Meet Elon Musk, A SA Born Billionaire with his name attached to Tesla, PayPal, SolarCity and SpaceX
Elon Musk was the second entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley (the first one was James H. Clark) who managed to create three companies with the market cap of more than $1 billion – PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors.
Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. He was the oldest of three children. His father is a South African-born British and engineer Errol Musk, and his mother is a Canadian-English and dietetics expert Maye Musk. Musk spent his childhood in South Africa and at the age of 9, he got his first personal computer, the Commodore VIC-20. Elon immediately got interested in programming and started to learn it by himself. At the age of 12, he earned $500 by selling a computer game Blastar (a shooter similar to Space Invaders), which he had created by himself.When Elon Musk started to struggle with adolescent depression, he began actively absorb philosophical and religious literature. Yet the most valuable lessons, he eventually learned from Douglas Adams’ book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.Elon Musk learned that the most difficult thing was to be able to come up with the right questions and the day he began to do that, the rest was obtained very simply. An episode that guided him to this conclusion was in which a giant supercomputer after several million years of thinking on the main purpose of life responded with a meaningless number 42.
Zip2 and PayPal
In the summer of 1995, Elon Musk made the second and the most important decision in his life. Having graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, he enrolled in the graduate school at Stanford University to pursue studies in the field of applied physics and materials science. However, after 2 days, he left the graduate school and together with his brother, Kimbal Musk, he created his first IT company Zip2. He worked from early morning until late evening. He lived in the same warehouse where he rent the office, and when he needed to take a shower he had to go to locker rooms of a local stadium. In return, he accumulated savings and kept the company afloat during the most difficult first two years.In 1999, Musk started to work on electronic payment systems that were gaining popularity. The X.com startup became his new business. In March 2000, X.com merged with a rival company Confinity that was running by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. Confinity developed software to allow owners of PalmPilots and other PDAs to store encrypted information on their devices, creating the first digital wallet. In 2001, after the merger, X.com was renamed to PayPal and Elon Musk became the chairman and chief executive of PayPal.In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion. Elon Musk received $180 million for his share from PayPal and had enough funds to pursue his other interests: space engineering and alternative energy sources. That was then when Elon stopped investing in internet business.
In 2003, engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors. From the very beginning, the company positioned itself as the first serial manufacturer of electric vehicles and its founders dreamed to free the customers from oil burden. Musk significantly supported such aspirations.Elon Musk came into the project in 2004, leading an investment round in the startup with a personal contribution of $70 million. On June 29, 2010, Tesla Motors started its initial public offering (IPO). It was the second (after Ford) car-manufacturing company in the U.S. history that entered the IPO market. Tesla Motors, despite being unprofitable for 10 years, got listed on NASDAQ with $17 per stock and attracted more than $225 million of investments. On March 31, 2016, Elon Musk unveiled the five-seater car, Tesla Model 3. That is the most affordable Tesla car yet with a price tag starting at $35,000. The base car can do a 0-60 mph (0-97 kmh) run under 6 seconds. The range is at least 215 miles (346 km) and plus supercharger support is capable. Model 3 includes all the autopilot safety features and will be equipped in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions. Musk said that it would be one the world safest cars in the world. Deliveries of Model 3 begin late 2017.Elon Musk is planning to cover the US, Europe, and Asia with the network of Supercharger stations. As of April 04, 2016, there are 613 Supercharger stations with 3,628 Superchargers in the world.
On May 01, 2015, within the Tesla Energy project, Tesla Motors introduced a wall mounted, rechargeable lithium ion battery with liquid thermal control, called Powerwall. There are two models of it: one goes with 10 kWh with a price tag of $3,500, which is applicable for backup applications, and another battery goes with 7 kWh – $3,000, which can be used for daily cycle applications. Powerwall batteries can be combined in arrays to increase the total storage capacity. Each battery is provided by a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
SolarCity Corporation is a provider of energy services headquartered in San Mateo, California, USA. The co-founders of SolarCity are two cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive. Elon Musk is a shareholder of the company. In 2003, he invested $10 million in it, after selling his 11 percent of PayPal stock.
Elon Musk started thinking of creating a space exploration technologies corporation (SpaceX) at the turn of the century. He was inspired by an ambitious idea of reducing space transportation costs to enable people to colonize Mars. SpaceX was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Hawthorne, California, USA.
Elon Musk is a demanding perfectionist and innovator in the high-tech industry. His education in the field of physics and economics helps him to see the objective truth and separate it from the emotional and speculative forecasts. He just thinks big. A bright example would be his concept of the fifth mode of transport called Hyperloop.On August 12, 2013, Musk published a blog post about Hyperloop and a 58-page Alpha Hyperloop presentation, which shed some light on its structure and function. Hyperloop is solar-power high-speed transportation system driven by linear induction motors and air compressors should deliver people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes covering the distance of 381.8 miles (614.44 km). Hyperloop is based on the similar technology of magnetic levitation trains. An electromagnetic impulse is used to move the “pods” or “capsules”, and a low air pressure makes it possible to achieve higher speeds than any other ground transportation.