What has Elon Musk accomplished in those 48 years?
Elon Musk is, to put it mildly, a recognizable person, if not to say a celebrity. However, his fame is not only about his bright engineering, investing, and entrepreneurship skills. He is also known for his eccentric behavior, ambiguous statements, and bizarre social media activity (which has made him a real “meme hero”). He turns 48 today, so we have decided to bring together all his accomplishments, both good and bad.
So, who’s (or maybe what’s) our hero today? The World Wide Web claims that he is the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX, co-founder, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc., co-founder and CEO of Neuralink; founder of The Boring Company, co-founder and co-chairman of OpenAI, and co-founder of PayPal. Wow. It makes us want to say Iron Man’s fabulous and famous “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” when he was replying to “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that away, and what are you?”. Come to think of it, all jokes aside, the man is really a many-sided person. Moreover, he is successful in most of his endeavors (eventually).
Musk was 24 years old when started his first company. Zip2 Corporation was a company that developed and marketed an internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. In other words, it enabled two-way communication between users and advertisers. He linked the digital online maps from Navteq to the business catalog and created the first Yellow Pages online. Four years later, in 1999, the company was sold to a computer manufacturer Compaq for $307M. At the time, it was the largest internet company ever bought. Elon received his share – 7%, ($22M).
Musk founded his first computer company (Zip2) for $28,000, which was borrowed from his father. Two years later he sold it for $307M. This allowed the young entrepreneur to implement the idea of an online banking and payment system.
So, imagine, it is the year 1999, and internet users worldwide actively visit pages offering all sorts of products, even foreign ones, exclusive and publicly available, all colors, shapes, and sizes. Today, we place orders in a minute, but in 1999 purchases could only be made in a physical store. This was what Elon Musk decided to fix, launching the electronic payment system X.com. Apparently, he was not a pioneer in the online banking business. There was eCash, which laid down the basic principles of electronic payment systems before X.com, but in 1998 it went bankrupt. Thus, he grasped this idea, and invested most of his funds into this… what do we call it? Adventure, or even gamble. Because normally, it would be extremely difficult to find a citizen who would agree to invest in something somehow related to this horrifying word “Internet” in 1999.
Initially, the site didn’t work well, and Elon had major disagreements with programmers and other staff. However, he found the way, and initiated the merger with another student startup called Confinity. Pretty soon, he gave up this idea, and this project became what we know now as PayPal, the largest electronic payment system in the world.
Tesla and Model S
In 2003, Musk invested in the newly created company Tesla Motors and gradually got his hands on it. His primary aim was producing electric, beautiful, and fast cars.
In 2010, Tesla was the first American car company, which went IPO in fifty years.
Of course, you can’t call Elon Musk the inventor of the electric vehicle, since the first electric car had been developed even before the invention of the internal combustion engine. It happened in 1841, and the car was a simple cart with a motor. Nowadays, no one will be surprised by a hybrid or electric vehicle, but it is the Tesla Model S that has become a truly successful one. It combines advanced “green” technology, efficiency, excellent technical characteristics, and high-class comfort. In fact, it is a luxury car that can compete with the top models of the world’s leading vehicle makers.
Falcon, Dragon, and SpaceX
Elon got $180M for PayPal, so then he had some time and space to think about space and eternity. A super extreme volcano, a meteorite, a new virus, the Large Hadron Collider, all these and many other things can easily destroy the planet and humanity. It’s time to move to other planets. According to the official version, Musk was thinking about creating SpaceX, which was the first private company specialized in spacecraft development and building. To settle on Mars, people would need reusable launch vehicles (which, actually, were developed before SpaceX, but were never produced).
From 2002 to 2016, Musk and his team of engineers sent several Falcon rockets into space, and in 2016 the first stage of the Falcon 9 returned back. Falcon Heavy was the next launch vehicle that managed to perform the same action. Moreover, SpaceX staff sent Tesla on an eternal journey using Falcon Heavy (which became another hype topic for a batch of new memes).
What’s more, Dragon, which is a reusable cargo spacecraft developed by SpaceX as well, has already made several flights to the ISS. SpaceX has developed a second version called Dragon 2, which includes the capability to transport people. Flight testing is scheduled to complete in the first half of 2019.
Halcyon Molecular Inc.
The company was a whole genome sequencing startup, and it became one of the few failures of Elon Musk. This ambitious project focused on the future of genetics and biotechnology, and it was founded by brothers William and Michael Andregg in 2008 to uncover the secrets hidden in DNA. According to Luke Nosek, the technology could “sequence 100 percent complete human genome in less than ten minutes for less than $100”. But, according to Fierce Biotech, due to huge competition in the field, Halcyon Molecular Inc was shut down in 2012.
In 2013, Musk decided to invest in something new. Hyperloop is a completely new type of transport: a high-speed train in a vacuum tube capable of a top speed of 1000 km/h. The idea is not new and has been described many times before, but Musk had the courage to start its implementation.
In December 2017, successful tests of a full-fledged Hyperloop system were conducted at the test site. The capsule managed to reach the speed of 386.2 km/h.
Elon Musk & scandals
And now we’re coming to the most interesting part. Technology apart, let’s talk about memes and scandals.
Scandal №1: In 2017, Tesla had more than 500,000 pre-orders for an unreleased Model 3 car. But the plant was able to reach the production volume only a year later. As a result, by the end of 2018, the automaker had failed to fulfill almost 50% of the orders, and the Model 3 was criticized for its poor quality.
Scandal №2: In February 2018, during a test launch of the Falcon Heavy, Musk’s personal vehicle Tesla Roadster with a mannequin astronaut in the driver’s seat was delivered into outer space. Actually, it was an absolutely useless cargo, but the excitement caused by this fact stirred up the entire planet.
Scandal №3: On April 1, 2018, Elon Musk, just for fun, announced the bankruptcy of Tesla Motors. The company’s investors did not appreciate the joke: “It was very brave, but very offensive to many people,” was what they said.
Scandal №4: Tesla shares fell by more than 8% after the video where Elon Musk smoked marijuana and drank whiskey live from Joe Rogan’s studio. However, it was only one puff, and after it, Elon said that it was not for him and “it is not very good for productivity”.
Scandal №5: In August 2018, Elon Musk tweeted, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.” The S.E.C. sued Mr. Musk in federal court for misleading investors over his post on Twitter that he had “funding secured” for a buyout of the electric-car company at $420 a share.
The settlement would force Musk to step aside as chairman for three years and pay a $20 million fine.
Scandal №6: Elon Musk vs Fortnite. Elon said that he bought and then deleted the Fortnite video game, and tweeted, “I had to save these kids from eternal virginity”.
It has stirred up a lot of emotion, especially if we are talking about the gaming community. Nevertheless, Fortnite’s developers showed that they also have a sense of humor, so they tweeted back, asking at which stage is Musk’s ten-year plan to build a Mars Base is. This was in reference to the feature in the game which allows you to ‘build’ without any constraints.
Musk answered, “Reality is hard”. Actually, this “tweet battle” gave rise to a number of memes as well.