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Elon Musk

Elon Musk biography
Photo: JD Lasica / CC BY 2.0

Elon Musk biography

Elon Reeve Musk was born on the 28th of June of 1972 in Pretoria, South Africa. He is known for being one of the founders of Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, OpenAl, and Hyperloop, among other companies. The entrepreneur and inventor appears in the list of the richest in the world, occupying the position number 56, in 2017, with 17.4 billion dollars. Forbes magazine, for the December 2016 publication, named him the 21st person with the most power in the world. His greatest goal, according to Musk, is to change humanity drastically; for this purpose, he works in SolarCity, SpaceX, and Tesla. One of his interests is the abandonment of petroleum fuels in order to reduce global warming. Perhaps Elon’s most ambitious project, so far, is the establishment of a human colony on Mars, with nearly a million people.

He spent his childhood in South Africa with his parents, an engineer from South Africa and a nutritionist from Canada. At age 10, with his first computer, a Commodore VIC-20, he began to learn to programme on his own. Two years later he sold his first videogame called Blastar for about $ 200. At that time he went through difficult times; his schoolmates subjected him to bullying because of his uncommon interests for them. Elon spent his money on science fiction books, comics, and video games.

In the period between 12 and 15 years of age, he entered into an existential crisis influenced by the readings of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. The situation went to the extreme of taking him to the hospital because of beatings by his companions. In his home things were not better, the relationship with his father was quite complicated. He suffered the emotional violence of a father unable to understand him. Compulsory military service bothered him. For these reasons, at age 17, after graduating from high school in Pretoria, he decided to leave South Africa and take refuge with his mother in Canada.

What Musk wanted most was to reach the United States. He found in that country a way to make possible everything he imagined. Elon’s father conditioned his support: he would not pay for a university outside of South Africa. In 1989, while in Canada, he found a chance to study thanks to his maternal relatives, who came from North America. By 1992, Elon counted on a scholarship in the University of Pennsylvania. The young entrepreneur began his studies in Business Administration, in parallel he began his career in Physics. He was fortunate to have the support of one of his teachers, who turned out to be the executive director of Los Gatos, a company located in the southern part of San Francisco Bay, California. The experience gained on ultracapacitors in that company, and then in Pinnacle Research, along with the inspiration it had for inventors such as Nikola Tesla, made him define the fields in which he would focus on the future: renewable energy, the Internet and outer space.

The beginning on the Internet began with Zip2, in 1995, along with his brother Kimbal Musk and a friend named Greg Curry. The company was dedicated to the development and maintenance of web pages dedicated to the media. The idea was a success, managing around 200 sites on the Internet in the year of 1999. For that year the company was sold to Compaq for 300 million dollars; money that would help him found X.com. The next plan was to systematize payments and money management through the Internet, offering security and speed. The ease offered by X.com and security made the project a very profitable idea, as well as merging, in 2000, with Confinity; company that provided a similar service, but only between Palm Pilot devices. In 2001 X.com decided to change its name to Paypal.inc a well-known company that provides the service to make online payments internationally.

With the growing success, problems soon appeared. Different companies tried to close Paypal, including eBay, which ended up buying it in October 2002, for 1.5 billion dollars. The sale of Paypal gave way to the creation, by its former members, of companies such as LinkedIn and YouTube. The next Musk project was called Tesla Motors, the company that created the first functional electric car. The main investment in Tesla was solar energy. The idea was born in 2003 in the company AC Propulsion, which had a prototype electric car. Musk wanted to help design a sports car with the same base of AC Propulsion.

In 2004, along with Matt Tappenhig and Martin Eberhard, Tesla Motors was created, with the intention of mass producing the model T-Zero of AC Propulsion. Musk invested nearly 98% of the capital. The start of the company was hard; the budget for the first models exceeded what was expected, but they managed to sell enough to continue developing models. For 2012, 2100 Tesla Roadster was sold in different countries. In 2015 the Tesla Model X was launched, designed to cover all types of terrain.

Another of Musk’s three projects involves SpaceX. Thinking of establishing a colony on Mars, he began, in 2002, to investigate how to send a rocket to Mars. His initial idea was to obtain reusable rockets to carry out the two trips for reconnaissance missions. For that year, Space Exploration Technologies was founded, focused on launching rockets and reducing fuel costs and materials for launch with increases in viability. In 2008, an agreement was made between NASA for twelve rocket flights. Currently, SpaceX is responsible for the development of Falcon rockets, which use liquid fuel.

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