Born in 1971 in South Africa of a model and dietitian, Maye Musk, and an electromechanical engineer, Errol Musk, whom Elon has described as "a terrible human being," Elon Reeve Musk is the eldest of his parents' three children, and a citizen of three countries: South Africa, Canada, and the US.
Musk spent his childhood with his nose in books and computers. A small, introverted boy, he was ostracized by his schoolmates and regularly beaten up by class bullies, until he became big enough to defend himself after a growth spurt in his teens.
Musk moved to Silicon Valley in summer 1995. He registered in a PhD program in applied physics at Stanford University but withdrew after only two days. His brother Kimball Musk, who is 15 months younger than Elon, had just graduated from Queen's University with a business degree and come to join him in California.The early Internet was heating up, and the brothers decided to launch a startup they called Zip2, an online business directory equipped with maps.
In due course, the brothers found angel investors for Zip2 and built it into a successful company. In 1999, the brothers sold Zip2 to computer maker Compaq for $307 million (280 million).
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at a delivery ceremony for the first Tesla Model 3 cars made at Tesla's Shanghai factory in Shanghai in January 2020
Elon then founded an online financial services company, X.com, on his own. Its main rival was a company called Confinity, founded by Peter Thiel and two others just months after X.com, with offices in the same building. The two companies mergedin March 2000 and took on the name of their main product, PayPal, a person-to-person online money transfer service.
Ebay, the online auction service, bought PayPal in October 2002 for $1.5 billion worth of Ebay shares. At the age of 31, Elon Musk, who had been the largest shareholder in PayPal with 11.7% of its equity shares, found himself holding $165 million worth of Ebay stock.
The companies he has founded, co-founded, and/or led since leaving PayPal two of which, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, he risked his entire early fortune to build are all focused onaddressing three distinct existential risks to the long-term survival of humanity: Climate risk, single-planet dependency risk, and human species obsolescence risk.
Tesla Motors, SolarCity, and The Boring Company are aimed at addressing climate risk by accelerating the transition to clean electricity and electricity-powered transportation.
Single-planet dependency risk
According to Musk, humanity's long-term survival is at risk if it stays limited to just this one planet. Sooner or later, some disaster maybe an asteroid, supervolcano, or nuclear war will end our tenure here. Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, in May 2002, to get us off the planet.
Musk taught himself the necessary engineering skills to design rockets, and is chief technology officer as well as CEO of SpaceX. A key hire early on was the 11th employee to join:GwynneShotwell, put in charge of business development, soon established herself as Musk's right-hand woman at SpaceX. She has become a legend in the space-tech world, and the company may well havehave failed without her.
Human species obsolescence risk
Musk and other thinkers say that artificial general superintelligences (AGSIs) i.e. machine general intelligences smarter than human beings will present an enormous existential risk to the future of humanity.
That's why, in December 2015, he co-founded the not-for-profit company OpenAI to develop "friendly AI." OpenAI provides free access to its advanced AI research results; the idea is to disseminate techniques for making AGSI safe, and to prevent powerful groups from monopolizing AGSI.
A modified Tesla Model X drives in the tunnel entrance before an unveiling event for the Boring Co. Hawthorne test tunnel in California
Missteps, tough times and controversy
Elon Musk is not a perfect, infallible hero. He is a brilliant creator of extraordinary vision and capability, but he is also, according to some former employees, a very hard man to work for. He works 80-hour weeks, and he expects his engineers to work crazy hours, too.
He is often impatient with co-workers, and when he's under stress, he sometimes fires people on the spot for what he considers displays of incompetence, but others might describe as very minor mistakes.
In his public communications, he has made a number of errors in judgment, sometimes sending out incendiary tweets that he later had to apologize for (he tweets a lot).
In May 2020, Musk weathered a storm of controversy over his decision to reopen his Tesla Motors manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, after a two-month closure, in disobedience to an Alameda County administrator who ruled that Tesla was not an "essential business" and should remain closed due to the region's SARS-CoV-2 pandemic lockdown.
Although there have been controversies and ill-considered public remarks, there have been few major errors in core business execution. With Tesla and SpaceX having weathered their fragile early growth years and now well on the way to becoming massive cash cows, there is now little to slow Elon Musk down as he strives to drive his companies "ad astra" to the stars.
Read more here:
- In college, Elon Musk thought these 5 things would change the world - CNBC - July 4th, 2020
- Is Elon Musk a Republican? - Fox Business - July 4th, 2020
- How Elon Musk's Starlink satellites may have stifled the best chance to find Planet 9 - CNN - July 4th, 2020
- Elon Musk hits out over Ghislaine Maxwell picture - 'someone is pushing this' - Daily Star - July 4th, 2020
- A reflection in a photo of Elon Musk and Kanye West appears to show Grimes taking the picture - Insider - INSIDER - July 4th, 2020
- Leaked Elon Musk Email, Plus Tesla Firmware 2020.24.6 and Texas Gigafactory Hearing - TheStreet - June 24th, 2020
- How to land a job at Elon Musk's SpaceX, according to the rocket company's software team - CNBC - June 24th, 2020
- Artist turns Elon Musks viral tweets into illustrations that are now part of a colouring book - The Indian Express - June 24th, 2020
- Elon Musk Is Attempting to Revolutionize HVAC Systems - ACHR NEWS - June 24th, 2020
- Elon Musk Bitcoin vanity addresses used to scam users out of $2 million - ZDNet - June 24th, 2020
- Titletown to Teslatown? Brown County reaches out to Tesla's Elon Musk - WBAY - June 24th, 2020
- Why Intelligent Minds Like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs Embrace the Rule of Awkward Silence - Inc. - June 24th, 2020
- Column: Tesla's reluctant commitment to cobalt a warning to others - Andy Home - Reuters - June 24th, 2020
- Elon Musk's tunnel project hit a milestone. But the future is unclear. - CNN - June 13th, 2020
- Here's how to find out when Elon Musk's SpaceX may provide you with satellite internet - CNBC - June 13th, 2020
- A midnight tweet from Elon Musk was presented as groundbreaking, but it was merely stating the obvious about cannabis - The GrowthOp - June 13th, 2020
- Croatia's Elon Musk Launched an Electric Mountain Bike, and It's Insane - Gear Patrol - June 13th, 2020
- Elon Musk is tech Covidiot No. 1 during coronavirus pandemic - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk: Enduring Truths And New Lessons From An American Pioneer - Forbes - June 1st, 2020
- How Elon Musk took SpaceX from an idea to the cusp of making history - USA TODAY - June 1st, 2020
- SpaceX founder Elon Musk in 2012: "I would have to be insane if I thought the odds were in my favor." - 60 Minutes - CBS News - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk and Grimes have changed their baby's name. A bit - CNN - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk's big day gets scuttled by clouds, and four other business stories you need to read today - CNN - June 1st, 2020
- Tired of the Mess Earth is in? Billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos Are Readying Outer Space for You to Liv... - News18 - June 1st, 2020
- Of course billionaires like Elon Musk love outer space. The Earth is too small for their egos - The Guardian - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk wants you to read this story about one of the biggest medical and economic blunders of all time - MarketWatch - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk is polluting the skies with SpaceXs thousands of satellites - MarketWatch - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk's SpaceX is hiring: Take a look at some of the positions - Fox Business - June 1st, 2020
- SpaceX Starlink: Do the costs of Elon Musks ambitious plan outweigh its benefits? - Scroll.in - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk got the title of real-life Iron Man after his assistance in Marvel films - Geo News - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musks SpaceX Commissioned a Street Artist to Create Indestructible Gold Paintings as Dcor for Its First Trip to the International Space Station -... - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk and Grimes had to change their baby's name -- a bit - KPTV.com - June 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk appears to be selling more California properties after pledging to 'own no house' - CNBC - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk has a complex relationship with the A.I. community - CNBC - May 14th, 2020
- What would Elon Musk name you? This website may have the answer - Hindustan Times - May 14th, 2020
- Nobody tells Elon Musk what to do. Maybe that's the problem - San Francisco Chronicle - May 14th, 2020
- Go read this Wall Street Journal story about Elon Musks personal finances - The Verge - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk rails against stay-at-home orders while tweeting debunked and controversial coronavirus claims - CNN - May 14th, 2020
- Grimes Shares the First Video of Elon Musk Holding Baby X - HarpersBAZAAR.com - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk and Grimes' Baby Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup - WIRED - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk and Grimes reveal how to pronounce baby's name -- but they disagree - CNN - May 14th, 2020
- Tesla patents a new battery cell that Elon Musk hypes as way more important than it sounds - Electrek - May 14th, 2020
- Is Grimes' relationship with Elon Musk distracting us from her musical brilliance? - Happy Mag - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk has a lot to say about Covid-19. Some of it isn't true - CNN - May 14th, 2020
- Elon Musk | Biography & Facts | Britannica - May 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk | SpaceX - May 1st, 2020
- Elon Musks 42,000 StarLink Satellites Could Just Save The ... - May 1st, 2020
- How Elon Musk Became Elon Musk: Elon Musk's Early Years - May 1st, 2020
- Coronavirus has Elon Musk acting like just another used car salesman - The Guardian - May 1st, 2020
- A lot of exciting news: Elon Musk reveals just how far ahead of the game Tesla is now - The Driven - May 1st, 2020
- Trevor Noah Unlocks The Mysteries Of Apple Phones, Elon Musk, And Trumps Twitter - Deadline - May 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk Demands COVID-19 Restrictions Be Lifted: Give People Their Freedom Back! - Consequence of Sound - May 1st, 2020
- Elon Musk: The TSLA stock price is too high in my opinion - ForexLive - May 1st, 2020