“Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another. There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it. We did for you.” – Elon Musk tweeted on that remarkable day.
This tweet defines who Elon Musk is and what he has been doing to transform the world.
It was a milestone in the history of space exploration when Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket in the world, carrying a cherry red Tesla Roadster and Starman, its passenger, blasted off into space from Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.
Meanwhile, Musk was watching that magnificent sight. It was one among his many dreams. He threw an optimistic smile at the bright sky as the rocket defeated gravity.
When his counterparts still emphasize the “earthly things”, Musk is on his way to build the future.
Yes, his thinking is quite innovative and offbeat! Who else would send his Tesla Roadster into space? No wonder he’s called real life Iron Man!
He believes at some point in future, the grave environmental issues will make life on Earth almost impossible.
So Musk, much like the Iron Man, is in pursuit to save humanity from extinction. But he’s not going to get into an Iron Man suit!
He believes within few years from now, human beings can space-travel to other planets. He thinks, with advancements in science and technology, life would be possible on Mars!
Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. His father, Errol, was an electromechanical engineer based in South Africa, and mother, Maye, a Canadian-born model and dietitian.
He was very silent and introvert during his childhood days that even his mom thought her son was deaf.
Musk’s life wasn’t a bed of roses when he was a kid. Even the school life was horrible as his fellow students used to bully him everyday. His parents got divorced when he was 10 and that pushed him into further despair.
Acquainting with Technology
Musk was fascinated with programming. When he was 12, Musk created a game and sold it for $500. That was the just the beginning of his remarkable entrepreneurial life.
Apartheid was still prevalent in South Africa when Musk was a teenager. Also, it was compulsory for youngsters to join the military force, whose primary duty was to impose apartheid.
So at 17, Musk left for Canada to avoid serving South African military.
In Canada, Musk found new opportunities and his life began to prosper. He enrolled in Queen’s University for undergraduate study. Canada gave Musk a chance to explore new possibilities.
After two years in Canada, Musk enrolled in University of Pennsylvania to complete his studies. He planned to do PhD in Physics and joined Stanford University for his research programme in 1995.
It was a time when the internet was extending its tentacles across the globe and Musk found an opportunity there. He dropped out of the PhD programme to start his own company.
He founded his first company, Zip2, in 1995. It helped newspapers develop their online city guide. Musk bagged clients like The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune at the beginning itself.
Zip2, which was started with a capital of $28,000, became successful within a few years. Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq in 1999 for a whopping $307 million. He bagged $22 million from this deal.
How He Founded Paypal
So at 28, Elon Musk became a millionaire. He could have resorted to a lavish lifestyle with the millions he earned.
But he was not ready to sit back and relax. He founded a new company, X.com, an online banking company in 1999 with an investment of $10 million.
eBay acquired Paypal for $1.5 billion, which left a whopping $165 million in Musk’s wallet! As expected from a visionary entrepreneur like him, Musk ventured into yet another domain – Space exploration!
Towards a Vision
By the time Elon Musk sold Paypal, he was already rich and influential. So he revived his passion for science. He learnt about rocket science deeply.
He conceptualized ‘Mars Oasis’, where the idea was to set up a greenhouse on the surface of Mars. This was done to regain public interest in space exploration. The ‘Iron Man’ phase of his life really began at this point.
Musk visited Russia to buy some refurbished ballistic missiles. But the move was a failure as the Russians didn’t take him seriously!
He returned to US and founded SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp). Musk invested $100 million to set up the company. Because he was really serious about the project.
The goals of SpaceX were cheaper space exploration and colonization of Mars. SpaceX had a turbulent initial phase, where their much hyped projects failed to deliver the desired results.
But once, Elon Musk came on board as the lead designer, the company started to gain momentum. He earned multiple contracts from NASA worth millions. SpaceX scaled many landmarks under his leadership.
Growth of SpaceX
In 2008, its Falcon 1 became the first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach the orbit. Fours year later, SpaceX successfully docked its Dragon vehicle with international space station in 2012.
The company also launched a programme to produce reusable launch system. This was to reduce the cost of space exploration.
Recently, Elon Musk conceptualized hyperloop,his new vision of transport that enables high speed travel across long distances.
That is, you can go to Kochi from Bangalore within a few minutes! Musk has been trying to build functional prototypes of hyperloop since he introduced the concept.
Entry into Automobile Industry
Elon Musk revolutionized automobile industry through Tesla, a company that produced and popularized energy-efficient electric cars and solar panels. When he came to Tesla in 2008, the company was going through a severe financial crisis.
He assumed the position of CEO and product architect at Tesla and took the helm of the company. Elon Musk was in forefront of Tesla when the it became the most trusted brand in electric vehicle segment.
Elon Musk is the founder of Neuralink, a company that focuses on developing implantable brain-computer interfaces. The company’s objective is create highly specific devices to treat brain diseases.
He also founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel building company. Musk’s hyperloop technology is going to be the flagship project of this company.
His company, OpenAI, founded in 2015, aims to develop and promote artificial intelligence for the betterment of humanity. It is a platform where AI experts from different research institutions collaborate to create and promote friendly AI.
How He Contributes to the Society
With a net worth of $19 billion, Elon Musk heads Musk Foundation, an NGO that provides solar-power energy systems in areas hit by disasters and calamities.
He has been involved in various philanthropic activities. Musk is also a signatory of Bill Gates’ The Giving Pledge.
Elon Musk shows the world how you can be an entrepreneur and innovator at the same time.
Most importantly he inspires a generation to think beyond the farthest horizons. Because that’s where the future is and will be!
Like the Iron Man, Elon Musk uses the resources in his artillery to make this world a better place. That too without superhuman powers!
Need a dose of inspiration? Here are the best quotes of Elon Musk!
Elon Musk is a fitting example that shows how you should follow your passion and feed it over time.
There were a couple of instances in his life when he could have resorted to a comfortable life. But he followed his passion.
So never give up on your passion even if life offers you every luxury. Go out and do what you always wanted to do!
Always go the extra mile and think beyond your horizon! Because being a winner is not always about being rich!