Elon Musk is a serial entrepreneur who is highly successful. He is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Engineer at SpaceX, a private, space exploration company. He is the Chief Executive Officer and product architect of Telsa Motors, one of the world’s premiere electric car companies. Musk is also the founder of The Boring Company, a tunnel construction company, and the co-founder of Neuralink, a neurotechnology company that develops implantable brain-machine interfaces, and OpenAI, an artificial intelligence lab.
Musk was born, on June 28, 1971, to his Canadian mother and South African father, and was raised in Pretoria, South Africa. His mom is Maye Musk, a model and a dietitian who was born in Saskatchewan, Canada but raised in South Africa. His dad is Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, sailor, consultant and property developer who once was the co-owner of a Zambian emerald mine. Musk’s family was very wealthy during his youth, his father once remarking, “We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe.” After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk mainly lived with his father in Pretoria. Around the age of 10, Musk became interested in computers and video games, acquiring a Commodore VIC-20, using a manual to teach him computer programing. At the age of 12, he sold the code of a BASIC-base video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for roughly $500.
While awaiting a Canadian passport, Musk attended the University of Pretoria for five months, allowing him to avoid mandatory service in the South African Military. He arrived in Canada in June 1989 and in 1990 entered Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Physics. Prior to graduating in 1994, Musk held two Silicon Valley internships. One internship was at the energy storage startup Pinnacle Research Institute, where he studied electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage. His second internship was at video game developer Rocket Science Games, a company that created games for consoles and computers from 1993 to 1997. In 1995, Musk was accepted to a PhD. program in Material Science at Stanford University, however, he dropped out after two days and alternatively decided to join the Internet boom and launch his own startup.
In 1995, Musk and others founded a web software company known as Zip2 with funds from Angel Investors. The company made an Internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash in February 1999, earning Musk $22 million for his 7 percent share. In the same year, Musk co-founded X.com, a financial services and e-mail payment company. It was the one of the first federally insured online banks and in its first few months of operation, 200,000 customers joined. In 2000, X.com merged with the online bank Confinity to prevent unnecessary competition. Confinity, an American software company founded by Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, had its own money-transfer service called PayPal, which was more popular than X.com’s. Musk became the Chief Executive Officer of the merged companies, however, his preference for Microsoft software over Linux created a rift in the company ultimately leading to the resignation of Thiel. This resulted in technological issues and a lack of a cohesive business model, which led the board to oust Musk and replace him with Thiel in September 2000. Under Thiel, the company focused on PayPal and renamed itself PayPal in 2001. In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Musk, the largest PayPal shareholder with 11.7 percent of the stock, received $100 million as part of the purchase. In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX. Tesla Motors was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who financed the company until a Series A round of funding led by Musk began in February 2004. Musk invested $6.5 million in Tesla, becoming the majority shareholder and joining the Telsa board as Chairman. He took an active role in the company and oversaw the product design of its first electric sports car, the Roadster. Musk became Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer and Product Architect in 2008. Musk provided the initial concept and capital for SolarCity, a publicly-traded company headquartered in Fremont, California that sold and installed solar energy generation systems. Telsa acquired SolarCity for more than $2 billion in 2016 and merged with its battery energy storage products division to create Tesla Energy. In 2016, Musk co-founded Neuralink to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence – “Fitbit in your skull,” as Musk calls it. That same year, Musk founded The Boring Company to solve traffic, by building tunnels, enabling rapid point-to-point transportation.
According to Forbes, Musk is the wealthiest person in the world and in history. In January of 2022, he had an estimated net worth of $304 billion.
On March 30, 2019, Musk released a rap track, “RIP Harambe” on SoundCloud as Emo G Records. It was an allusion to the killing of Harambe, a gorilla in a Cincinnati zoo who became an Internet meme. On January 30, 2020, he released an EDM track “Don’t Doubt Ur Vibe,” featuring his own lyrics and vocals. Musk is the Chairman of the Musk Foundation, a mission of providing solar-power energy systems to disaster areas. The foundation has made more than 350 contributions since 2002. Musk is also a trustee of the X Prize Foundation, a nonprofit that hosts public competitions to encourage technological development for the benefit of humanity. In January 2021, Musk promised to donate $100 million to whoever could develop the best carbon capture technology. Musk is a bona fide celebrity, who was married to Canadian author Justine Wilson and English actress Talulah Riley and has a child with Canadian musician Grimes. He hosted Saturday Night Live in May 2021 and is personal friends with the rapper Kanye West.