Inventor, entrepreneur and general innovator, Elon Musk has done more to shape how we might live and travel in the future than almost anyone else alive.
If you haven’t heard of him, now’s the time to get acquainted, as chances are, you’ll be using one of his products or services in the next 20 or 30 years. And if you do know him? You might find out something new, as we delve into who he is and what he’s done over his remarkable career.
Who is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk is a technology entrepreneur who has created some of the most innovative products and services of this century. Born in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 28, 1971, the Canadian-American is one of the richest people in the world, and one of the most powerful.
Elon Musk and PayPal
Musk was instrumental in the rise of online payments system PayPal. In 1999, Musk founded X.com, a website offering financial services and payment by email. This then merged with a company called Confinity, which had a payments service called PayPal. The merged company focused on the PayPal side of the business, and was renamed after it in 2001. Musk was ousted as CEO in 2000, though he remained on the board. When eBay bought PayPal in 2002, Musk – then PayPal’s biggest shareholder – received $165 million (£125 million).
Elon Musk and Tesla
Musk is perhaps best known for his electric car company, Tesla. Tesla makes some of the most desirable and innovative electric cars around, and the company is widely credited with making electric cars ‘sexy’.
Musk joined as chairman of the company in 2004, but following the financial crisis in 2008, took over as CEO and product architect.
Musk has worked tirelessly to make electric powertrains – the combination of engine, transmission, drive shaft, suspension and wheels - more affordable, and has sold them to other car companies like Daimler, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota for use in their vehicles. For his work in this area, Musk has been compared to automotive pioneer Henry Ford.
Elon Musk and SpaceX
Musk has also ventured into space exploration. His company SpaceX is one of a new generation of privately-owned firms who want to offer space tourism (the other main one being Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos). In 2008, SpaceX’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately-funded liquid-fueled vehicle to put a satellite into Earth orbit. The company’s vessels have since berthed a vehicle to the International Space Station, and – in a world first – their booster rocket systems have been successfully recovered and reused. Musk plans to transport tourists to Mars by 2030. Based on his achievements so far, we wouldn’t doubt him.
Elon Musk and Hyperloop
Musk’s futuristic transport plans are also gathering pace here on Earth. Unveiled in 2013, Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that promises to slash travel times between major cities in the US. It’s like something from The Jetsons – travellers sit inside pressurised capsules that are shot at high velocity through a huge tube, connecting one city to another.
Elon Musk and The Boring Company
He has plans for transport underground, too. His latest venture – called The Boring Company – plans to dig down and create a network of tunnels through which motorists can drive in order to avoid traffic. However, it’s early days yet. The firm has started digging a test tunnel on the SpaceX premises, but has yet to apply for permission to dig under publicly-owned areas.
What is Elon Musk’s net worth?
Musk is currently thought to be worth $16.1 billion (£12.16 billion).