Elon Musk at the Heisenberg Media summit in 2013
28 June 1971 |
Pretoria, South Africa
|Residence||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Nationality||South African, Canadian, American|
The Wharton School (B.A.)
University of Pennsylvania, (BSc.)
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, inventor, investor|
|Known for||Co-founding SpaceX, PayPal, Tesla Motors, Hyperloop, Zip2|
|Net worth||$12 Billion (March 2014)|
|Title||CEO and CTO of SpaceX,
Product Architect and CEO of Tesla Motors,
Chairman of SolarCity
Elon Musk (/ /; born 28 June 1971) is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, inventor  and investor. He is currently the CEO & CTO of SpaceX and CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors. He was an early investor in SpaceX, PayPal, Inc. Tesla Motors, and Zip2, and is widely considered a co-founder of each. Musk invented the Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system.
Early life and education
Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971, to a Canadian mother and a South African-born British father. Elon taught himself computer programming and at age 12 sold the computer code for a video game called Blastar for $500. After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father, Errol, in multiple locales of South Africa.
Musk graduated from Pretoria Boys High School and moved to Canada in 1988 at the age of 17, after obtaining Canadian citizenship through his mother. He did so in advance of his South African military service because he concluded it would be easier to immigrate to the United States from Canada than from South Africa. In 1992, after spending two years at Queen's School of Business in Kingston, Ontario, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he received a bachelor's degree in economics from the Wharton School. He stayed on a year to finish his second bachelor's degree in physics. He moved to California to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics at Stanford but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy and outer space. In 2002, he became an American citizen.
Musk started Zip2, a web software company, with his brother, Kimbal Musk. The company developed and marketed an Internet "city guide" for the newspaper publishing industry. Musk obtained contracts with The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune and persuaded the board of directors to abandon plans for a merger with a company called CitySearch. Compaq acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options in 1999. Musk received 7% or $22 million from the sale.
X.com and PayPal
In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company. One year later, the company merged with Confinity, which operated a subsidiary called PayPal. PayPal and X.com each had a person-to-person email-based payment system. The original intent was to merge the two systems, but it never happened.
Elon Musk strongly favored the PayPal brand over the X brand. After initially co-branding PayPal with the X brand, including making X.com a subdomain of PayPal  he moved to officially remove the X.com brand for good. Following this, the board appointed former PayPal founder Peter Thiel as interim CEO.
PayPal's early growth was due in large part to a successful viral growth campaign created by Musk. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which $165 million was given to Musk. Before its sale, Musk, the company's largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal's shares. Many of PayPal's early employees were later dubbed the PayPal Mafia when they moved on to notable careers at other technology companies.
Musk co-founded his third company with rocket propulsion engineer Tom Mueller. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was founded in June 2002. Musk is the chief executive officer and chief technical officer of the Hawthorne, California-based company. SpaceX develops and manufactures space launch vehicles with a focus on advancing the state of rocket technology. The company's first two launch vehicles are the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, and its first spacecraft is the Dragon.
SpaceX was awarded a $1.6 billion NASA contract on 23 December 2008, for 12 flights of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, replacing the Space Shuttle after it retired in 2011. Initially, Falcon 9/Dragon will replace the cargo transport function of the Space Shuttle and astronaut transport will be handled by the Soyuz. However, SpaceX has designed Falcon 9/Dragon with astronaut transport in mind and the Augustine commission has recommended that astronaut transport be handled by commercial companies like SpaceX.
Musk has stated that he was influenced by Isaac Asimov's Foundation series and views space exploration as an important step in expanding—if not preserving—the consciousness of human life. Musk has said that multiplanetary life may serve as a hedge against threats to the survival of the human species. "An asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: an engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Humankind evolved over millions of years, but in the last sixty years atomic weaponry created the potential to extinguish ourselves. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct." Musk's goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10. He founded SpaceX with $100 million of his early fortune.
In seven years, SpaceX designed the family of Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon multi-purpose spacecraft from the ground up. In September 2009, SpaceX's Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fuelled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. NASA selected SpaceX to be part of the first program that entrusts private companies to deliver cargo to the International Space Station. This contract, which has a minimum value of $1.6 billion and a maximum value of $3.1 billion, has become a cornerstone of the Space Station's continued access to cargo delivery and return. In addition to these services, SpaceX's goals include simultaneously lowering the price of orbital spaceflight and improving reliability, both by an order of magnitude, while creating the first fully reusable orbital launch vehicle. In the coming years, Musk will focus on delivering astronauts to the International Space Station, but has stated his personal goal of eventually enabling human exploration and settlement of Mars. In a 2011 interview, he said he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years. On 25 May 2012, the SpaceX Dragon vehicle docked with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station.
The company was co-founded by Martin Eberhard, Marc Tarpenning, JB Straubel, Ian Wright, and Musk., after initial incorporation by Eberhard and Tarpenning. Musk became involved with the company in 2004, as a Series A investor. Other Series A investments groups included SDL Ventures and Compass Technology Partners. Following the financial crisis in 2008, Musk assumed leadership of the company as CEO and product architect, positions he still holds today.
Tesla Motors first built an electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, with sales of about 2,500 vehicles to 31 countries. Tesla began delivery of its four-door Model S sedan on 22 June 2012 and unveiled its third product, the Model X, aimed at the SUV/minivan market, on 9 February 2012. Model X is scheduled to begin production in 2014. In addition to its own cars, Tesla sells electric powertrain systems to Daimler for the Smart EV and Mercedes A Class and to Toyota for the RAV4 EV. Musk was also able to bring in both companies as long-term investors in Tesla.
Musk has also favoured building a sub-$30,000 subcompact and building and selling electric vehicle powertrain components so that other automakers can produce electric vehicles at affordable prices without having to develop the products in house. Several mainstream publications have compared him with Henry Ford for his work on advanced vehicle powertrains.
To overcome the range limitations of electric cars, Musk said in an interview with All Things D in May 2013 that Tesla is "dramatically accelerating" their network of supercharger stations, tripling the number on the East and West Coasts that June, with plans for more expansion across North America, including Canada, throughout the year. He is reported to have a 32% stake in Tesla, which is valued at $18 billion, as of November 2013. Musk's annual salary at Tesla is one dollar, and similar to Steve Jobs and others, the remainder of his compensation is in the form of stock and performance-based bonuses.
Musk provided the initial concept for SolarCity, which was then co-founded by his cousins Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive. Musk remains the largest shareholder. SolarCity is now the largest provider of solar power systems in the United States.
The underlying motivation for funding both SolarCity and Tesla is to help combat global warming. In 2012, Musk announced that SolarCity and Tesla Motors are collaborating to use electric vehicle batteries to smooth the impact of rooftop solar on the power grid, with the program going live in 2013.
On 12 August 2013, Musk unveiled a proposal for a new form of transportation between the Greater Los Angeles area and the San Francisco Bay Area, after being disappointed with the approved California High-Speed Rail system. He named it "hyperloop," a hypothetical subsonic air travel machine that stretches approximately 350 miles (560 km) from Sylmar (a northern district of Los Angeles) to Hayward (east of San Francisco) and would theoretically allow commuters to travel between the cities in 30 minutes or less, providing a shorter traveling time than even a commercial airplane can currently provide. Musk's proposal, if technologically feasible at Musk's claimed costs, would make travel cheaper than any other mode of transport for such long distances. Musk estimated the total cost of the system at $6 billion, but this amount is very speculative. The system is proposed to use a partial vacuum to reduce aerodynamic drag, which it is theorized would allow for high speed travel with relatively low power. It was proposed to rely completely on solar energy for all power requirements.
Philosophy & Philanthropy
Musk has often ascribed his interest in the internet, renewable energy and space exploration to the existential crisis he experienced as a teenager. After reading philosophers Hegel, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche during his mid-teens, Musk briefly became depressed with the lack of answers to the large questions of life, such as the reason for existence. After coming to this conclusion, Musk decided that perhaps the reason for the lack of good answers was that mankind was not yet at the point to be able to ask the right question. Musk's philosophy is that if global consciousness can be expanded, perhaps in the future mankind will be able to ask the right question. Musk considers the internet, renewable energy and space exploration as the methods which have the potential to have the most impact in this sense. The internet can serve as a global nervous system, renewable energy can expand the timeframe within which mankind can try to ask the right questions before running into economical or ecological collapse, and space exploration can serve as a backup for life itself. Musk also considers becoming a spacefaring civilization as an important step in evolution itself, akin to life first crawling onto land.
Musk is chairman of the Musk Foundation, which focuses its philanthropic efforts on science education, pediatric health and clean energy. He is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation, promoting renewable-energy technologies. He sits on the boards of The Space Foundation, The National Academies Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, The Planetary Society, and Stanford Engineering Advisory Board. Musk is also a member of the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
He began a program through his foundation in 2010 to donate solar-power systems for critical needs in disaster areas. The first such solar-power installation was donated to a hurricane response center in Alabama that had been neglected by state and federal aid. To make it clear that this was not serving Musk's commercial interests, SolarCity noted that it had no present or planned business activity in Alabama. In a 2011 visit to Soma City in Fukushima, Japan, which had been devastated by tsunami, he donated a solar power project valued at $250,000 to this city.
Musk had plans for a "Mars Oasis" project in 2001, which would land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith. He put this project on hold when he came to the conclusion that the fundamental problem preventing humanity from becoming a true spacefaring civilization was the lack of advancement in rocket technology. He has sought to address this by founding SpaceX to create revolutionary new interplanetary rockets.
His long-term goal is to help humanity through SpaceX by creating a true spacefaring civilization. Musk's philosophy and description of what is needed to solve the problem are provided in the IEEE podcast "Elon Musk: a founder of Paypal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX" and article "Risky Business."
Musk joined The Giving Pledge in April 2012, offering an ethical commitment to donate the majority of his fortune to philanthropic causes. Musk became a member of the campaign first popularised by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates with a class of 12 of America's wealthiest families and individuals, which included Arthur Blank and Michael Moritz.
Car blog Jalopnik reported on 16 August 2012 that Musk was supporting an effort by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal to preserve the site of Nikola Tesla's lab on Long Island, New York and turn it into a museum, the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe.
Musk had been a supporter of the U.S. Political action committee FWD.us, which was started by fellow high-profile entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg and advocates for immigration reform. However, in May 2013, Musk publicly withdrew his support in protest of advertisements the PAC was running that supported causes like the Keystone Pipeline. It is common for PACs to support causes on both sides of the political spectrum to gain favor with lawmakers for the group's primary cause. Musk and other important members of the group, including David Sacks, pulled out of the organisation and criticized the strategy, calling it "cynical."
Awards and recognition
- Listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 people who most affected the world in 2010. Jon Favreau, director of the Iron Man movies, describes in his article how Musk was the model for Favreau's film depiction of billionaire Tony Stark.
- The world governing body for aerospace records, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, presented Musk in 2010 with the highest award in air & space, the FAI Gold Space Medal, for designing the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit. Prior recipients include Neil Armstrong, Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and John Glenn.
- Named as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine.
- In June 2011, Musk was awarded the $500,000 Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization
- In February 2011, Forbes listed Musk as one of "America's 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under".
- Recognized as a Living Legend in Aviation in 2010 by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft). Other recipients include Buzz Aldrin and Richard Branson.
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics George Low award for the most outstanding contribution in the field of space transportation in 2007/2008. Musk was recognized for his design of the Falcon 1, the first privately developed liquid fuel rocket to reach orbit.
- National Space Society's Von Braun Trophy in 2008/2009, given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space. Prior recipients include Burt Rutan and Steve Squyres.
- National Wildlife Federation 2008 National Conservation Achievement award for Tesla Motors and SolarCity. Other 2008 recipients include journalist Thomas Friedman, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
- The Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.
- R&D Magazine Innovator of the Year for 2007 for SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity.
- Automotive Executive of the Year (worldwide) in 2010 for demonstrating technology leadership and innovation via Tesla Motors. Prior awardees include Bill Ford Jr, Bob Lutz, Dieter Zetsche and Lee Iacocca. Musk is the youngest ever recipient of this award.
- Inc Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2007 for his work on Tesla and SpaceX.
- 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster. Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.
- In 2010, Musk was elected to the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology.
- In 2011, Musk was honored as a Legendary Leader at the Churchill Club Awards.
- In 2012, Musk was awarded with the Royal Aeronautical Society's highest award – a Gold Medal.
Musk is a Director of the Planetary Society, a Trustee of The X-Prize Foundation and a member of the Stanford University Engineering Advisory Board. He has previously served as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Musk was ranked as the No. 10 (tied with rocketry pioneer and scientist Wernher von Braun) most popular space hero.
- Honorary doctorate in design from the Art Center College of Design
- Honorary doctorate (DUniv) in aerospace engineering from the University of Surrey
Musk has described himself as a workaholic. He has said that he can work up to 100 hours per week running Tesla Motors and SpaceX if needed, often flying in a corporate jet.
Musk previously owned a McLaren F1 sports car and a Czech-made jet trainer aircraft Aero L-39. The 1994 model Dassault Falcon 900 aircraft used in the 2005 film Thank You for Smoking is registered to Musk (N900SX) and Musk had a cameo as the pilot of his plane, opening the door for Robert Duvall and escorting Aaron Eckhart aboard. Musk owns Wet Nellie, the Lotus Esprit from the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. He plans to convert it into the functional car-submarine from the film. Musk has attended the Burning Man festival, and says that he first thought up the idea for SolarCity at the 2004 festival.
Musk met his first wife, the Canadian-born author Justine Musk (born Wilson), while they were both students at Queen's University. They married in 2000 and announced their separation in September 2008.
Musk announced in January 2012 that he had recently ended a four-year relationship with his second wife, British actress Talulah Riley. Despite their split, Musk said that the two would "always be friends." On 18 January 2012, Musk tweeted to Riley, "It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day." On February 11, 2014 Musk was invited to attend a State Dinner at the White House. The guest list included Mr. Elon Musk and Mrs. Talulah Musk. Also, in a 60 Minutes interview on Mar 30, 2014 with CBS journalist Scott Pelley, Musk and Talulah are still happily together in their marriage with Elon's five children from his first marriage with Justine Musk.
Elon and Justine Musk's first child was a boy named Nevada Alexander. He died of SIDS when he was 10 weeks old. Musk has five children, all boys: a set of twins and one of triplets. He shares custody with Justine Musk.
Tosca Musk, Elon's sister, is the founder of Musk Entertainment and has produced various movies. Elon was the executive producer of her first movie, Puzzled. His brother Kimbal was the CEO of a social search company OneRiot and owner of The Kitchen restaurant with locations in Boulder and Denver, Colorado.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Elon Musk|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Elon Musk.|
- Elon Musk Twitter
- The Musk Foundation web site
- Viral Marketing, MBAs and pesky governments, Elon talks at Stanford (8 October 2003)
- Statement of Elon Musk at House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Hearings on the Future Market for Commercial Space (20 April 2005)
- Bloomberg Risk Takers: Elon Musk, documentary movie, 52 mins., August 2011.
- Gimien, Mark (17 August 1999). "Fast Track". Salon.com.
- Hoffman, Carl (June 2007). "Elon Musk Is Betting His Fortune on a Mission Beyond Earth's Orbit". Wired Magazine.
- Carlson, Nicholas (19 February 2008). "Elon Musk's Tesla caught on video smoking Scoble and Calacanis". Valleywag.
- Kanellos, Michael (15 February 2008). "Elon Musk on rockets, sports cars, and solar power". CNET News.com.
- Chafkin, Max (December 2007). "Entrepreneur of the Year: Elon Musk". Inc. Magazine.
- Bailey, Brandon (May 2010). "Elon Musk: Will his Silicon Valley story have a Hollywood ending?". San Jose Mercury News.
- History of PayPal
- "Science Fiction Books That Inspired Elon Musk," Media Bistro: Alley Cat, 19 March 2013
- People we would send to Mars with Elon Musk
- "An interview with Elon Musk". HobbySpace. 5 August 2003.
- "Lift off with Elon Musk". Carte Blanche. 4 September 2005.
- Bergin, Chris (20 January 2006). "SpaceX's Musk and Thompson Q and A". nasaspaceflight.com.
- Video interview of Elon Musk by Zadi Diaz of EPIC FU, weekly web show that covers online pop culture (17 June 2008)
- Gray, Sadie (4 January 2009). "Forget the bungalow, retire to Mars". Sunday Times (London).
- An interview at the Founders Showcase. (5 August 2010)
- An interview on the Kevin Pollak Chat Show. (17 September 2009)
- Elon Musk: 'I'm planning to retire to Mars' a video interview for the Guardian. (1 August 2010)
- An interview about commercial space flights on 60 minutes. (18 March 2012)
- A 20 minute interview about sending humans to Mars with BBC's Jonathan Amos. (20 March 2012)
- Elon Musk on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on 10 April 2012
- Elon Musk: The mind behind Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity with Chris Anderson at the TED2013 conference.