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CEO Profile: Elon Musk

Early Life and upbringing

Born in 1971 in Pretoria South Africa Elon Musk was the product of a British engineer (Father) and a nutritionist (Mother)1. His first 17 years were spent in Pretoria attending the Pretoria Boys High School. As a child Elon had shown he had a vigor for learning accompanied by an insatiable curiosity for computers. He purchased his very own computer at the age of 10 and had taught himself how to code which ultimately lead to his first taste of the entrepreneurial success he would later be recognized for. By the age of 12 he had immersed himself in computers, video games, and programming, so much so that he was able to make his first product, and later sale, of a video game titled “Blastar” which | he is said to have sold for $500.

His intuitive nature is seen in early development through the concentrated steps he took to reach his ultimate goals. He is said to have told his parents that he knew he wanted to go to America, however he felt that he would face more adversity reaching that goal trying to emigrate directly from Pretoria. Eventually at 17 he moved to Ontario Canada in order to reduce any challenges he might face and began studying at Queen’s College while waiting for his next calculated move, Pennsylvania.3

Once reaching America Elon earned a bachelor’s in economics, and decided to stay for an extra year to finish a second degree in physics. He originally wanted to pursue a PhD in physics shortly after at Stanford but dropped out only two days in to his program after finding that the entrepreneurial lust was too strong.

Zip2 - The First of Many Businesses

i.imgur.com_lcb7irj.jpg Accompanied by his brother, Kimbal, the two started an internet based business called Zip2. The idea was to aggregate major news sources and create a “city guide” for users to view online versions of newspaper content. Musk was responsible for convincing the Chicago Tribune board of directors not to pursue a merger with a company named CitySearch. Though only in his twenties still and showing massive success as a businessman he was forced to sell a large interest in Zip2 to venture capitalists for $3.6 million dollars.

However Elon did not come out empty handed. In 1999 a division of Compaq bought out Zip2 for $307 million dollars and $34 million in stock options. Musk walked away with a modest 7% for a less than modest $22 million dollars.2 Taking no time to bask in his recently acquired millions, that same year Musk co-founded his second major success, X.com. Originally PayPal and X.com were commissioned to work together after a Merger between X.com and PayPal, a subsidiary of Confinity, had occurred. However Musk was soon convinced that the PayPal brand was stronger and again flexed his persuasive argument style to convince the board that the X.com brand be deserted completely.

PayPal Success

i.imgur.com_paybgs7.jpg In PayPal’s infancy Musk shared duties with interim CEO and original PayPal founder, Peter Thiel. However PayPal’s early growth is credited in large part to Musk’s successful marketing efforts. Again Musk was able to walk away from this startup successfully, only this time in a much brighter spotlight. eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock, leaving Musk with his pockets filled with $165 million worth. His earliest stock positions shed light on the investing side of Elon9, prior to the sale of PayPal Musk could have boasted about holding the largest stake in the company, owning a whopping 11.7% of the shares.

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX)

i.imgur.com_hjfrtb0.jpg Showing no signs of slowing down Musk would soon take one of the largest financial risks of his life. Co-founding his now third company with Tom Mueller a rocket propulsion engineer, Space Exploration Technologies was born, now better known as SpaceX8. This time around the idea was to privatize space flight, most notably Musk is said to have commented about his aspirations to start a small city on Mars and make space travel more cost efficient by a factor of ten.

Tesla Motors and Other Current Ventures

i.imgur.com_ugo1hbq.jpg Following SpaceX Elon has embarked on several different business ventures, more often than not holding the position of CEO6 while maintaining high status in Research and Development. Tesla Motors followed SpaceX and was created with the idea that alternative fuel should power the cars of tomorrow. Since it’s inception Tesla has created a very good name for itself in the media despite some road bumps along the way (Negative Review in the New York Times Post written by a questionable writer). It’s most recognized car could be argued to be the Model S which boasts 6,900 sales in one quarter alone with pricing in the $70,000 range, for an approximate $483 million in revenue.

Along with a cousin Musk created a business with a unique business model to provide solar power to the masses. The company, coined SolarCity, is currently America’s largest provider for solar power systems as a result of the affordability and timeliness of the service.5

His latest, and arguably his wildest idea yet, is what he calls the “hyper loop”7. An ingenous new method of transport that would take full advantage of the physical laws governing pressure. Though it is yet to be proven technologically or even economically feasible, the design is meticulously detailed and calculated and could prove to be one of the fastest and most cost efficient means of travel in the future.

Final Thoughts

A serial entrepreneur2, passionate about the preservation of human kind and innovation, with the mind of an investor and heart of a true businessman, Musk has proven again and again that he can and will disrupt what is commonly accepted. All the while, Musk seems to not only create profits for himself, but in turn he masterfully finds ways in which he can combine profit with significant technological benefits for the rest of us.

At a humble 42 years of age, he is now estimated to have a net worth of approximately 8.2 Billion dollars4. Though one could assume holding two CEO titles, one CTO title, and responsibilities of Product Architect for a billion dollar company would be impossible, Elon Musk proves he’s the man to do it, and succeed often beyond our highest expectations.

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