Elon Reeve Musk FRS (/ˈiːlɒn/ EE-lon; born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate, industrial designer and engineer. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018. Also that year, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World's Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. A centi-billionaire, Musk became the richest person in the world in January 2021.
Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen's University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received dual bachelor's degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University, but dropped out after two days to pursue a business career. He co-founded Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, becoming its product architect that year and its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla). In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company focused on tunnels optimized for electric vehicles. In addition to his primary business pursuits, he envisioned an open-source high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop based on the concept of a vactrain.
Musk has also been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox or unscientific stances and highly publicized controversies. Following the rejection of a prototype submarine from Tesla that Musk had offered to be used in the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, he called a diver who advised in the rescue and disparaged the prototype a "pedo guy" and in response the diver sued for defamation; a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. Also in 2018, he falsely tweeted that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla at $420 a share. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued him for the comment. He settled with the SEC, temporarily stepping down from his chairmanship and accepting limitations on his Twitter usage. Musk has received substantial criticism for his views on artificial intelligence, public transportation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Childhood and family
Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. His mother is Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian born in Saskatchewan, Canada, but raised in South Africa. His father is Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, sailor, consultant, and property developer. He has a younger brother who was an early business partner, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974), the CEO of the video streaming site Passionflix. His maternal grandfather, Joshua Haldeman, was an American-born Canadian. His paternal grandmother had both British and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.
After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in the suburbs of Pretoria, a choice he made two years after the divorce and subsequently regretted. Musk has become estranged from his father, whom he has described as "a terrible human being... Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done." He also has a half-sister and a half-brother on his father's side.
Musk graduated from Pretoria Boys High School in South Africa. At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing while using the Commodore VIC-20.He learned computer programming using a manual and, by age 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500.An awkward and introverted child, Musk was severely bullied throughout his childhood and was once hospitalized after a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs.He attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School.
Although his father insisted that he attend college in Pretoria, Musk became determined to move to the United States, saying, "I remember thinking and seeing that America is where great things are possible, more than any other country in the world." Aware that it would be easier to enter the United States from Canada,he applied for a Canadian passport through his Canadian-born mother.
While awaiting Canadian documentation, Musk attended the University of Pretoria for five months. This allowed Musk to avoid mandatory service in the South African military. Arriving in Canada in June 1989, Musk failed to locate his great-uncle in Montreal and instead stayed at a youth hostel. He then traveled west to live with a second-cousin in Saskatchewan. He stayed there for a year, working odd jobs at a farm and lumber-mill. In 1990, Musk entered Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania; he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in economics from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in physics.
In 1994, Musk held two internships in Silicon Valley during the summer: at an energy storage start-up called Pinnacle Research Institute, which researched electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage, and at the Palo Alto-based start-up Rocket Science Games. Bruce Leak, the former lead engineer behind Apple's QuickTime who had hired Musk, noted: "He had boundless energy. Kids these days have no idea about hardware or how stuff works, but he had a PC hacker background and was not afraid to just go figure things out." In 1995, Musk was accepted to a Ph.D. program in energy physics/materials science at Stanford University in California. Musk attempted to get a job at Netscape, but he says that he never received a response to his job inquiries. He dropped out of Stanford after two days, deciding instead to join the Internet boom and launch an internet startup.
Main article: Zip2 External video video icon Musk speaks of his early business experience during a 2014 commencement speech at USC on YouTube In 1995, Musk, his brother Kimbal, and Greg Kouri founded web software company Zip2 with money raised from a small group of angel investors. They housed the venture at a small rented office in Palo Alto.The company developed and marketed an internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry, with maps, directions, and yellow pages. Before the company became successful, Musk says he could not afford an apartment, instead sleeping on the office couch and showering at the YMCA. Furthermore, he says they could only afford one computer, and consequently, according to Musk, "The website was up during the day and I was coding it at night, seven days a week, all the time."
Their efforts materialized when the Musk brothers obtained contracts with The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and persuaded the board of directors to abandon plans for a merger with CitySearch. Musk's attempts to become CEO were thwarted by the board. Compaq acquired Zip2 for $307 million in cash in February 1999. Musk received $22 million for his 7 percent share from the sale.
X.com and PayPal
Main articles: PayPal and X.com In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, with $10 million from the sale of Zip2. One year later, the company merged with Confinity, which had a money-transfer service called PayPal. The merged company focused on the PayPal service and was renamed PayPal in 2001. Musk was ousted in October 2000 from his role as CEO (although he remained on the board) due to disagreements with other company executives over his desire to move PayPal's Unix-based infrastructure to a Microsoft one. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk received $165 million. Before its sale, Musk, who was the company's largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal's shares.
In 2017, Musk purchased the domain X.com from PayPal for an undisclosed amount, explaining that it had sentimental value to him.
Main article: SpaceX Mars Oasis and the founding of SpaceX See also: History of SpaceX In 2001, Musk conceived Mars Oasis, in which a miniature greenhouse on Mars would grow food crops and reawaken public interest in space exploration. In October 2001, Musk traveled with a group to Moscow to buy refurbished Dnepr Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could send the greenhouse payloads into space. He met with companies such as NPO Lavochkin and Kosmotras; however, Musk was seen as a novice and was even spat on by one of the Russian chief designers. The group returned to the United States empty-handed. In February 2002, the group returned to Russia to look for three ICBMs. They had another meeting with Kosmotras and were offered one rocket for $8 million, which Musk rejected. Musk instead decided to start a company that could build affordable rockets.
With $100 million of his early fortune, Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp., traded as SpaceX, in May 2002.
In late 2017, SpaceX unveiled the design for its next-generation launch vehicle and spacecraft system, Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), that would support all SpaceX launch service provider capabilities with a single set of very large vehicles: Earth-orbit, Lunar-orbit, interplanetary missions, and even intercontinental passenger transport on Earth, and totally replace the Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon vehicles in the 2020s. Starship will have a 9-meter (30 ft) core diameter. Significant development on the vehicles began in 2017, with an initial prototype unveiled in September 2019, while the new rocket engine (Raptor) development began in 2012, with a first test flight performed in August 2019.
In a September 2018 announcement of a planned 2023 lunar circumnavigation mission, a private flight called #dearMoon project, Musk showed a redesigned concept for the BFR second stage and spaceship with three rear fins and two front canard fins added for atmospheric entry, replacing the previous delta wing and split flaps shown a year earlier. The revised BFR design was to use seven identically-sized Raptor engines in the second stage; the same engine model as would be used on the first stage. The second stage design had two small actuating canard fins near the nose of the ship, and three large fins at the base, two of which would actuate, with all three serving as landing legs. The two major parts of the re-designed BFR were given descriptive names in November: "Starship" for the upper stage and "Super Heavy" for the booster stage. As of October 2020, Musk was spending most of his time at the company's Boca Chica launch site leading the engineering work on Starship development.
In May 2020, SpaceX launched its first manned flight, the Demo-2, becoming the first private company to both place a person into orbit and dock a crewed space-craft with the ISS. Furthermore, it marked the first time an American astronaut was launched from American soil on an American rocket since the end of the Space Shuttle program.
SpaceX's goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10. In a 2011 interview, Musk said he hopes to send humans to Mars' surface within 10–20 years. In Ashlee Vance's biography, Musk stated that he wants to establish a Mars colony by 2040, with a population of 80,000 humans.Musk stated that, since Mars' atmosphere lacks oxygen, all transportation would have to be electric (electric cars, electric trains, Hyperloop, electric aircraft). Musk stated in June 2016 that the first unmanned flight of the larger Interplanetary Spaceship was aimed for departure to the red planet in 2022, to be followed by the first manned ITS Mars flight departing in 2024. In September 2016, Musk revealed details of his architecture to explore and colonize Mars.
Tesla, Inc. (originally Tesla Motors) was incorporated in July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who financed the company until the Series A round of funding. Both men played active roles in the company's early development prior to Musk's involvement. Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla's board of directors as its chairman. According to Musk, all three, along with J. B. Straubel, were inspired by the earlier AC Propulsion tzero electric roadster prototype. Musk took an active role within the company and oversaw Roadster product design at a detailed level, but was not deeply involved in day-to-day business operations. Following the financial crisis in 2008 and after a series of escalating conflicts in 2007, Eberhard was ousted from the firm. Musk assumed leadership of the company as CEO and product architect in 2008, positions he still holds today. As of 2019, Elon Musk is the longest tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Tesla Motors first built an electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, in 2008, with sales of about 2,500 vehicles to 31 countries, which was the first serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells. Tesla began delivery of its four-door Model S sedan in June 2012. Although it unveiled its third product, the Model X, in February 2012, the launch was delayed until September 2015.In addition to its own cars, Tesla sold electric powertrain systems to Daimler (for the Smart EV, Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive and Mercedes A Class), and to Toyota (for the RAV4 EV). Musk was able to bring in both Daimler and Toyota as long-term investors in Tesla.