Elon Musk

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Elon Musk

Born June 28, 1971 (1971-06-28) (age 37)
South Africa
Residence Bel-Air, California
Education B.A. in Economics and Physics from University of Pennsylvania
Occupation entrepreneur
Net worth $328 million
Known for co-founder of PayPal, SpaceX
Title CEO and CTO of SpaceX
Chairman of SolarCity
CEO of Tesla Motors
Spouse(s) Justine Musk (separated)
Children five sons

Elon Musk (born 28 June 1971) is an entrepreneur and a co-founder of SpaceX. He was an early investor in PayPal. He is chairman of Tesla Motors and SolarCity.


[edit] Early life

Musk was born and raised in South Africa, the son of a South African engineer and a Canadian mother[1] who works as a New York City dietitian[2] and models.[3] His father inspired his love of technology and Musk bought his first computer at age 10 and taught himself how to program;[1] by the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software, a space game called Blaster.[1]

After matriculating at Pretoria Boys High School he left home in 1988 at the age of 17, without his parents' support,[2] and in part because of the prospect of compulsory service in the South African military: "I don't have an issue with serving in the military per se, but serving in the South African army suppressing black people just didn't seem like a really good way to spend time."[1] He wanted to move to the US, saying: "It is where great things are possible. I am nauseatingly pro-American."[3] He emigrated from South Africa and traveled to Kingston, Ontario where he enrolled at Queen's University,[3] scraping by on as little as $1 a day[1] with part-time and summer jobs.[3] He then was given financial aid to attend the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "Tuition costs are outrageous ... Fortunately, they gave me a scholarship ... so I only had to cover living expenses, books, etc., by working."[3] From Wharton he received an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed on another year to finish a second bachelor's degree in physics.[2][4] His undergraduate degrees behind him, Musk then considered three areas he wanted to get into that were "important problems," as he said later. "One was the Internet, one was clean energy, and one was space."[1]

[edit] Entrepreneurial activities

In 1995, Musk went on to a graduate program in high energy physics at Stanford, in which he stayed exactly two days before dropping out to start Zip2,[2] with his brother Kimbal Musk which provided online content publishing software for news organizations. In 1999, Compaq's AltaVista division acquired Zip2 for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options.[5]

In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and email payments company.[2] One year later, X.com merged with Confinity, originally a company formed to beam money between Palm Pilots,[6] and the combined entity focused on email payments through the PayPal domain, acquired as part of Confinity. In February 2001, X.com changed its legal name to PayPal. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock.[7] Before its sale, Musk, the company's largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal's shares.[8]

Elon Musk (left) at Tesla Motors. Photo by Erik Charlton

In June 2002, Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), of which he is currently the CEO and CTO. SpaceX develops and manufactures space launch vehicles, with an emphasis on low cost and high reliability. The company's first two launch vehicles are the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets.

In addition to his business activities in entrepreneurial space, Musk is the principal owner and CEO of Tesla Motors, which builds a high-end luxury electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, and plans to produce a more economical four door electric sedan.[9] He is also the primary investor and Chairman of the Board of SolarCity, a photovoltaics products and services startup company where his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO.[10] [11] The underlying motivation for funding both companies is to help combat global warming.[12]

Musk's fortune was estimated at US$328 million in 2005.[13]

[edit] Philanthropy

[edit] Non-space-related activities

Musk is Chairman of the Musk Foundation, which focuses its philanthropic efforts on science education, pediatric health, and clean energy.

[edit] Space-related activities

In 2001, Musk had plans for a "Mars Oasis" project, which would land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith.[14] He put this project on hold when he discovered that launch costs would dwarf the mission development and construction costs for the project, and decided to work on lowering launch costs by founding SpaceX. His long term goal is that SpaceX helps humanity become a true spacefaring civilization.

Musk is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board, a Director of the Planetary Society and a Trustee of The X-Prize Foundation.

In 2005, Musk acquired a 10% share of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), a world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of high-performance small satellites, majority owned by the University of Surrey. That share will be sold as part of the EADS acquisition of SSTL.

[edit] Interests

Musk owned a McLaren F1 sports car that he purchased for approximately $1 million and sold in 2007 for $1.5 million, and a Czech-built Aero L-39 trainer worth approximately $250,000.[15] The 1994 model Dassault Falcon 900 aircraft used in the film, Thank You for Smoking (Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2006) is registered to Musk (N900SX). Musk is listed as an Executive Producer of the film.[16]

Musk owns a Tesla Roadster car 0001 (the first one off the production line) from Tesla Motors, a company in which he is an early investor. The Roadster is a battery electric sportscar with a claimed 220 mile range.[17]

[edit] Education

[edit] Family

Musk lives in Bel-Air, California, with his fiancee, the British actress Talulah Riley.[18]

With his ex-wife, the Canadian-born author Justine Musk (whom he met while both were students at Queen's University), he has five sons. On September 13, 2008 Justine posted a notice on her blog that the two were terminating their nine-year marriage. The blog, moschus.livejournal.com, partially read, "I am getting divorced. We had a good run. We married young, took it as far as we could and now it is over. That's about all I can say for now, other than that it was a very sad and very necessary decision."

Elon Musk's sister Tosca Musk is the founder of Musk Entertainment and producer of various movies.[19][20] Elon himself was the executive producer of her first movie, called Puzzled.[21] Elon Musk's brother Kimbal Musk is the CEO of a social search company OneRiot and owner of The Kitchen restaurant in Boulder, Colo.

[edit] Controversies

After Elon Musk had confirmed an earlier report[22] that Tesla Motors only had $9 million cash in bank[23], he was reported to hire an outside IT contractor go through the company's email and instant messages then had an investigator take fingerprints off a printout discarded near a copier used to leak the email. The email implicatated employee Peng Zhou as the source of the company's status. Even after Musk ordered Zhou to confess and apologize to the entire company, Zhou was fired (despite the information the alleged leaker was a 4-year employee and Peng Zhou had only worked for the company for 2 years at the time).[24]

After firing Zhou from Tesla Motors, Elon Musk was reported attempting to catch employees who leak corporate secrets, without prior knowledge by other Tesla Motors executives, by sending each employee a slightly altered version of a memo which Musk expected would get sent to the media. The plan backfired when general counsel Craig Harding forwarded his own personalized copy of the memo along with a new, stricter nondisclosure agreement mentioned in the memo to other employees nullifying the entrapment plan.[25]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Michael Belfiore. Rocketeers. HarperCollins, 2007. ISBN 978-0-06-114902-3 - see chapter 7 "Orbit on a Shoestring" pp. 166-195.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Fast Track", by Mark Gimein, Salon.com, August 17, 1999
  3. ^ a b c d e Halvorson, Todd (2005-01-29). "Elon Musk Unveiled". Florida Today. http://web.archive.org/web/20070928230012/http://www.benup.com/media.php?page=36. Retrieved on 2008-12-20. 
  4. ^ "Entrepreneur Tries His Midas Touch in Space". Los Angeles Times. 2007-04-22. http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2003/030422-space01.htm. 
  5. ^ Compaq buys Zip2 by Sandeep Junnarkar, CNet News.com.com, February 16th, 1999
  6. ^ "PayPal Puts Dough in Your Palm", by Karlin Lillington, Wired News, July 27, 1999
  7. ^ EBay SEC 10-K (PDF format) December 31, 2002
  8. ^ Paypal SEC 10-K, December 31, 2001
  9. ^ Musk steps in as CEO, from the New York Times.
  10. ^ SolarCity Management Team
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "The unveiling of the Tesla Motors Electric Car", video from "Autoblog.com" via YouTube. Retrieved 2006-07-26
  13. ^ "Hondas in Space", FastCompany.com, Issue 91, February 2005, Page 74, By Jennifer Reingold
  14. ^ "Elon Musk, Life to Mars Foundation", from Mars Now, a weekly column by John Carter McKnight of the Space Frontier Foundation, September 25, 2001
  15. ^ "A Bold Plan to Go Where Men Have Gone Before", by Leslie Wayne, The New York Times, February 5, 2006
  16. ^ "Thank You For Smoking (2005) - Full cast and crew", IMDB
  17. ^ Tesla Motors - press room
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ Musk entertainment
  20. ^ Tosca Musk on IMDb
  21. ^ Elon Musk on IMDb
  22. ^ Tesla Motors has $9 million in the bank, may not deliver cars
  23. ^ Tesla CEO admits his carmaker's running out of cash
  24. ^ Tesla CEO in Digital Witch Hunt
  25. ^ Elon Musk reportedly sets trap for loose lipped Tesla employees

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