Elon Musk short facts of his biography.
The co-founder of Telsa Motors and PayPal, Elon Musk, is a successful business magnate. Presently he is the CEO and Chief designer of Space X, Telsa Motors and the Chairman of SolarCity.
Elon Musk was born on 28th June, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. He got his first computer at the age of 10 and after just two years had sold commercial software that he had created, for 500 dollars. He enrolled in Queen’s University in Canada but left to pursue business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He had always wanted to go to the United States as he believed ‘it was where great things are possible’, and indeed he achieved the greatness he was looking for. He later attended Stanford University for only two days after which he left to initiate ‘Zip2’. They sold this company to Compaq for 307 million dollars in cash and 34 million as stock options.
In March 1999, he co-founded X.com which was an online payment and financial facility. In 2000, the company formed a merger with Confinity that was also a similar website. In 2001, X.com was officially re-named ‘PayPal Inc.’ Musk started a marketing campaign that led to its successful growth. Next year eBay acquired the company for 1.5 billion dollars in stock. He was PayPal’s biggest shareholder with 11.7 percent shares until its sale. Musk’s third venture was the creation of SpaceX or ‘Space Exploration Technologies’ in 2002. SpaceX is responsible for the development and manufacturing of space launch vehicles. It primarily focuses on the advancement of the rocket technology. ‘Falcon 1’ and ‘Falcon 9’ are the first launch vehicles made by SpaceX. Its first spacecraft is called ‘Dragon’. Musk is also the CEO of Telsa Motors, a car company that designs and manufactures affordable electric cars for the mainstream consumers. The first vehicle made by the company is an electric sedan and Model X which is a SUV. He also spearheads SolarCity, the main objective of which is to fight global warming and air pollution.
Elon Musk became a multi-millionaire when he was in his twenties. His dedication and excellent entrepreneurial skills turned him into a billionaire by the time he was thirty. According to Time magazine he is one of the 100 people who have affected the world. In 2010, he was presented with the most prestigious award in air & space, the ‘FAI Gold Space Medal’ by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. In 2011, he was awarded with $500,000 as Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization. The same year he was ranked in ‘America’s 20 Most Powerful CEO’s 40 and Under’ by Forbes. He is recognized as a ‘Living Legend in Aviation’ and was given the ‘George Low’ award by American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Musk is also the founder of ‘Musk Foundation’ which is known for its philanthropic work related to science education, clean energy and pediatric health. Musk has signed ‘The Giving Pledge’ which means that he will donate most of his wealth to charitable works. His current net worth is $2.4 billion.
The biggest takeaway from technology journalist Ashlee Vance’s new biography, Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, is clear: The South African-born self-made billionaire’s ambition will stop at nothing. But what really makes this tale of drive so interesting is Musk’s track record to date. He’s the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors TSLA -1.3% , SpaceX, and SolarCity SCTY 0.62% . Vance’s take on Musk gives readers an unbiased glimpse into the entrepreneur’s undeniable success in some of the world’s toughest industries for start-ups.
While Musk made his first fortune from an early start-up called Zip2, it was at PayPal that the entrepreneur first showed his ability to challenge a complex industry already set in its ways.
Musk’s central role as co-founder of PayPal shouldn’t be overlooked. In retrospect, the PayPal history is evidence of Musk’s unquestionable genius at rallying talented individuals around a big goal and making things happen.
PayPal also came to represent one of the greatest assemblages of business and engineering talent in Silicon Valley history. Both Musk and [Peter] Thiel had a keen eye for young, brilliant engineers. The founders of start-ups as varied as YouTube, Palantir Technologies, and Yelp all worked at PayPal. Another set of people — including Reid Hoffman, Thiel, and [Roelof] Botha — emerged as some of the technology industry’s top investors. PayPal staff pioneered techniques in fighting online fraud that have formed the basis of software used by the CIA and FBI to track terrorists and of software used by the world’s largest banks to combat crime. This collection of super-bright employees has become known as the PayPal Mafia — more or less the current ruling class of Silicon Valley — and Musk is its most famous and successful member.
Musk’s uncanny ability to build successful organizations hit new levels after PayPal.
“During a time in which clean-tech businesses have gone bankrupt with alarming regularity, Musk has built two of the most successful clean-tech companies in the world,” Vance writes. “The Musk Co. empire of factories, tens of thousands of workers, and industrial might has incumbents on the run and has turned Musk into one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth around $10 billion.”
Musk’s track record suggests his lofty goals are achievable
Vance goes beyond simply laying out Musk’s track record. His portrait of Musk shows just how crucial the entrepreneur was to the major achievements behind every start-up he was involved with. Going even further, Vance’s report of Musk led him to believe PayPal’s achievements might have been limited by a cautious board of directors who had trouble wrapping their minds around Musk’s unbridled ambition.
“History has demonstrated that while Musk’s goals can sound absurd in the moment, he certainly believes in them and, when given enough time, tends to achieve them,” Vance argues.
Some of Musk’s current visions that are often criticized as overly optimistic include:
At Tesla, where Musk is CEO, he wants to sell 500,000 vehicles per year by 2020, up from management’s target to sell just 55,000 vehicles this year.
At SpaceX, the other company where Musk is currently CEO, he wants to put a man on Mars in 10 years.
Combining Tesla’s new battery storage business and the solar panel operations at SolarCity, where Musk serves as chairman, Musk wants to catalyze a global transition to sustainable energy.
Sparking a new level of innovation in Silicon Valley
After studying Musk, Vance believes that the entrepreneur is playing a key role in pushing Silicon Valley toward greater innovation and more meaningful work.
Vance describes a lull in Silicon Valley between 2002 and 2007:
Between Google and Apple’s introduction of the iPhone in 2007, there’s a wasteland of ho-hum companies. And the hot new things that were just starting out — Facebook and Twitter — certainly did not look like their predecessors — Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems — that made physical products and employed tens of thousands of people in the process. In the years that followed, the goal went from taking huge risks to create new industries and grand new ideas, to chasing easier money by entertaining consumers and pumping out simple apps and advertisements.
But Musk’s bold vision and willingness to take risks, paired with surprisingly robust execution, in the automotive, space, and energy industries, Vance explains, set a new precedent.
‘To me, Elon is the shining example of how Silicon Valley might be able to reinvent itself and be more relevant than chasing these quick IPOs and focusing on getting incremental products out,’ said Edward Jung, a famed software engineer and inventor. ‘Those things are important, but they are not enough. We need to look at different models of how to do things that are longer term in nature and where the technology is more integrated.’ The integration mentioned by Jung — the harmonious melding of software, electronics, advanced materials, and computer horsepower — appears to be Musk’s gift. Squint ever so slightly, and it looks like Musk could be using his skills to pave the way toward an age of astonishing machines and science fiction dreams made manifest.
Of the many profiles of business leaders, Vance’s take on Musk is among the best. The author’s objective and unbiased viewpoint captures Musk’s good and bad, his achievements and failures. Based on more than 30 hours of conversations with Musk, and interviews with close to 300 people, this investigative biography captures many facets of the inventor and entrepreneur. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future should be required reading for anyone in business.