The mind blowing visionary Elon Musk is transforming the way we live today. He founded his first company (Zip2) at the age of 23 and sold it for $300 million. But that was not enough to quench Elon’s thirst for startup success, so he opened a new online payment platform called PayPal which allows users to safely buy and sell online.
Since then, Elon has made solar energy affordable for the public through his company SolarCity, and has made the dream of an electric car possible and inexpensive with Tesla Motors. If that wasn’t enough, his SpaceX space travel adventures have proven to be a major success with a very promising future.
Musk‘s mind was set to focus on things that would most affect the future of humanity: The internet; clean energy; and space.
Elon Musk’s Early Years
Elon taught himself computer programming at an early age, which allowed him to sell his first program by the age of twelve. A space game he created named “Blastar” for $500.
Leaving home at seventeen, Elon avoided serving the South African Military, and decided he wanted to live in the U.S, believing “It is where great things are possible.”
Elon moved so that he could acquire his Ph.D. In applied physics and materials science at Stanford University in California but ended up dropping out early to fullfil the dream of launching his first startup.
(Founded In 1995)
Elon’s first taste at being an entrepreneur was through the creation of ‘Zip2‘. A website that provided online content publishing software for various news organisations, which he started with his brother Kimbal Musk. It wasn’t long before they managed to get investment for Zip2 from such companies as: The New York Times, HEARST Corporation, KnightRidder and many others.
Although ‘Zip2‘ was only a small business. Compaq’s AltaVista bought ‘Zip2‘ for over $300 million, which made Elon and his brother multi-millionaires by twenty-eight years of age.
“Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that… you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.” – Elon Musk
(Founded In 1999)
Musk used $10 Million of his earnings from Zip2 to create an online financial service and e-mail payment company in 1999 called ‘X.com‘. Musk acquired ‘Confinity Inc‘ which was initially a Palm Pilot payments and cryptography company. The merged company’s intentions were to keep the name ‘X.com‘, but public surveys eventually showed that major consumers considered the name ‘X.com‘ vague and mistakenly pornographic at which they found ‘PayPal’ more appealing to its intentions.
After an initial public offering, the company was bought out by eBay.
“We could either watch it happen, or be a part of it.” – Elon Musk
(Founded In 2002)
Elon’s obsession about space was showcased from the game ‘Blastar‘ he had created when he was twelve years old. Eventually exhibiting the world that he could beat NASA in space technology. At which he produced the company ‘SpaceX‘.
His greatest vision was to yield technology that takes you and I to another planet! And funded the project alone coming close to $100 million, spending a majority of his net-worth during that time.
In September 2009, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately funded liquid-fuelled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. On 25 May 2012, Elon’s launched his next project “the SpaceX Dragon” vehicle successfully docking with the ISS, making history as the first commercial company to launch and dock a vehicle to the International Space Station.
Last week Elon Musk announced that his team has built a system that allows one to design rocket parts with “hand movements through the air.”
“There’s a tremendous bias against taking risks. Everyone is trying to optimize their ass-covering.” – Elon Musk
(Founded In 2003)
Musk‘s idea for electric cars had stirred into his mind long before ‘Tesla Motors‘ was present. Co-founding ‘Tesla Motors‘ and contributing to the company as head product designer, Musk managed to build the first viable electric sports car to help humanity break away from fossil fuels. The high-end electric car, the Tesla Roadster, was sure enough in high demand, which allowed ‘Tesla Motors‘ to produce an affordable model to launch to the public.
Musk hit a snag in 2007 as ‘Tesla Motors‘ was falling short of available funds. The cost to build the cars at a high quality were over $140,000, at which their intentions were to sell the cars for $65,000. At this point, Musk had to take responsibility for the companies declination. Hard decisions had to be made and Elon spent additional dedication to the company, forcing the company to replace Martin Eberhard as CEO, which Elon claimed the duty.
Tesla Motor’s come-back was outstanding and almost over schedule, by substituting a daimler smartcar’s gas engine with the Tesla drive-train and battery. At which the company gained $70 million.
“You want to be extra rigorous about making best possible thing you can, find everything that’s wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends” – Elon Musk
Elon’s Financial Crisis
Musk faced the worst crisis of his career, all 3 of his companies were collapsing. Things that appeared unneeded had to be closed down. Musk had to lay off almost 1/3 of his staff and close Tesla’s branch in Detroit.
‘SolarCity‘ began staggering, the bank that had backed their leases, pulled out of the deal.
Musk was in the fight of his life. With only a week’s worth of cash in the bank. There was little time to resolve. Musk never thought it was possible to have a nervous breakdown. Forced into only one direction, in hopes of keeping his empire afloat, Elon decided to raise $40 million to keep the company going out of his own pocket to keep the dream alive.
After six years of funding and advancing his companies, the fourth launch through SpaceX was a great success.
NASA decided to team up with Elon and fund ‘SpaceX’ for a $1.6 billion contract. Much to the publics surprise, Elon managed to pull through with An unexpected and heroic recovery.
Entrepreneurs and other company workers starved to see ‘Tesla Motors‘ fail due to the company’s products being seen as an attack on mainstream vehicles. Musk launched the electric cars to the public, which had the public and other companies in doubt of the success of ‘Tesla Motors‘. Poll votes and TV hosts belittled Tesla cars and told the public they weren’t worth buying.
But Elon did not care and decided to push through to make it happen. He released an offering to the Public in 2010 for Tesla, and was granted a place in the stock market, there hadn’t been an IPL since Henry Ford and the net-worth grew to $2 billion. This courageous move put faith in other companies to finance and produce electric cars.
Fun Elon Musk Fact:
Jon Favreau, the director of the movie “Iron Man” decided to base Robert Downy Jr’s character off the real life billionaire inventor Elon Musk, and to show his appreciation, he even invited Elon for a short cameo appearance in Iron Man II.
Most of Elon’s innovative ideas and visions became true. His learning curves from failure and loss, didn’t vanquish his visions and amazing goals for the future. Elon Musk never seizes to dream big, whether it be travelling to the moon or Mars to changing the way that we drive and operate cars, or creating sustainable energy, changing the culture and technology of the commerce businesses, to financing dreams of space travel in advancing what was forty decades out of date.
Elon Musk continues to pursue his goals to change humanity and live up to the expectations he set for himself in risk taking and self-confidence. Even when years of effort seems to be a loss in the moment. He believes that his success still will prevail.
What a Legend!
Elon Musk Picture Quote
Feature Image Courtesy of Wired