Seldom do we see such a young life where big dreams and ambitions are transformed into reality in the span of a few short years; his story is a testament to vision, passion, determination with a generous helping of talent.
Born in South Africa in 1971 Elon Musk was raised in Pretoria by a South African engineer father, Errol Musk, and Canadian born Pennsylvania Dutch, nutritionist and author mother, Maye. As he grew up he dreamed of moving to the US where he believed “anything is possible.” His first stop though was Canada where he spent two years at Queens University in Kingston Ontario.
In 1992 he matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where he pursued a business and physics degree. Before he was done he had an undergraduate degree in business and physics and moved to Silicon Valley in California where in 1995 he enrolled in Stanford’s PhD program in Applied Physics and Materials Science.
A young dreamer and fan of Nicola Tesla Musk focused on what he believed to be the most important challenges and opportunities facing humanity: the Internet, clean energy, and space. After only two days at Stanford he dropped out to start a company with his brother Kimbal Musk named “Zip2″ which provided online content publishing software to news organizations.
Four short years later in 1999 Compaq acquired Zip2 four $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options. In March 1999 Musk cofounded X.com the global payments system which later became PayPal, Inc. In 2002 he sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in stock.
Musk’s third venture he called SpaceX which was founded in 2002. Space X develops and manufactures space launch systems. SpaceX’s first two launch vehicles were Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 and their first spaceship is known as the Dragon. In 2008 NASA awarded SpaceX $1.6 billion for 12 flights of their Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station in place of the retiring Space Shuttle program.
Next, Musk cofounded Tesla Motors in 2003. Tesla’s Roadster was the first electric sports car in the world which shipped 2,300 vehicles to 31 countries. Tesla supplies its electric power-train systems to a variety of leading auto manufacturers including Mercedes and Toyota.
Finally Musk started a company called SolarCity which is the largest provider of solar power systems in the United States. Musk’s motivation is to help the world deal with global warming. Batteries used in Tesla Motors electric vehicles are being adapted for use as solar power batteries.
Musk works 100 hour weeks running his companies. At the age of 41 he has had two marriages end in divorce and has five sons.