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

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Elon Musk: An Introduction

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 through his education at the University of Pennsylvania, to plans to create one of the first online banks. Elon has always been an innovator.

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Driven by the Idea of Saving Humanity

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. Sustainability is a highly competitive industry, and without Elon’s internal drive, he probably would have failed.
  • He also has more elaborate plans for saving humanity. He states that his main goal in life is to save the human race. He wants to provide people with the opportunity to relocate to Mars before Earth is destroyed by climate change and asteroids.

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Paranoid-Like Focus

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 expectations of his employees. Subsequently, several previous employees have provided examples of the unbearable workloads and his verbal abuse.
  • Despite this, he is still respected by his employees. His clear sense of mission helps motivate them to follow his lead. They see he is successful in almost all his pursuits. He also demands unrealistic expectations of himself.

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A Difficult Childhood

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 describe him as an unpleasant man to be around.
  • As well to a difficult life at home, Elon was also bullied by his classmates because he was more intelligent than most of them. On some occasions, Elon would receive such a severe beating from the bullies that he couldn’t attend school for a week.

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Saved By Books

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.
  • However, out of all books, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was the one that had the most significant impact on him. Specifically, the book taught him that answering a question is easy, but asking the right question is much more challenging.

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Asking The Right Questions

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, and space rockets. On top of this, during this time, Elon started to learn more about entrepreneurship. He created his own video game, Blastar, which he sold for $500 when he was just 12 years old.

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The 80s: South Africa To Canada

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.
  • Elon’s first year in Canada did not go exactly to plan. He struggled for money, as he drifted between odd jobs, and he struggled to find a real home. Instead, he was moving from relative to relative for short periods at a time.

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Musk’s First Start-Up

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 how to set up and use the internet. Although this idea would eventually make Elon and his brother millions of dollars, they were not immediately successful. As the internet was a completely new concept, several businesses did not yet understand the value of putting their business online.
  • Elon and his brother struggled to gain traction with their new startup until a venture capital firm was impressed by Elon’s energy and drive. Mohr Davidow Ventures decided to invest in the start-up after meeting Elon. They hired Rich Sorkin as CEO of the company, moving Elon further down the business.

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The Compaq Takeover

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 help make those dreams a reality. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Elon wanted to become a CEO who was heavily involved in the company’s decision making.

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X.COM

X.COM

  • 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 worried about using their bank details on the internet.
  • However, Elon opened one of the first online banks, X.com, and managed to increase people’s confidence in online banking through his innovative approach.
  • X.com’s executives asked the company board if they could demote Musk as CEO. The executives succeeded, and Musk became an advisor.
  • In July 2002, the company was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. From this, Musk received $250 million.

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Investigating Life on Mars

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 US space industry hub, where they were considering the possibility of putting life on Mars. To investigate this possibility, the Mars Society was sending mice into orbit. Although Elon was interested in this idea, he believed they could go one step further. He preferred the idea of just sending the mice straight to Mars.

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Tesla Inspired an Electric Car Future

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 cool.

Tesla had slow growth at first but has now become one of the world’s most successful companies. Tesla’s Model S is the most influential of Tesla’s cars, with its release in 2012 changing the way we interact with cars.

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The Hyperloop

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 within pods.

The innovative approach that Hyperloop adopts allows the pods to travel as fast as 800 miles per hour. If adopted on a large scale, people will travel from LA to San Francisco in just 30 minutes.

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CURATED BY

ralcal

Commercial art gallery manager

A Primer On Elon Musk

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