A LOOK AT
The Life and Lies of Elon Musk
“Fly me to the moon
Let me play among the stars
Let me see what spring is like on
A-Jupiter and Mars” -Frank Sinatra
The Elon Musk we see today is the middle-aged billionaire outlier of numerous companies. The guy who is changing the world in a different way with each of his new ventures. The guy who is at the pinnacle of success. The guy whom no one can touch. Things haven’t been all sunshine and rainbows for him all his life. He has had one of the most eventful and bizarre lives on this planet.
Childhood: The story of Elon Reeve Musk starts in South Africa. The world was blessed with Elon’s presence on 28th June 1971. His father was a wealthy engineer and his mother a Canadian model. Unfortunately, their marriage was short-lived resulting in a divorce when Elon was 10 years old. Elon was bullied a lot in school. When the people who had been around him recall how Elon was in his childhood they talk about a boy who would be in his own world all the time. At a young age of 12, Elon had made a videogame that achieved much popularity in the locality he lived in. It was called BLASTER. This marked the birth of the imaginative creator in Elon.
Education: At age 17, in 1989, Musk moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University and avoid mandatory service in the South African military. Musk obtained his Canadian citizenship that year, in part because he felt it would be easier to obtain American citizenship via that path.
In 1992, Musk left Canada to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed for a second bachelor’s degree in physics.
After leaving Penn, Musk headed to Stanford University in California to pursue a PhD in energy physics. However, his move was timed perfectly with the Internet boom, and he dropped out of Stanford after just two days to become a part of it. Musk became a U.S. citizen in 2002.
Ventures: He then started his first company in the year 1995 when the dot-com boom had just begun. His younger brother Kimbal was the co-founder of the company. It was called Global Link Information Network and then later renamed as ZIP2. They convinced small businesses like restaurants, shops, etc to get on the internet. The revenue source is the pay they got in return for making a website for that business. With the investor’s money, Elon bought his first luxury car, a Jaguar e-type.
“It kept breaking down and would arrive at the office on a flatbed. But Elon always thought big.” — Kimbal Musk.
At ZIP2 Musk’s narcissistic and power-seeking side started to show. Musk was still very young but his yearning to be a leader and CEO was pretty evident. He saw himself as the perfect boss but many of his employees thought otherwise.
In 1999 Compaq Computer felt the need for enhancing its Altavista web search engine. They bought ZIP2 for a whopping 307 million dollars of which Elon got 22 million and Kimbal got 15 million. All of the money was received in cash. The dot-com bubble burst in the year 2001. Elon had gotten extremely lucky. He had started his company during the boom and left just before the burst with his pockets more heavier than he could ever imagine.
Elon bought a Mclaren F1, of which there were only 62 made and was the fastest car of that time. He would use it as an everyday car and crashed it one day while racing with his friends. He couldn’t stop himself from bursting into laughter. It was uninsured.
Elon invested most of his earnings from ZIP2 in X.com that would later be rebranded as Paypal. The founders of the company are famously known as the PayPal mafia. All 12 of them went on to create earth-shattering products and companies in the future. Paypal was sold at 1.5 billion dollars of which Musk made 180 million.
Of these 180 million, he put 100 million in SpaceX, 70 million in Tesla Motors and 10 million in Solar City. SpaceX is now the leading brand in reusable space technology. Musk had to face a lot of failures before getting here. Most of the initial rockets burst midair and the company revenue and image plummeted.
It was very difficult finding investors for such an idealistic and what some might say impractical company. Once Elons friends and well-wishers compiled a video of every rocket that has ever burst to keep him from launching another one. But he did it anyway.
“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” -Elon
We all are well aware of the strides Tesla has taken in the electric vehicle industry. Elon Musk’s other ventures like Solar City, the Boring Company, Starlink, Hyperloop are all known for their unique contributions to their respective industries.
Love Life: One can call Elon’s love life tragic and turbulent. Musk married his long-time girlfriend Justine Wilson but then later they got divorced. He married, divorced, remarried, and then divorced the actress Talulah Riley. He also dated Johnny Depp’s ex-girlfriend Amber Heard for a while.
Connect with literature: Musk is a voracious reader. He admits that most of the knowledge he uses to run his ventures he has gathered simply by picking up a book on the topic. Musk attributes his success to the popular science fiction book ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams.
“It taught me that the tough thing is figuring out what questions to ask, but that once you do that, the rest is really easy. I came to the conclusion that we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.” -Elon
Beliefs: Elon believes that AI is the biggest threat to humankind right now. Here are some of his thoughts:
“With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon. In all those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram and the holy water, it’s like yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon. Doesn’t work out.”
Thoughts on the existence of extraterrestrial life:
“It’s probably more likely than not, but that’s a complete guess.”
In context to the fermi paradox: “The absence of any noticeable life may be an argument in favor of us being in a simulation. Like when you’re playing an adventure game, and you can see the stars in the background, but you can’t ever get there. If it’s not a simulation, then maybe we’re in a lab and there’s some advanced alien civilization that’s just watching how we develop, out of curiosity, like mould in a Petri dish.”
Death Wishes: Elon Musk is much alive and very well. But still, here are some of his death wishes:
“I would like to die on Mars,” he said. “Just not on impact.”
On SpaceX, after he is gone: “I’ve thought about that quite a lot,” he told Aeon. “I’m trying to construct a world that maximizes the probability that SpaceX continues its mission without me.”
“I just don’t want it to be controlled by some private equity firm that would milk it for near-term revenue. That would be terrible.”
Elon Musk’s life will surely go down in history as the most influential one of the 21st century. His contribution to the human race is so immense that it cannot be ignored even if tried to.
“He does what he wants, and he is relentless about it. Its Elon’s world and the rest of us live in it.”-Justine Wilson (Elon Musk’s ex-wife)
-written by Atharva Sangle