TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – The son of a South African engineer father and a Canadian model and nutritionist mother, Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa 🇿🇦.
After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived primarily with his father. He would later dub his father “a terrible human being, almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done.”
“I had a terrible upbringing. I had a lot of adversity growing up. One thing I worry about with my kids is they don’t face enough adversity,” Musk said.Elon Musk
Musk was educated at the private, English-speaking Waterkloof House Preparatory School, where he started a year early, before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School. Because he was a self-proclaimed bookworm, he found it difficult to make friends.
“They got my best (expletive) friend to lure me out of hiding so they could beat me up. And that (expletive) hurt,” Musk said. “For some reason, they decided that I was it, and they were going to go after me nonstop. That’s what made growing up difficult. For several years, there was no respite. You get chased around by gangs at school who tried to beat the (expletive) out of me, and then I’d come home, and it would just be awful there as well.”
During his childhood, he demonstrated a talent for computers and entrepreneurship. The first thing he bought when he was 10 years old was a computer, which he then taught himself to program. The first software program he ever created was a space game called Blastar, which he sold for $500 when he was 12 years old.
Due to his unwillingness to support apartheid through compulsory military service, Musk left South Africa at 17 after obtaining a Canadian passport in 1988.
In the book Rocketeers, Musk explained, “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.”
After living near relatives in Canada, he came to the University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship where he received two degrees in business and physics. He chose to settle in the United States because “It is where great things are possible. I am nauseatingly pro-American.”
In 1995, he enrolled at Stanford to pursue a Ph.D. in energy physics but dropped out after just two days to start his first company called Zip2. Online content publishing software was produced by the company and sold to AltaVista in 1999 for $341 million.
Based on that success, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services company. A merger with Confinity (which was co-founded by immigrant entrepreneur Max Rafael Levchin) led to the change of name to PayPal. After being acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, PayPal became an independent public company in 2015.
Musk founded his third company without delay. Launched in 2002, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) aims at developing and manufacturing space launch vehicles.
As the first commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, SpaceX was awarded a $440 million NASA contract to develop the successor to the Space Shuttle and transport American astronauts into space.
As CEO and CTO of SpaceX, Musk believes that space exploration is crucial to ensuring the long-term viability of humankind.
Climate change is another issue that deeply concerns him. In response to that concern, he founded Tesla Motors, invested in and served as chairman of SolarCity, and became a trustee of the X Prize Foundation, which promotes renewable energy technologies.
As CEO and product architect, he provided almost all of the capital for Tesla Motors’ first two rounds of funding. His potential impact on the auto industry has been compared to that of Henry Ford. As America’s Most Innovative Leader, he received the award from Forbes in 2019. As a public figure, Musk frequently expresses his views on politics and tech, which sometimes stirs controversy.
Besides climate change, Musk points out that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a potentially existential challenge. His co-creation of OpenAI in 2015 aimed to promote and develop “friendly AI” for the benefit of humanity as a whole.
In 2016, he founded Neuralink to develop brain-computer interfaces. As well as alleviating symptoms of chronic medical conditions, such as depression and epilepsy, the technology could also significantly improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s disease.
It was announced early in April 2022 that Musk had purchased more than 9 percent of Twitter. Twitter announced shortly afterward that Musk would join its board, but Musk chose to buy the entire company for $44 billion at $54.20 a share.
Twitter’s board approved the deal, making him the sole owner. Aside from adding new features to the product, Musk stated that he planned to open the algorithms to increase trust, defeat spam bots, and authenticate all humans to the company.
In July 2022 Musk announced that he was withdrawing his bid, claiming that Twitter had not provided sufficient information about bot accounts and that the company was in “material breach of multiple provisions” of the purchase agreement.
In response, Twitter’s board chair, Bret Taylor, stated that the company was “committed to completing the transaction on the terms and price agreed upon with Mr. Musk.”
Attempts were made to force Musk to purchase Twitter by suing him. It was voted by Twitter shareholders to accept Musk’s offer in September 2022.
The company’s founder Elon Musk has been divorced three times–twice from Talulah Riley, his second wife. From 2018 to 2022, he was in a relationship with the Canadian singer/songwriter Claire Elise Boucher, professionally known as Grimes, with whom he had a son in 2020 and a daughter in 2022. Despite their differences, they remain best friends. He has five sons from his first marriage to Justine Musk as well.
Elon Musk’s daily routine can be summed up as work, eat, sleep, with work taking up a bulk of that time. With a bedtime of around 1 am, Musk typically wakes up at 7 am, getting 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep, which, he discovered over the years is his sweet spot. “Sleep is really great. I find if I don’t get enough sleep I’m quite grumpy. I could drop below a certain threshold of sleep, although I would be awake more hours I would get less done because my mental acuity would be affected,” Musk said in a 2015 Reddit AMA.
Immigrant entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have founded “unicorn” startups worth billions of dollars.