A Brief Insight into Elon Musk the Man, the Entrepreneur and the Visionary

This is a tribute to the young entrepreneur – it’s an endeavour to know the man, his family life, his businesses and his limitless vision about the future – Elon Musk

A Brief Insight into Elon Musk the Man, the Entrepreneur and the Visionary

Early Life

Date of birth – June 28, 1971
Place of birth – Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa
Parents – His father, Errol Musk, was also born in South Africa and an electromechanical engineer by profession.

His mother Maye Musk, Maye Haldeman before her marriage to Errol Musk, is again a South African-born dietician and model.

The couple divorced in 1980.

Elon Musk with mother and siblings
Elon Musk with mother and siblings

Siblings – His brother Kimbal Musk born on September 20, 1972, is a Canadian-American entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and an environmentalist.

Tosca, the youngest among the siblings, born in 1974, is a producer and director of films and TV programs.

Very early in his life, at the age of ten, Elon Musk developed a penchant for computers and just two years later, aged 12, had begun computer programming (self-taught) and developed and sold the code for a video game, which he named Blastar, to a magazine called PC and Office Technology – his first business deal.

Schooling & University – He studied at the Waterkloof House Preparatory School and graduated from Pretoria Boys High School. Soon after his graduation, he moved to Canada and had no difficulties getting Canadian citizenship because of his Canadian-born mother.

He joined the Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and after two years moved over to the University of Pennsylvania earning his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and Bachelor of Science degree in economics at the age of 24.

Young Elon Musk
Young Elon Musk

In 1995 Elon shifted base to California where he joined the Stanford University to pursue PhD in applied physics and materials science but two days were enough for him to leave and pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. His areas of interest were the internet, renewable energy and space.

In 2002 he was granted U.S. citizenship.

Career and Growth

His entrepreneurial adventure and ascendency in the world of big business began with Zip2, a software company he co-founded with his brother Kimbal Musk with an initial investment of US$28,000 funded by their father.

In February 1999, Zip2 was acquired by Compaq at an estimated cost of US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stocks, his share of 7percent of the sale amounted to US$22 million making him a multimillionaire at the age of 28 – this was the beginning of bigger things to come.

X.Com and PayPal
In March 1999, with an investment of US$10 million, Elon co-founded an online financial services and email-payment-company named X.com later merging with the money transfer company Pay Pal and renamed his company PayPal in 2001.

PayPal was finally acquired by eBay for an amount of US$ 1.5 billion in stocks with Elon Musk netting US$165 million from the acquisition amount – step 2 toward becoming a billionaire and much more.

His flirtation with outer space started in 2001 which included the conceptualization of “Mars Oasis”, his travels to and from Moscow in pursuit of his space exploration aspirations, meeting with companies like NPO Lavochkin and Kosmotras, his ideas being scoffed at, and the trials and tribulations he endured in chasing his dreams.

He finally took the ultimate step, and in 2002, he founded the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, more commonly known as SpaceX, in his quest of creating and pioneering technologies that would reduce space travel costs which in turn would enable the colonization of Mars.

The company developed Falcon1 and Falcon9, both designed to be reusable for carrying and launching payloads and returning back safely to earth for further use.

In 2011, a privately funded program of reusable launch system technology development was started by SpaceX and after encountering numerous failures and glitches in the endeavour, December 2015 witnessed the perfect return of a Falcon9 rocket.

It landed back on its launch pad in an upright position which was cause for much jubilation within the SpaceX community – it was a historical moment for Elon Musk on a personal level.

There were several other successful launches and safe returns until September 2016 when a SpaceX rocket exploded on its launch pad destroying both rocket and payload. A re-launch has been scheduled for January 2017.


SpaceX setbacks include thrusters issues in a Dragon spacecraft in orbit, failed launches, and launch pad explosion.

However, Elon Musk’s vision of the colonization of Mars together with other space-related future plans continues.

The financial success of SpaceX can be gauged by the fact that, by 2016, Musk’s private trust holds 54% of SpaceX stock, equivalent to 78% of voting shares

Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors, better known as Tesla, was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning with Elon Musk getting involved with the company in February 2004 as the chairman of Tesla’s board of directors.

Initially, Musk was not involved in the day-to-day business operations of the company.

However, the financial crisis of 2008 saw Musk assuming the leadership of the company as CEO and Product Architect.

Under his leadership the company has grown by leaps and bounds and innovation in new Tesla cars has seen the company’s success graph go northwards.

In Elon Musk’s own words, “Tesla is here to stay and keep fighting for the electric car revolution.”

His other entrepreneurial commitments and achievements worthy of mention include the acquisition of Solar City – the largest solar energy suppliers in the U.S, Hyperloop – a company that specialises in road transport at airline speeds, and Open AI – a non-profit artificial intelligence research company

Elon Musk married Justine Wilson, a Canadian author, and separated from her in 2008 with six sons from the marriage.

In 2010, after a two-year courtship, Musk married Talulah Riley, an English actress and then announced the termination of the relationship spanning four years.

Elon Musk Created His Own Secret, Experimental School For His Kids
Elon Musk created his Own Secret, experimental school For his Kids (Photo ; Martin Schoeller)

In his tweet to Riley he wrote, “It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day.”

He remarried Riley in July 2013 and filed for a divorce a second time in December 2014 which was later withdrawn.

March 2016 saw a third filing for divorce, this time by Riley and the divorce was finalized and confirmed in October this year.

So, guys, this is the story of Elon Musk the man, entrepreneur and visionary with a number of awards to his credit.

Our endeavour to bring similar stories of young entrepreneurs, who have the capability of influencing the way we live, will continue.

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