From humble origins in South Africa to the coveted Bel Air LA address, Musk’s journey is one of curiosity, determination and the desire to pioneer and innovate to make the world better. As his mother Maye, the British model, dietician and businesswoman reveals, Elon’s seemingly introverted nature actually made her suspect that he was deaf, and might perhaps have been bullied at school. However, it appears that the seclusion gave him time to think about how to fix the world.
Elon moved to Canada at age 17. After his undergraduate study at Ontario’s Queen’s University in 1992, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania for his Bachelor’s in Physics, and a Bachelor’s in Economics from the Wharton School. By 1995, and the age of 24, Musk had three specific battlegrounds to conquer – the Internet, sustainable and renewable energy, and outer space.
Zip2 was Musk’s first venture which he set up with his brother Kimbal. The web software company created an online city guide for newspaper publishers. Four years later Zip2 was acquired by Compaq and Musk made himself richer by $22 million, receiving 7% of the sale amount.
That gave him the capital to cofound X.com, which began as an Internet financial services company. In 2000 X.com merged with security software company Confinity which ran PayPal, the money transfer service. The merger between X.com and Confinity was named PayPal in 2001 and Musk became its largest shareholder. The company became the world’s largest Internet payment processing company. When eBay acquired PayPal in October 2002, it was worth US$1.5 billion, and Musk received $165 million from the acquisition.
Musk had now entered the big league. His early businesses were worthy enough to attract huge prices when being sold, and he had become a millionaire. However, in an interview Musk revealed that he was disappointed that space travel hadn’t taken off much since the moon journey. There was no colony on the moon and there was no human sent to Mars. Space Exploration was still a far-fledged dream.
Musk seemed to realize that it was the cost, not the will, that kept the government and people from encouraging such attempts. He figured out that there had to be a way of doing things in a more cost-effective manner and hit upon the idea of reusable rockets.
Musk founded SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) in 2002 with the intention of presenting more affordable space travel.