became a story about Musk’s instability. Right after that incident, Tesla stock dropped. It led to too many speculations about whether he could be unwelcome for the SpaceX contracts with the United States Air Force.
Musk addressed this incident in an interview with 60 Minutes by saying, “I do not smoke pot. As anybody who watched this podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot”.
Taking Tesla Private Controversy
On August 7, 2018, Musk tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420”. After his announcement, the SEC (U.S Security and Exchange Commission) began enquiring about whether Musk has indeed secured the funding as claimed.
Several investors of Tesla filed lawsuits stating that Musk was trying to manipulate stock prices.
Musk called his moved to go private “the best path forward” and promised to create a special fund to help all current investors to remain on board.
After six days, he tweeted that he was working on a proposal to take Tesla private with Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake as financial advisors.
On the same day, Azealia Banks took to Instagram and wrote that Musk was under the influence of LSD when he tweeted his statements.
Since Banks was a guest at Musk’s home at that time, she overheard Musk making phone calls to originate the funding which he promised was already in place.
After this, Tesla outside directors retained two law firms to deal with the SEC inquiry and the CEO’s intention to take the company private.
On August 24, after the day of meeting with the board, Musk announced that he would not be taking Tesla private since most of the directors preferred to keep it public.
On September 29, 2018, it was announced that Musk had to pay $20 million fine and withdraw himself as chairman of Tesla for three years as part of an agreement with the SEC.
Musk received criticism over his views and actions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that “the Coronavirus is dumb.”
He has additionally been criticized for his controversial tweets to the disease.
Elon Musk: Charity
Elon Musk may have a controversial life, but what we must not forget is that this billionaire has worked for the betterment of the world a lot.
He is the chairman of the Musk Foundation, which provides solar-systems in disaster areas as well as has other goals. He is a well-known philanthropist who has been awarded for his contributions such as:
- In 2010, the Musk foundation collaborated with Solar City and donated a 25kW solar power system to the South Bay Community Alliance’s hurricane response center in Coden, Alabama.
- In 2011, Musk Foundation donated $250,000 to a solar power project in Soma, Japan, when a tsunami destroyed the city.
- In July 2014, Musk donated $1 million for the construction of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe. He also pledged to build a Tesla Supercharger in the museum car park.
- In 2015, he donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute to run a global research program for keeping artificial intelligence beneficial to humanity.
- He is also a trustee of the X Prize Foundation, which hosts public competition intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity.
- He is also a signatory of The Giving Pledge.
- In October 2018, Musk donated over $480,000 to help solve the ‘Flint Water Crisis.‘ This project has provided free and safe drinking water from the filtration system to approximately 30,000 children in all 12 schools of the area.
- Musk is also a top donor for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
- In October 2019, he donated $1 million to #TeamTrees, which had a goal to plant 20 million trees. The YouTube community-led this project in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation.
Elon Musk: Social Media
Elon Musk is active on Twitter as @elonmusk where he has over 35.9 million followers.
He doesn’t use any other social media accounts.
Elon Musk: Quick Facts
|Full name||Elon Reeve Musk|
|Birthdate||June 28, 1971|
|Birthplace||Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa|
|Nationality||South African(originally), Canadian, America|
|Spouse||Justine Wilson (2000-2008)|
Talulah Riley (2010-2012, 2013-2016)
|Current partner||Grimes (Claire Elise Boucher)|
|Children||From Justine Wilson: Griffin, Xavier, Kai, Saxon, Damian.|
Deceased: Nevada Alexander Musk
From Grimes: ‘X Æ A-XII
|Education||Bachelors of Science degree in Physics – College of Arts and Sciences|
Bachelors of Arts degree in economics – Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
Queen’s University (1989-1992)
University of Pretoria
High school degree – Pretoria Boys High School
Bryanston High School
Waterkloof House Preparatory High School
|Occupation||Engineer, Industrial Engineer, Entrepreneur|
|Net worth||$41.5 Billion|
|Hometown||Hillsborough, California, United States|
|Titles||Founder, CEO, Lead Designer – SpaceX|
CEO, Product Architect – Tesla, Inc
Founder – The Boring Company, X.com (now PayPal)
Co-founder – Neuralink, OpenAI, Zip2
Chairman – SolarCity
|Favorite cereal||Cinnamon Toast Crunch|
|Favorite movies||Parasite (as of 2019)|