Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla: the future is already here

Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla: the future is already here
Elon Musk. Picture: vanityfair.com

Elon Musk – his name is familiar not only to people who are interested in high technology. Anyone who opened news sites or looked through newspaper pages has heard about this man.

A successful entrepreneur and investor, engineer, inventor and philanthropist, he is open to communication with the press and leads an active public life. He is considered one of the most influential people of the 21st century, and Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at 10.7 billion. Musk earned his fortune through his hard work and good entrepreneurial thinking.

Brief biography of Elon Musk

Early years

Born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria (South Africa) in the family of engineer Errol Musk and model and nutritionist Maya Musk. The eldest of three children: he has a brother, Kimbel, and a sister, Tosca. Parents divorced in 1980.

At the age of 9, he received his first Commodore VIC-20 computer as a gift and became interested in programming.

Commodore VIC-20
Commodore VIC-20

Already at the age of 12, the boy made money from his hobby – a local magazine about computer technology bought his video game Blastar in the space shooter genre for $500.

He even had the idea of ​​starting his own arcade business, but the dream was not destined to come true due to the fact that he was unable to obtain official permission.

He spent his earnings wisely – he saw an advertisement in the newspaper for the sale of shares in a pharmaceutical company and decided to purchase several. This investment experience was successful – the investments brought dividends, and the young investor was a winner.


At school he was a withdrawn child, preferring loneliness to communication with peers. Even before reaching adulthood, he decided to emigrate to the United States, enroll in an American university, and then obtain US citizenship. However, it was not possible to immediately move to the States – he lived in Canada for several years, attending classes at Queens University (Kingston). In parallel with his studies, the young man worked in various low-skilled positions, sometimes barely making ends meet.

Elon Musk: biography of a man who seeks to colonize Mars
Elon Musk: biography of a man who seeks to colonize Mars

In 1992, he was able to fulfill his dream and moved to the States. He continued his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he completed his undergraduate studies in two fields – economics and physics. He wanted to continue his education at Stanford University, but dropped out of this prestigious university after starting classes, deciding to try his hand at business.

Starting a career

As a student and science fiction fan, he formulated for himself three main stages in the development of modern humanity – the Internet, renewable energy sources and space colonization. He planned to prove himself in each of the three directions.

First experience – Zip2

Zip2 was founded with his younger brother Kimbel and made them millionaires. The company developed software that allows newspapers and news publications to publish content on websites and offer additional paid services to readers. Well-known publications Pulitzer Publishing, The New York Times became clients. Three years later, Zip2 was acquired by PC manufacturer Compaq Computer Corporation for $307 million.

This period was not the easiest for the brothers: they had to work hard with no guarantee of success. Elon spent up to hundreds of hours a week working, lived in a rented office space, and cleaned up in the building across the street (unlike the office space, there was a shower).

The experience of running my own business has revealed the strong qualities of an entrepreneur – hard work, endurance, stress resistance, critical thinking, and the ability to make the right decisions. He later recalled that at the beginning of the development of the World Wide Web, few people managed to make money on it, and they were among the first to do so (in 1995).

X.Com and PayPal controversy

X.Com and controversy in PayPal

After that, he became involved in the field of electronic payments and created the X.Com system, which allows money transfers via email. It later merges with direct competitors Confinity and is later renamed PayPal Inc. Servicing electronic auctions and online stores brought good profits, and the system soon spread to eBay.

After the merger, management consisted of two teams that could not agree with each other, which led to constant conflicts. The result of one of these conflicts was the removal of Musk from the post of chief executive. However, he retained his stake in the shares, the business continued to develop dynamically, which in 2002 made it possible to receive 180 million from the sale of PayPal, which was bought by eBay.

In June 2017, Musk bought the X.Com domain. He tweeted that he has no plans for it, it’s just sentimental memories for now.

SpaceX rockets

The third company, founded in 2002, is a private developer of space technology. Its goal was to reduce flight costs tenfold and create reusable low-cost rockets. Reusable launch vehicles Falcon 1 and Falcon 9, the ship Dragon are the most famous developments that brought SpaceX a contract with NASA for 1.6 billion.

100 billion dollars were invested in its creation.

Space-X was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2008, but a contract signed with NASA in 2009 and investment from the US Department of Defense allowed them to continue operating. An expedition to Mars is planned for the 2020s.

Tesla and SolarCity

Tesla’s main activity is the production of electric vehicles, as well as stations for refueling electric cars, so-called “superchargers”, powered mainly by solar panels. The production volumes of electric vehicles are growing and they are becoming increasingly popular. For example, in Amsterdam, 167 Model S cars were purchased for a taxi service that delivers people from the airport, the price of each is 68 thousand euros.

Tesla: the path to success and global recognition of an automobile tycoon
Tesla: the path to success and global recognition of an automobile tycoon

70 million were invested in this ambitious project. Here the businessman faced the most difficult challenges of his career. For a long time he could not reach a positive balance sheet, which forced him to downsize his staff, personally take the CEO’s chair and find himself on the verge of bankruptcy during the financial crisis of 2008. However, after 2009, thanks to competent promotion and sufficient financial reserves, Tesla Motors managed to become profitable and Since then, it has been developing steadily, increasing its financial and economic indicators.

An interesting sales model is used using an online store, rather than a network of dealers. Demo sites allow you to test the product, but the purchase is still made through the website.

Founded in 2006, SolarCity‘s services include the design and installation of solar-to-electric power systems, energy efficiency services, and supercharger installations. As with electric cars, the main advantage here is the absence of harmful emissions.

Hyperloop Vacuum Train Idea

Literally, the name of the vacuum train Hyperloop translates as “hyperloop” and is a not yet implemented project of a vacuum train – high-speed transport moving in a vacuum or rarefied air at a speed 5-6 times higher than the speed of sound. This speed is achieved due to the absence of friction and air resistance.

The business plan was presented in 2012. Elon himself stated that he was not going to implement the idea, but soon more than 200 volunteers appeared who did not receive a salary and counted on profit if they were successful. They are united by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Hyperloop. Picture: sostav.ru

Another team, Hyperloop One, was formed by Uber investor Shervin Pishevar. In April 2017, it completed work on a test site for testing passenger capsules.

Ambitions and investments of Elon Musk

Elon considers the colonization of Mars to be his main ambition. Back in the early 2000s, he planned to send crops and animals to the Red Planet, but the price of launch vehicles made him think about the need to create his own transport.

Other current projects include the Gigafactory, which aims to build a huge factory for the production of lithium batteries.

Jacque Fresco – an outstanding scientist of our time
Jacque Fresco – an outstanding scientist of our time

The Musk Foundation supports engineering education, DNA research, clean technology, and renewable energy with monetary grants. Previously, this is the functioning of the human brain, space exploration. From 2014 to the present day, artificial intelligence research has been a priority topic.

In 2014, 40 million was allocated to the secret startup Vicarious, which relates to this area. 10 million invested in the volunteer organization Future of Life Institute, which studies the threats posed by artificial intelligence and searches for mechanisms to “mitigate the risk” of interaction with AI.

Neuralink also falls into the field of AI research. Its basis is the development of devices that allow a person to take advantage of the capabilities of software to improve memory or provide direct contact with technology.

Unique training system

How is it possible that one person develops so successfully in several directions at once, and achieves incredible success everywhere? Elon Musk has achieved excellent results in many areas:

  • Aerospace technology
  • Energy
  • Software
  • Transport

All this requires the knowledge of a true expert. There is an opinion that in order to achieve outstanding success, you need to concentrate on studying and developing in only one direction. But Elon Musk brilliantly refutes this opinion. He became a professional in:

  • Engineering
  • Physicists
  • Rocket Science
  • In the structure of aircraft
Jeff Bezos: biography of the founder of Amazon
Jeff Bezos: biography of the founder of Amazon

And also studied:

  • Solar energy
  • Creation of artificial intelligence

He achieved these successes thanks to his unique ability to transfer acquired knowledge from one area to another, combine it and use it in his work.

By gaining knowledge that no other specialist possesses, you can create innovative projects, be the first and the best. This is the advantage of geniuses who create the latest technologies and drive progress.

Elon Musk’s ability to combine skills

According to the stories of Elon Musk’s brother, Kimbal, Musk studied 2 books every day, in different directions, at first these were books on:

  • Science fiction
  • Religions
  • Philosophies
  • Programming

Next, he began to study the biographies of famous engineers and scientists, as well as entrepreneurs. As he grew older, he became interested in technical developments and advanced technologies in business, energy and physics. The thirst for new information allowed him to study what was not taught at school or university.

Basic principles

Elon Musk follows principles that help him master the ability to transfer skills across different fields. According to him, he adheres to three rules:

  1. Parsing knowledge into fundamental components. Elon Musk explains the operation of this principle as follows: “Imagine that knowledge is a tree. The trunk and the largest branches are the very basic principles that must be carefully studied and understood. And the leaves of a tree are parts that must be disassembled only after understanding the fundamental principles.”
  2. Difference Finding is a technique by which people can intuitively understand underlying principles. The essence of the method is to study new material using several different approaches, to understand each of them and compare the differences.
  3. Use acquired skills in a new area – the meaning of this step is to transfer the principles obtained from the study of individual sciences to a completely different area.
Elon Musk
Elon Musk. Picture: entrepreneur.com

Elon Musk, studying artificial intelligence, technology, engineering and physics, applied the fundamental principles and knowledge gained in other areas:

  • In aerospace – creating its third company, which is a developer of launch vehicles and an operator of space systems – SpaceX;
  • In the automotive industry – when creating the Tesla company;
  • In the structure of trains, creating a Hyperloop;
  • In aviation – by designing and creating electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically;
  • In neurotechnology – having learned to increase the brain’s capacity to input and output information;
  • In the latest technologieswith the launch of OpenAI and the creation of PayPal.

Advice given by Elon Musk

His advice will help you learn how to achieve such success and benefit from the experience of a genius.

Combine multiple tasks

When you have to work 18 hours every day, you need to make the most of every minute, as Musk does. While reading reports, he simultaneously answers letters, especially when the answer requires looking at the report that is currently in front of his eyes. He prefers to have lunch during meetings, without wasting time on breaks.

Work, don’t make noise

His electric vehicle company doesn’t spend money on advertising. Elon Musk firmly believes that a perfect product advertises itself: “You shouldn’t spend money on something that doesn’t make the product you create better.” “No advertising company can sell a bad product,” says Musk.

Keep feedback

Every business owner wants to know that people like their product and hear people praise it. But Musk believes that this will only bring harm: “Criticism is not always pleasant, but the company will only benefit from it.” He has created an atmosphere of openness and trust in his environment, and he constantly consults with people to find out their opinions. One of the best pieces of advice Musk gave was: “Constantly ask yourself questions, think about how you can do things better.”

Manage your time wisely

Musk plans his time carefully. His schedule does not include breaks and rest. His assistants enter even five-minute intervals into his diary. Working a full week, seven days a week, 90 hours a day, he manages to devote time to his children and work at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to make risky decisions

When making a decision, the main thing is to consider all the risks. If you are unsure whether to take the next step, plan it. By drawing up a plan, outlining each subsequent action, you can understand what remains to be done and how achievable the goal is.

Properly selected personnel is the key to a successful business

By interviewing every engineer personally, Musk only wants to work with extraordinarily talented people who do things as well as he does. Possessing the ability to squeeze the maximum possible out of his employees, he has found an approach to people that allows them to take on responsibilities themselves and then complete the work with high quality and on time.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk. Picture: rollingstone.com

By not prioritizing a candidate’s education, although he selects graduates from top universities, Musk prioritizes their abilities and how they have been able to benefit from them in the past.

Under his leadership, every person becomes capable of the impossible and is the creator of history. After all, the demands that he places on others are the same as those that he places on himself.

In her book about Elon Musk, Ashley Vance writes: “To an outsider, such a position seems reckless, but this is Musk’s philosophy, it is what pushes him and those around him to reach their limit.”

He is never satisfied with the results of his work – his own or those around him, and when working with him, you must be prepared for situations that are uncomfortable for yourself. But it is getting out of your comfort zone that allows you to grow without stopping there and doing the impossible.

Interesting facts about Elon Musk

  • At a certain period in my life I lived on 1 dollar a day, with millions in my account. It was an experiment to find out whether he could live on such a paltry amount of money if his ideas failed in the market.
  • Even though he is the CEO, he is often involved in the production process, using the skills of an engineer. Sometimes he stays overnight at work and keeps a sleeping bag in his office.
  • Appeared in films several times, and the image of Iron Man in Marvel films is based on a businessman.