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Elon Musk is among the most famous and richest dollar billionaires worldwide. He was born in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 28, 1971 (Gregersen, 2022). Elon Musk was born to a South African father, an engineer, a Canadian mother, a nutritionist, and a model, who later divorced in 1980 (Gregersen, 2022). He joined Waterkloof House Preparatory and later graduated from Pretoria Boys High School. In 1988 he obtained a Canadian passport and left South Africa as he was against the apartheid system (Gregersen, 2022). In Canada, he enrolled at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. However, due to his urge to seek more significant economic opportunities in the United States, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania after two years of learning at Queen’s University (Gregersen, 2022). Musk graduated with a bachelor’s degree of science in physics and a bachelor’s degree of arts in economics from the Wharton School. He would later become one of the most successful entrepreneurs globally. Musk’s biography can best be explained from the perspectives of his personal life and entrepreneurial life.
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Elon Musk was born into a middle-class family and had a difficult childhood, especially after his parents` divorce in 1980 (Sherman, 2022). Following his parents’ separation, Musk mainly stayed with his father, who he describes as “a terrible human being” (Sherman, 2022). In his childhood, he had difficulties understanding social cues due to Asperger’s Syndrome (Sherman, 2022). Other students also bullied him, making his school life even more difficult. Nonetheless, Musk successfully went through high school and later joined Queen’s University in Canada. At Queen’s University, he met Justine Wilson, who became his first wife in 2000. Together they got five sons, twins and triplets, but later divorced in 2008 (Gregersen, 2022). After this separation, Musk married Tallulah Riley; however, this marriage also ended in a divorce. From 2018 to 2022, he was in a relationship with Canadian singer Claire Elise Boucher – famously known as Grimes – and together, they got a son in 2020 and a daughter in 2022 (Gregersen, 2022). Since he became a U.S. citizen in 2002, he has maintained his political independence, describing himself as half-Democrat and half-Republican.
At age 12, Musk showed his entrepreneurial skills when he started selling homemade chocolate Easter eggs with his brother (Gregersen, 2022). Since he got to the Silicon Valley scene more than twenty years ago, he has portrayed his entrepreneurial prowess to the world, exemplified by the various companies he founded or co-founded. In 1995, Musk founded Zip2, a firm that provided business directories and maps to online newspapers. This company would later be bought by Compaq, a computer manufacturer, in 1999 for $307 million (Gregersen, 2022). Musk used this money to start an online financial services company, X.com, that later merged with a money transfer firm, Confinity, resulting in a company known as PayPal (Gregersen, 2022). In 2002, PayPal was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion, with Musk getting 11.7% of the stake, which was equal to $180 million. According to Sherman (2022), out of this money, Musk invested $100 million into SpaceX, $ 10 million into SolarCity, and $70 million into Tesla.
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Musk was particularly interested in electric cars, and in 2004, he became the major financier of Tesla Motors, an electric car company founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning (Gregersen, 2022). The company was later renamed Tesla, introducing its first electric car, Roadster, in 2006. In 2007, Eberhard was ousted due to internal disagreements, and later, Musk became the firm’s CEO and product architect (TESLA, 2021). In 2012, Tesla introduced the Model S sedan, which was not fairly accepted in the market due to its design and performance (TESLA, 2021). Unperturbed, Tesla introduced the Model X luxury self-utility vehicle (SUV) in 2015. Finally, in 2017, Tesla introduced the Model 3, a less expensive vehicle and the best-selling electric car of all time (TESLA, 2021). Under Musk, Tesla has become one of the most valued automakers in the world.
Musk also founded Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in 2002, aiming to lower the expense of rocket launchers. He is the CEO of SpaceX and the chief designer in building Starship, Dragon, and Falcon rockets (Gregersen, 2022). Under his leadership, SpaceX has had various high-profile contracts with the U.S. Airforce and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to design space launch rockets (Gregersen, 2022). In addition, he aims to send an astronaut to Mars by 2025 in collaboration with NASA. In April 2022, Musk expressed his desire to buy Twitter Inc. at $54.20 per share (Gregersen, 2022). He later offered a deal of $46.5 billion to buy the social media platform. On October 28, 2022, he took complete control of Twitter as the CEO of the social networking site. According to Haverstock (2021), Musk is the wealthiest person on the planet, with a net worth of about $223.8 billion.
In summary, Musk’s biography reveals that although he has gone through various challenges in his life, including a difficult childhood and divorce, those drawbacks have not hindered him from becoming one of the most successful entrepreneurs worldwide. Musk has maintained his life away from U.S. politics by taking a non-partisan stand and fully concentrating on the country’s technological future. Particularly, he has been on the frontline in advocating for using renewable energy sources, improving the internet, and space exploration. The recent takeover of Twitter will enable him to shape the coming generations’ technological future.
- Gregersen, E. (2019). Elon Musk | Biography & Facts. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Elon-Musk
- Haverstock, E. (2021, October 26). Elon Musk, nearing a $300 billion fortune, is the richest person in history. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/elizahaverstock/2021/10/26/elon-musk-nearing-300-billion-fortune-is-the-richest-person-in-history/?sh=280687461933
- Sherman, N. (2022, April 28). Who is Elon Musk? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61234231
- Tesla. (2021). Elon Musk | Tesla. https://www.tesla.com/elon-musk