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A Primer On Elon Musk

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance


20.7K reads

Elon Musk: An Introduction

Elon Musk is the entrepreneur behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. Musk’s mission with each of these companies was to save humanity.

Elon has always dreamed big. Plus, he eventually achieved many dreams people claimed he never could. From throwing massive parties to pay his way t...

Driven by the Idea of Saving Humanity

Elon Musk’s motivations do not lie with money. He cares for humanity more than he cares about money.

  • These characteristics have allowed Elon to create two separate sustainable technology companies, Tesla Motors and SolarCity, that are each worth billions of dollars. Sustainabilit...

Paranoid-Like Focus

Elon Musk does not let worries consume him but instead uses them as motivation to get things done. However, this motivation can sometimes be overwhelming.

  • He has also become well known for setting unrealistic goals for his companies and unrealistic expectatio...

A Difficult Childhood

  • Growing up in South Africa, Elon had very few friends.
  • After his parents separated, Elon decided to live with his father. However, this decision led to a problematic young life for Elon. The Musk family has been unwilling to elaborate on how he behaved. Still, they are willing to d...

Saved By Books

  • To escape from his complicated relationship with his father and the turmoils of school, Elon retreated into reading and studying.
  • Elon had the remarkable ability to memorize information photographically. Hence, he was able to read two encyclopedias and remember everything.

Asking The Right Questions

This ethos of looking to ask the right questions led to Elon Musk considering how he could expand and improve human civilization from a young age.

For example, by high school, he already had strong opinions on solar power, moving to other planets, paperless banking, an...

The 80s: South Africa To Canada

  • In the 1980s, when Elon Musk was reaching college age, military service was mandatory in South Africa. However, Elon had no interest in the military. So, he decided to leave the country.
  • The US was his dream destination, but he instead opted for Canada as a starting point.

Musk’s First Start-Up

Elon created his first company in 1995, straight out of college. He and his brother founded the Global Link Information Network. This company would later be renamed Zip2.

  • The USP of this company was that they guided businesses that are struggling to understand ho...

The Compaq Takeover

  • Zip2 saw a considerable growth opportunity when, in February 1999, PC-maker Compaq Computer offered $307 million in cash for the company.
  • Elon did not even have to think about selling his share. He already had several other projects in mind, and this money would h...


  • After selling Zip2, Elon Musk had started to develop a strong reputation. Hence, he was able to partner with Barclays for his next business venture, X.com. At this time, people were still very wary of the internet. People were not even willing to buy books online, as they w...

Investigating Life on Mars

Elon Musk has always had a passion for space travel. Just before PayPal was sold, Elon moved from near Silicon Valley to Los Angeles. He was fed up with Silicon Valley and wanted a new adventure.

This adventure was space travel. He moved just around the corner from the...

Tesla Inspired an Electric Car Future

Before Tesla, electric cars were available but were not mainstream. Wealthy individuals would always opt for a Jaguar or Ferrari over buying an electric car. However, Tesla changed the game. They provided powerful and stylish electric cars. Elon Musk made electric cars co...

The Hyperloop

Elon Musk unveiled the Hyperloop in 2013. The Hyperloop is a large scale pneumatic tube. These are the same tubes used to send mail around offices. However, Elon has taken this idea and applied it on a grand scale. Large versions of these tubes will be used to transport people and their cars with...

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