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10 Intriguing Facts About Elon Musk

Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March eleven, 2018, in Austin, Texas.
Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW

If there’south such a matter as a real-life Batman or Fe Man, it could exist Elon Musk. And if at that place’south a flesh-and-claret Lex Luthor, well, that might exist Musk, too. This uber-intelligent 49-year-old Due south African isn’t but one of the richest people on Earth, he’s a forrard-thinking futurist made for the millennium [source: Forbes].

Musk has always been a homo in a bustle. He taught himself computer programming as a kid and at the age of 17, he moved all the style to Canada for university before heading south to Pennsylvania to become his economic science caste. After that he decided to pursue a Ph.D. in applied physics [source: Mkhitaryan].

Only grad school wasn’t really Musk’s thing. So instead, he founded his first tech company, which made him a millionaire by age 28. And so he started another visitor — and another — amassing millions and and then
of dollars in wealth forth the way. Robert Downey Jr. has said he based his “Iron Man” movie character Tony Stark on Musk [source: Hern].

Just money arguably isn’t Musk’s main motivation. He says he wants to evolve the human race. He envisions a future with high-efficiency mass transportation, electric cars and super-efficient sustainable energy production. He also blasts his technology concepts right into outer space, and ultimately, perhaps one day fifty-fifty to Mars. And he’s on his style to making some of those dreams a reality.

In April 2021, NASA chose SpaceX’s Orion spacecraft to take next the American astronauts to the moon. The SpaceX Falcon 9 Crew Dragon as well sent astronauts to infinite from the U.South. Nov. xv, 2020 — the first time since the end of the shuttle era. And the Starship SN15 prototype rocket, which SpaceX is developing to launch people and cargo to the moon, had a successful loftier-altitude test flight and landing May 5, 2021, which was historic to say the least.

Just while his rocketing professional life seems otherworldly, Musk’south tempestuous personal life makes him seem less than superhuman. His rocky relationships and tragedies are as convoluted and messy. Not to mention his penchant for saying controversial things in person and on Twitter. Make no mistake, this conceiver of Hyperloops and reusable rockets is anything just typical. Here are ten fascinating facts about this mortal manifestation of Iron Man.

ten: A Boy Raised by Books

Maye Musk, Elon Musk
Elon Musk and his mother Maye attend the 2017 Vanity Off-white Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 26, 2017, in Beverly Hills.
C Flanigan/Getty Images

Born in South Africa, Musk is the offspring of Maye, a Canadian nutritionist and model, and Errol, a Southward African engineer. His parents, however, rarely did much parenting, instead leaving bones child-rearing to a housekeeper. The man himself says that books — stacks and stacks of them — were his constant companions every bit a child [source: Strauss].

After his parents divorced in 1980, his blood brother and sis chose to remain with his mother, while Musk stayed with his father. Subsequently, he realized that his dad was a “terrible homo being,” one with a reputation for ruthlessness. Errol Musk had shot three intruders dead in self-defence force — and was acquitted of manslaughter. He as well fathered a child with his own step-girl. In spite of his personal shortcomings, Elon’s male parent was likewise a proficient engineer, 1 who passed forth many central lessons on electricity, structure and science to his young son [sources: Chung, Crilly].

At the age of 12, Musk programmed his own calculator game, called Blastar, which he sold to a calculator magazine for a few hundred dollars. That set up the tone for much of his future professional life [source: Mack].

Until his teens, the boy’southward small size and introverted nature fabricated him a target for bullying; once he was beaten and then badly he was rendered unconscious. The bullying only stopped when he learned to fight back. It’south no wonder, then, that he fled South Africa (in part to contrivance mandatory war machine service in a country split by apartheid) for university in Canada at 17. And that’s when he began to flower in incredible ways [source: Strauss].

9: Higher Dropout to Millionaire

Kimbal Musk
Elon’s brother, Kimbal Musk, speaks on stage at the WSJ The Future of Everything Festival at Spring Studios on May 9, 2018, in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Musk earned degrees in economic science and physics from the Academy of Pennsylvania, which he paid for by turning his rented 10 sleeping accommodation frat business firm into a nightclub on weekends. In 1995, he traveled to Stanford University in California to chase a Ph.D. in applied physics, but later on merely two days, he dropped out of his classes to go an entrepreneur instead.

That same year, he and his brother Kimbal created Global Link Information Network, which provided online urban center guides to newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. These guides functioned similar internet versions of the yellow pages. Although his father claims the coin to start this company came from him, Musk says that it actually was from a group of angel investors [source: Strauss].

At first, life was anything merely glamorous, every bit the brothers essentially lived in their office in gild to go along their expenses equally low as possible. Reminiscing on those days, Musk told USC graduates in a 2014 start oral communication, “We showered at the YMCA and we were and then hard-upwardly that nosotros only had ane computer. The website was upwards during the day and I was coding information technology at dark, 7 days a week, all the time” [source: Huddleston].

Global Link was later renamed Zip2 and became a big success. In 1999, Compaq Computers saw so much potential that it bought the company for $300 meg. Musk’south share of the sale came to $xx million, plenty of seed money for his next, bigger thought [source: Hern].

8: Charter Member of The ‘PayPal Mafia’

A PayPal sign stands exterior the eBay Germany headquarters on Dec. 17, 2009, in Kleinmachnow, Federal republic of germany. Musk sold PayPal to eBay in 2002.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

A millionaire at simply 28, Musk used money from the sale of Zip2 to found, one of the world’s starting time online banks, in 1999. The service enabled a variety of financial tools, including payment without a credit carte du jour.

Because was perceived past some equally an adult-themed website, Musk changed the proper name of this company to subsequently it merged with rival Confinity. The new company doubled down on offering money transfer services via electronic mail and the web, and the business grew.

But during a disagreement over the technical aspects of PayPal (he wanted to movement the service to Windows from Linux), Musk was forced out of his position as CEO. He did remain on the board, all the same, and so when eBay bought PayPal in 2002 (over his objections) for a whopping $ane.5 billion in stock, he landed a windfall of almost $160 million after taxes [source: Kane].

Interestingly, many of the people who worked at PayPal in its early on days went on to plant other giants of the internet economy, including Yelp, LinkedIn and YouTube — and so much so, that the group is ofttimes referred to equally the “PayPal Mafia” [source: Parrish].

7: Wants to Put a Colony on Mars

Elon Musk, SpaceX, The Dragon V2
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk unveils the company’s new manned spacecraft, the Dragon V2, designed to carry astronauts into space during a news conference on May 29, 2014, in Hawthorne, California.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With PayPal out of the motion picture, Musk was free to pursue a (literally) high goal: space. And he had the coin to practise that. Disappointed that NASA had no plans for a manned mission to Mars, he dreamed up a project called Mars Oasis, which would create a greenhouse on the Crimson Planet. Equally part of that otherworldly concept, he co-founded SpaceX in 2002, a company meant to brand space travel more applied [source: Bierend].

SpaceX was built-in in part later on Musk did the math and realized that space missions would be much more affordable if someone could develop a dependable and reusable rocket arrangement. So, that’s exactly what he set out to practise. In 2020 alone, SpaceX flew a tape 26 missions, 22 of those using refurbished rockets. And it booked its first paying passenger to the moon in September 2018.

Musk intends to establish a self-sustaining colony on Mars ane day, just information technology appears going to the moon will be kickoff. SpaceX landed a $ii.89 billion contract with NASA to put the first astronauts on the moon in the 21st century, beating out rival visitor Bluish Origin.

6: Revolutionized the Automobile Industry

Tesla Roadster
The Tesla Roadster similar this one volition smoke a gas-powered vehicle. It has a top of 250 miles per hour, and can go 0 to 60 from start in 1.9 seconds.

Musk believes that humans must make the switch from a reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy or else we’ll exhaust our energy supplies, and as he puts it, “plunge into the dark ages” [source: Leary]. Similar many scientists, he warns well-nigh the dangers of ascent carbon dioxide levels due to the combustion of fossil fuels and subsequent global warming.

And he put his money where his mouth is. He co-founded Tesla in 2003, largely to guffaws from motorcar executives all over the earth. Musk’s dream was to build affordable cars that were emissions-free.

The Tesla Roadster (2008) was the beginning electronic vehicle to use lithium-ion battery cells and to have a range greater than 200 miles (320 kilometers) per charge. This spurred big automakers to come out with EVs of their own, like the Chevy Volt. In 2015, Tesla launched the offset semiautonomous car, a move many of the big automakers take emulated. Since then, Musk has said that Tesla models will have technology to exist fully driverless [source: Hawkins, Alvarez]. Tesla tin can also automatically update software in its cars without drivers having to make a trip to a dealership, something legacy automakers might find harder to exercise since they have a franchise system [source: Hawkins].

He delivered on affordability, too. Some models, similar the Model 3, now start at around $40,000 [source: Felton]. The visitor turned its showtime profitable quarter in 2013, although the next ane wouldn’t happen until 2016 [source: Urbi].

All the same, Tesla has also see bug with Musk, by and large regarding his tweeting. In 2018, a tweet by Musk suggesting he was taking the company private led to a $20 one thousand thousand fine by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulators and eventually led to him stepping down as chairman. The most contempo SEC filing showed his title every bit “Technoking of Tesla.”

v: Has a Son Named X Æ A-XII

Elon Musk, Grimes
Elon Musk and his girlfriend, singer Grimes, attend the Heavenly Bodies: Fashion & The Catholic Imagination Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2018 in New York Metropolis.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Musk met his first wife, Justine, when they were both enrolled at Queen’s University in Ontario. Every bit PayPal’s success multiplied, they married in 2000. Tragically, their first son, Nevada, died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when he was simply 10 weeks old.

The two eventually had children with the assistance of in vitro fertilization, which often produces multiple births. In the Musks’ case, it happened non once, but twice — kickoff they had twins in 2004, and so triplets in 2006, all boys.

Justine Musk, who published iii novels during this fourth dimension, wrote that her husband was manipulative and obsessed with his piece of work. In a Marie-Claire commodity, she wrote, “‘I am your wife,’ I told him repeatedly, ‘not your employee.’ ‘If you were my employee,’ he said only as often, ‘I would burn down you lot.'”

Following a messy divorce in 2008, Musk began a relationship with English extra Talulah Riley, and in 2010, the two married. Just ii years afterward, they divorced. In 2013, non simply did they reconcile, simply they got married once again. Perhaps not surprisingly, they divorced for the second fourth dimension in 2016 [source: Cain].

Later that year, Musk started some other high-profile relationship, this time with actress Amber Heard. That flame died in late 2017; the next yr Musk started dating pop star Grimes. Every bit of this writing, Musk and Grimes are nonetheless together raising their baby son, X Æ A-XII. (Yes, that’s his name. Musk says it is pronounced “Ten Ash A Twelve.” )

4: Merely Person to Starting time Four Billion-dollar Companies

George Lucas. Kanye West, Elon Musk
George Lucas, Kanye Westward and Elon Musk attend Fourth dimension’s 100 Most Influential People In The World gala at Jazz at Lincoln Center on Apr 21, 2015, in New York Urban center
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for TIME

What part of your trunk would yous be willing to lop off merely to come up with but a single million-dollar idea? Elon Musk is then business organisation-savvy that he’due south created or co-founded non i, non two, not three, but four companies that are worth more than $1 billion each: PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity.

SpaceX is valued at more than $74 billion, and some economist say Tesla’s valuation could soar to $1 trillion equally need for the EVs skyrocket in Red china. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016 for $two.six billion in stock. It was originally started by Musk’s cousins and he invested $10 million in it in 2006. SolarCity designs and sells solar panels for residential and commercial purposes. Both Tesla and Solar City share the goal of making sustainable free energy more practical and efficient [source: Carr].

Musk knows that charitable causes come with the territory of extreme wealth. He gave $15 million to the Global Learning program, which is meant to help unprivileged children around the world boost basic skills in reading and math [source: Zaidi].

In the wake of the terrible 2017 Hurricane Maria, he sent huge battery systems that can be powered with solar panels to bring electricity back to Puerto Rico. He also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own cash to the cause.

And he’s joined the ranks of filthy-rich folks who commit to philanthropy. He signed the Giving Pledge, an idea conjured past billionaire investor Warren Buffett, meant to spur more charitable donations. Signing the Giving Pledge means agreeing to leave at least 50 percentage of your wealth to charity either during your lifetime or in your will [source: Zaidi].

iii: He’s a Hard Worker — and a Demanding Boss

International Astronautical Congress, Elon Musk
Musk speaks at the International Astronautical Congress in 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. He detailed the long-term technical challenges that need to exist solved in lodge to support the creation of a permanent, cocky-sustaining human presence on Mars.
Mark Restriction/Getty Images

By 2012, Musk’s net worth exceeded $1 billion for the first fourth dimension. These days, that number is well above $156.9 billion, putting him around the second richest person in the earth, though that fluctuates depending on things similar Tesla stock price. But Musk doesn’t parade around with enormous expensive personal purchases like yachts. Instead, he buries himself at the office, and he expects the same dedication from his employees, a fact that sometimes leads to controversy.

In Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk, he recounts a story near a longtime assistant who asked for a raise. Musk told her to accept two weeks off during which fourth dimension he would do her task and see how critical she really was to the team. When she returned, he told her he didn’t need her again. She was offered some other position, but left the company instead, no doubt insulted [source: Business Insider].

At Tesla, allegations of unfair low pay for workers, as well as unsafe working conditions, and mandatory overtime, have surfaced in recent years. Musk has refuted these allegations time and again [source: Lumb].

Workers at some Tesla facilities have attempted to unionize and Musk has been vocally against it. In fact, March 25, 2021, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Tesla violated labor laws and ordered the company to cease interfering with workers seeking to unionize at one of its plants. The violations stalk from the firing of Tesla production associate Richard Ortiz, who also was a union organizer, likewise equally a 2018 tweet from Musk that said: “Nothing stopping Tesla squad at our car plant from voting marriage. Could exercise so tmrw if they wanted. Merely why pay marriage dues & surrender stock options for zippo?” Some Tesla workers said they felt these were intimidation tactics meant to go on them from organizing.

2: Here Comes the Hyperloop

Hyperloop tube
Hyperloop tubes are displayed during the showtime test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop I Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016, in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The visitor plans to create a fully operational Hyperloop system by 2020.
David Becker/Getty Images

In 2013, with his quirky luminescence at pinnacle gear, Musk felt bold plenty to unveil the plans for his futuristic Hyperloop, a form of transportation dreamed up by the engineering teams at Tesla and SpaceX.

The Hyperloop concept, which is part of his The Dull Company, is essentially a train inside a big airtight tube. The so-called vactrain would haul people or cargo along a thin cushion of air thanks in function to electromagnets that suspend “capsules” above rails.

In one initial proposal, Musk said the Hyperloop might be used in heavily populated areas like Southern California, zipping people from San Francisco to Los Angeles at speeds budgeted 700 or 800 miles per hour (1,126 or one,287 kilometers per hour), drastically reducing travel times and dodging gridlock that plagues the highways. For case someone could go from San Francisco to LA in 85 minutes instead of the 6 hours it normally takes by car [source: Bradley].

Because Musk wants the idea to advance equally speedily as possible, he provided the Hyperloop’s plans as open up-source, gratis to anyone who wants to take the technologies and improve them.

Although some people wonder if this project is actually economically feasible, several companies, including Virgin Hyperloop, accept already made the idea a reality. In November 2020, two Virgin Atlantic employees took the first successful test ride on a hyperloop test facility well-nigh Las Vegas, and Virgin says it’s on track to make the hyperloop a reality.

ane: He’south Controversial on Twitter

Elon Musk
Elon Musk’s tweeting has gotten him in problem. Hither he is seen leaving federal courtroom in New York Apr 4, 2019, later on a the Securities and Commutation Commission and Musk’south lawyers presented their arguments over whether Musk should exist held in antipathy for tweets the bureau says violated an earlier agreement.
Natan Dvir/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Just similar Donald Trump, Elon Musk is famous — or infamous — for his provocative tweets. When the members of a boys’ soccer squad in Thailand were trapped in a cavern in July 2018, Musk had his engineers piece of work on transforming a liquid transfer tube from a SpaceX rocket into a type of child-sized submarine that could travel through the water in the cave. The Thai government found the vessel impractical, and a British cave diver heavily involved in the rescue endeavour called Musk’s submarine a “PR stunt.” Musk responded by tweeting that the diver was “a pedo guy” — in other words, a pedophile. After an uproar, Musk apologized [source: Chu]. Notwithstanding, the cavern diver sued him for libel [source: BBC].

A like, though more convoluted scenario happened early on in the coronavirus pandemic when Musk tweeted he’d delivered more than 1,000 ventilators to hospitals in California. Some hospitals never received them, and others received non-invasive BiPAP machines instead of traditional ventilators.

Then at that place were the tweets nigh Tesla’south stock nosotros mentioned. To recap, in Baronial 2018, Musk tweeted he was considering taking the company private at $420 a share and he had the funding secured. Right after that tweet, the Tesla stock toll went upward 11 percent so fell 7 percentage. 2 shareholders filed form activity lawsuits in Baronial 2018, saying Musk’s tweet was just a ploy to get the stock price to rise and mess with all the short sellers — people who bet the stock cost would fall and make money from buying at a lower toll [source: Wattles].

For these reasons, the Securities Exchange Committee (SEC) also filed suit for securities fraud, alleging that “in truth, Musk knew that the potential transaction was uncertain and subject field to numerous contingencies.” Musk, Tesla and the SEC came to a settlement without the company admitting or denying wrongdoing. He had to pay a $20 million fine, and Tesla had to pay an additional $xx 1000000 fine for non having “disclosure controls and procedures relating to Musk’s tweets.” This coin would be distributed to “harmed investors.” As we mentioned, Musk stepped down equally chairman for Tesla, though he remains CEO (or Technoking) [source: Ohnsman]. The company remains public.

Other targets of Musk’s ire have included unions, the press and certain scientists [source: Biba]. When asked most his Twitter attacks, Musk responded to a Bloomberg Businessweek journalist by maxim, “If yous’re on Twitter, you’re in the arena. And so essentially if yous attack me, it is therefore OK for me to attack back.” However, he conceded, “If somebody attacks you on Twitter, should you say nothing? Probably the answer in some cases is yep, I should say nothing. In fact, most of the time I do say nothing. I should probably say nothing more oftentimes.”

Originally Published: Oct 17, 2018

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