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Elon Reeve Musk is a Canadian-American entrepreneur and investor. Through his participation in some of the most well-known innovative companies of the last decades, he gained worldwide fame beyond entrepreneurial circles and is part of the pop culture of the 21st century. In the following, this article takes a closer look at the visionary.
Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, where he spent his childhood and youth. After their parents separated, he and his two younger siblings mostly lived with their father. After graduating high school, he and his brother applied for Canadian passports and immigrated to North America at the age of 16. On the one hand, he wanted to avoid military service in apartheid South Africa, and on the other hand, it enabled him to study at a local university. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and physics from the University of Pennsylvania, he was admitted to a Ph.D. program at the renowned Stanford University in California. However, he broke this off after only two days with the intention of founding an Internet company.
Elon Musk showed an interest in technology from a young age. At the age of ten he was already dealing with programming languages and at the age of twelve he sold the first self-developed video game (“Blaster”) to a computer magazine for 500 US dollars.
Elon Musk founded his first company in 1995. The company Zip2 offered content for media companies and was founded by the entrepreneur and his brother with only 2000 US dollars capital. Just four years later, computer manufacturer Compaq bought the Zip2 for $307 million. This was the largest takeover of an Internet company to date and the proceeds enabled Musk to implement further business ideas. In 1999 he founded X.com, an online payment system, which in the following year became the most important system of its kind today: PayPal. When the company was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk, as the largest shareholder, held 11.5% of the company’s shares.
Further company foundations in the years that followed no longer focused primarily on the development of previously non-existent products, but rather on the possibility of making products that were previously very expensive, for example due to their complexity, suitable for mass production and cheaper.
The first foundations aimed in this direction were SpaceX and Tesla. Under Musk’s leadership since 2002, the aerospace company SpaceX has succeeded in becoming the world’s leading commercial provider of rocket launches. Due to the reusability of individual rocket elements, SpaceX has also managed to minimize the costs per space flight. The company Tesla, where Musk has worked since 2004, is one of the world’s most innovative in the field of electric mobility and has set itself the goal of accelerating the transition to sustainable mobility.
Since 2006, Elon Musk has founded four other companies dedicated to the development of artificial intelligence and its connection with humans (OpenAI & Neuralink), the development of solar power systems (SolarCity) and the development of Hyperloop transport connections (The Boring Company).
– Co-founder of Zip2 – 1995
– Co-founder and CEO of X.com and PayPal – 1999
– CEO and CTO of SpaceX – 2002
– CEO and product designer of Tesla – 2004
– Chairman SolarCity – 2006
– “Patience is a virtue I am still learning. It’s a tough lesson.”
– “I am interested in things that have an impact on the future of the world. Wondrous new technologies you see and wonder if this really just happened.”
– “I think that ordinary people can choose to be extraordinary.”
– “People should always strive to fulfill their passion. That makes us happier than anything else.”
tips for success
For Elon Musk it is important that people have the courage to implement their visions. Simply philosophizing about how an idea can be realized is not enough. He once said about this:
“If you care enough about something, you do it, even if the odds are against you.”
The fact that failure is a possibility that cannot be ignored is shown by the entrepreneur in this context with the following statement:
“Failure is an option. If certain things don’t fail, you’re not innovative enough.”
However, the chance of success is significantly higher if you manage to get your team enthusiastic about the idea to the same extent. The aim is for people not only to do their work because they are paid for it, but because the employees enjoy doing their work and in this way they try to achieve a common goal. Or to put it in Elon Musk’s words:
“People work better when they know for what purpose and why. It’s important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and that they enjoy their work.”