Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future Ashlee Vance
A Primer on Elon Musk, before he became a household name and the new owner of Twitter(if and when that happens!)
Asking The Right Questions
This ethos of looking to ask the right questions led Elon Musk to consider how he could expand and improve human civilization from a young age.
Subscribe to Miniwise Newsletter (Free!)
Miniwise newsletter brings you one great bite-sized idea every day, curated from world's best non-fiction books, articles, podcasts..and more. An entire new world in just 5 minutes!
For example, by high school, he already had strong opinions on solar power, moving to other planets, paperless banking, and space rockets. On top of this, during this time, Elon started to learn more about entrepreneurship. He created his own video game, Blastar, which he sold for $500 when he was just 12 years old.
The 80s: South Africa To Canada
In the 1980s, when Elon Musk was reaching college age, military service was mandatory in South Africa. However, Elon had no interest in the military. So, he decided to leave the country.
The US was his dream destination, but he instead opted for Canada as a starting point.
Elon’s first year in Canada did not go exactly to plan. He struggled for money, as he drifted between odd jobs, and he struggled to find a real home. Instead, he was moving from relative to relative for short periods at a time.
Musk’s First Start-Up
Elon created his first company in 1995, straight out of college. He and his brother founded the Global Link Information Network. This company would later be renamed Zip2.
The USP of this company was that they guided businesses that were struggling to understand how to set up and use the internet.
Zip2: The First Company
Although this idea would eventually make Elon and his brother millions of dollars, they were not immediately successful. As the internet was a completely new concept, several businesses did not yet understand the value of putting their business online.
Elon and his brother struggled to gain traction with their new startup until a venture capital firm was impressed by Elon’s energy and drive. Mohr Davidow Ventures decided to invest in the start-up after meeting Elon. They hired Rich Sorkin as CEO of the company, moving Elon further down the ladder.
After selling Zip2, Elon Musk started to develop a strong reputation. Hence, he was able to partner with Barclays for his next business venture, X.com. At this time, people were still very wary of the internet. People were not even willing to buy books online, as they worried about
using their bank details on the internet.
The Paypal Before Paypal
Elon opened one of the first online banks, X.com, and managed to increase people’s confidence in online banking through his innovative approach.
X.com’s executives asked the company board if they could demote Musk as CEO. The executives succeeded, and Musk became an advisor.
In July 2002, the company was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion. From this, Musk received $250 million.
Investigating Life on Mars
Elon Musk has always had a passion for space travel. Just before PayPal was sold, Elon moved from near Silicon Valley to Los Angeles. He was fed up with Silicon Valley and wanted a new adventure.
This adventure was space travel. He moved just around the corner from the US space industry hub, where they were considering the possibility of putting life on Mars.
Tesla Inspired an Electric Car Future
Before Tesla, electric cars were available but not mainstream.
Wealthy individuals would always opt for a Jaguar or Ferrari over buying an electric car. However, Tesla changed the game. They provided powerful and stylish electric cars. Elon Musk made electric cars cool.
Tesla had slow growth at first but has now become one of the world’s most successful companies.
Elon Musk unveiled the Hyperloop in 2013. The Hyperloop is a large-scale pneumatic tube. These are the same tubes used to send mail around offices. However, Elon has taken this idea and applied it on a grand scale.
The innovative approach that Hyperloop adopts allows the pods to travel as fast as 800 miles per hour. If adopted on a large scale, people will travel from LA to San Francisco in just 30 minutes.
How It Is Going
Elon Musk is providing satellite internet services, partnering with NASA for space projects, and getting his hands on Twitter. He is also engaging himself in world problems, like the Ukraine war.
He is the richest man on the planet as of now, surpassing the wealth of Jeff Bezos and the like.