Elon Musk

Elon Musk - toolshero

Elon Musk is a Canadian-American entrepreneur who lives in the United States. He is the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and Zip2, among others. He was also one of the people responsible for the success of PayPal. Currently he serves as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Designer (CDO) of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla (electric vehicles), and chair of SolarCity.

Biography Elon Musk

Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South-Africa on 28 June 1971. He’s the son of a Canadian model (Maye Musk) and a South-African electromechanical engineer (Errol Musk). His parents divorced in 1980, after which Musk lived with his father.

When he was 10 years old, he discovered the Commodore VIC-20. He taught himself to programme and sold a video game coded in BASIC two years later. BASIC is an imperative programming language that was originally intended to help people learn programming very quickly. The game was called Blastar, and he sold it to PC and Office Technology magazine for 500 dollars soon after.

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As a child, Musk attended the independent Waterkloof House Preparatory School. He did his final exams at Pretoria Boys High School and moved to Canada in June of 1989. He then became a Canadian citizen through his Canadian mother.

In 1989 Elon Musk was admitted to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 1992, after two years at Queen’s University, Musk left for the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Penn’s College of Arts and Sciences and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Musk continued for another year to get his second bachelor.

During his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk and fellow student Adeo Ressi bought a student house to use as a nightclub. In 1995, at the age of 24, Musk moved to California to get his PhD in physics from Stanford University, but left the university after just two days to start his own businesses in the fields of Internet, sustainable energy, and space. He became an American citizen in 2002.

When he’s just twelve years old, he’s already a better programmer than his teachers. At 24 he gives up his studies at Stanford University to start his first business.

Four years later, that business is worth 300 million dollars and is bought by Compaq. In 2002 eBay buys one of his other businesses – PayPal – for the considerable sum of 1.5 billion dollars. He invests his considerable fortune in SpaceX (2002), Tesla Motors (2004), and SolarCity (2006).


Musk and his brother Kimbal founded Zip2 in 1995, an internet company. They did so with investments from a group of business angels.

One of the things the company developed was an online city guide for newspapers. Elon Musk approached The New York Times, Wall street journal and the Chicago Tribune. During his time at Zip2, Elon wanted to become CEO of the company, but none of Zip2’s board members agreed. Compaq bought Zip2 for 307 million American dollars, of which 7% went to Musk, amounting to 22 million dollars.

X.com and PayPal

In March of 1999, Musk founded X.com, an online payment platform. He invested 10 million in it.

A year later the company merged with Confinity which had its own payment platform named PayPal. The merged company focused on the services PayPal already had and continued under that name in 2001.

PayPal’s early growth was driven by a promotion that offered money to new customers if they signed up. PayPal was acquired by eBay in October of 2002, for one-and-a-half billion dollars. 165 million of that sum went to Musk. Before the takeover, Musk had been the largest shareholder with 11.7% of PayPal’s shares.


In 2001 Musk came up with the concept ‘Mars Oasis’; a project to have a small, experimental greenhouse with food crops land on Mars to generate public interest in space exploration and setting up an international space station. In October of 2001, Musk, Jim Cantrell, and Adeo Ressi travelled to Moscow to purchase old ICBMs that could shoot things into space with reusable rockets.

Elon Musk quotes

  • “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”
  • “If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.”
  • “There have to be reasons that you get up in the morning and you want to live. Why do you want to live? What’s the point? What inspires you? What do you love about the future? If the future does not include being out there among the stars and being a multi-planet species, I find that incredibly depressing.”
  • “When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, ‘Nah, what’s wrong with a horse?’ That was a huge bet he made, and it worked.”
  • “Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”
  • “It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”
  • “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
  • “Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.”
  • “Starting and growing a business is as much about the innovation, drive and determination of the people who do it as it is about the product they sell.”
  • “We’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”
  • “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”
  • “People work better when they know what the goal is and why. It is important that people look forward to coming to work in the morning and enjoy working.”
  • “I could either watch it happen or be a part of it.”

Publications and Books by Elon Musk

  • 2018. Making life multi-planetary. New Space, 6(1), 2-11.
  • 2017. Making humans a multi-planetary species. New Space, 5(2), 46-61.
  • 2006. The secret Tesla Motors master plan (just between you and me). blog), August, 2.
  • 2001. U.S. Patent No. 6,185,194. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • 1999. U.S. Patent No. 5,944,769. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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One response to “Elon Musk”

  1. Laffaz says:

    Great article

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