Elon Musk rose to fame in a short span of time. When he was in his late
twenties he was already a multi-millionaire after selling his start-up company,
Zip2, to a special division run by Compaq Computers. In a 2000 merger, he
went on to launch PayPal. This was followed by SpaceX or Space Exploration
Technologies Corp. in 2002. In 2003, he launched Tesla Motors and went on
to become a household name. Still quite young, the future is bright for this
entrepreneur and one of the greatest business minds of the 21st century.
Childhood and Early Years
Musk was born in South Africa on the 28th of June, 1971. He bought his first
computer when he was just 10 years old. Interestingly, he did not need any help to learn
computer programming. He taught himself and made his first software sale
when he was 12. This was a game called Blaster, which Musk programmed,
designed and developed on his own.
Musk’s father was an engineer and his mother worked as a nutritionist. She was
a Canadian. Since childhood, he was always fascinated by computers and
science fiction. Programming and selling a video game on his own when he
was just 12 was the first step in what was to come.
When Musk was in his late teens, he was required to join the military service
which was mandatory for white males living in South Africa. However, he
was not interested and immigrated to Canada. As his mother was Canadian, her
ties helped him to enroll in one of Ontario’s best schools, Queen’s University
By this time, Musk had already decided on a career in business. As a result, he
started working at a Canadian Bank in the summer. During this period, he was
simply a college intern. Before becoming an entrepreneur this was his only real
job. When Musk was in the middle of his undergraduate education, he moved
to the University of Pennsylvania. He was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Just one year later, he earned his second bachelor’s degree in Physics.
Due to his academic excellence, Musk was granted admission in the doctoral
program at Stanford University. In California, he concentrated on his Ph.D in
Energy Physics. He had moved to California in 1995. This was the period
when the Internet had just become popular. Without giving it a second thought,
Musk wanted to be a part of it. It took just two days for him to drop out of
Stanford and launch his first company, Zip2.
In 1995, Musk was 24 years old. He had already dropped out of Stanford
University to launch his first company after only attending two days of
classes. Needless to say, he was terrified and nervous. At the same time, he was
confident and determined. The Zip2 Corporation was a basic online city guide. It
provided all kinds of content for the web versions of the Chicago Tribune and the New
York Times. In the beginning, Elon Musk faced many challenges and
experienced many financial hurdles. Eventually, he had to sell major control of
his company to venture capitalists for $3.6 million.
It did not take long for the Zip2 Corporation to become a market leader. Soon, it
was providing complete content for new web versions of the Chicago Tribune and the
New York Times. Finally, Musk hit the jackpot when he sold the Zip2 Corporation
to a division of Compaq computers in 1999. The deal was finalized for $34
million in stock options and $307 million in cash.
With $10 million, Elon started his next company in 1999. X.com was one of the first online banks. He invented and developed a way of securely transferring money by using a person or recipient’s email address.
X.com was a huge hit and able to buy a company called Confinity. This
company had already started a process for transferring money on the internet. It
was called PayPal. Soon, he decided to drop the idea of online banking and
focused on becoming the first global payment transfer provider. PayPal was
sold to eBay in 2002. Musk was able to make $165 million in eBay stock and
$1.5 billion in cash from this deal.
Elon Musk launched Space Exploration Technologies Corp or SpaceX in 2002.
Musk has been a long-running member of the Mars Society. It is a non-profit
organization which has always supported the exploration of Mars. In fact, Musk has
always been interested in setting up a greenhouse on Mars.
In order to turn his dream into reality, SpaceX has been focused on developing
rocket technology. The company and Musk made history on the 22nd of May, 2012,
when the first rocket, Falcon 9, was launched by SpaceX into space. It had an
The rocket had about 1000 pounds of supplies for astronauts who were already
stationed there. In fact, this was the first time a private company had
taken an initiative and sent a rocket to the International Space Station on Mars.
Musk co-founded Tesla Motors in 2004 and was the product architect of
the company. This company focuses on building electric vehicles. It has
already built an electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. This vehicle also comes in a variant for the economy class. A four door electric sedan has also been launched in the market. In the future, Tesla Motors is planning to build many more electric cars.
Musk also co-founded SolarCity in 2006. He co-founded this company with his
cousin, Lyndon Rive. This company deals in photovoltaics products and
services. In the past couple of years, the company has shown great progress and
By the time Elon Musk reached 28, he was already a multi-millionaire with all the
credit going to PayPal. It became an instant hit for global money transfer
through the internet. SpaceX also played an important role in Musk’s success.
Recently, he was named as one of the ‘thrillionaires’ by the New York Times.
Thrillionaires are a group of high-tech visionaries and entrepreneurs who have
found ways to turn their wealth into something that transforms science fiction
dreams into reality. There is no doubt that Musk has been one of the greatest
business minds in the 21st century. It will be interesting to see if he stays on
the same track for years to come.
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