In 2021, there is no escaping the name Elon Musk. Tesla, SpaceX, that Joe Rogan podcast episode, being the second richest person in the world, and Dogecoin are just some of the many identifying factors that are associated with Musk.
Who actually is Elon Musk? Let’s take a deep dive into his profile.
A young entrepreneur
Originally from South Africa, Elon Musk had entrepreneurial tendencies from very early on. At the age of 10, he had an interest in computer coding and sold his first video game at age 12. He moved to Canada at 17, then to the U.S years later. During his time in Canada and the U.S, he obtained multiple degrees and internships in Silicon Valley. He also began a PhD at Stanford University but dropped out mere days later to get into startups and the internet boom.
He then co-founded Zip2, a software company, and X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, which was one of the world’s first online banks. This eventually became what is now known as PayPal.
SpaceX and Tesla
Musk founded aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company SpaceX in 2002. It was the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.
Contrary to popular belief, Musk was not a founder of Tesla (electric vehicle and clean energy company) but was heavily involved early on. He eventually became CEO and product architect in 2008.
Other businesses and ventures
- SolarCity: Solar power and panels
- Neuralink: Neurotechnology startup company to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence
- The Boring Company: Mostly constructs tunnels
- Hyperloop: A form of transportation, described as a sealed tube or system of tubes with low air pressure where a pod may travel mostly free of air resistance or friction
- OpenAI: A not-for-profit that specialises in artificial intelligence that is safe and beneficial for humanity
Why do I see him in the news?
He’s quite the character, he’s successful and his companies continue to innovate. But one thing about Musk is that he has a dedicated supporter base. Like, very dedicated. His appeal to fans generally comes from a combination of his company’s innovation and his personality. Musk loves memes, regularly tweeting them, as well as relevant jokes. He has actively addressed this tweeting, “My Twitter is pretty much complete nonsense at this point”. Musk is also heavily involved with cryptocurrencies and its community. Recently, he has been tweeting about Dogecoin, playing a role in its recent surge in value.
Musk is relevantly active in political discourse as well. He has made public donations to both Democrats and Republicans, and publicly endorsed Kanye West when he ran for President (the two apparently have a bit of a ‘bromance’).
He’s a bit controversial though (to say the least)
With Musk, others definitely don’t see him the same way his fans do, especially as he has been involved in a number of controversies.
- During the pandemic, he contributed to the spread of misinformation about COVID-19, testing, and suggesting statistics had been manipulated.
- Musk has also been heavily criticised for the working conditions of his companies, specifically Tesla. There has been criticism on the conditions and expectations of Musk and Tesla, with many workers allegedly having experienced life changing injuries in factories.
- He’s previously tweeted “Pronouns suck”, which was criticised as transphobic (even by his partner, who is musician Grimes). This tweet was met with a wave of backlash online.
- He was also sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for falsely tweeting (seeing a pattern here?) he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla.
As you can imagine, there’s plenty more about Elon Musk that we couldn’t include. But if you really want to get a sense of what he is like, check out his Twitter one day.