Elon Musk has been described as the real life Iron Man and as Christian Grey from 50 Shades. His companies cause some of the most talked-about innovations and headlines in the world. And the best bit? He isn’t even 50 years old yet and he can already claim that he’s played a significant role in changing the world. After launching X.Com that then became PayPal, Musk went on to launch Telsa Motors, an electric car making company and SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer.
The Real Life Tony Stark AKA Iron Man
He’s a pretty imposing character at over six feet tall, sleek and preened to perfection. This guy means business and he has spent most of his life trying to change the world we live in for the good of humanity and the good of the planet, even the solar system and the universe!
As a Boy – South African Violence
Musk grew up in apartheid-era South Africa and from a young age demonstrated an aptitude for entrepreneurship. When he was fifteen, he, his brother and his cousin started an arcade business. He was a he was a profoundly intelligent and ambitious young boy but at was also socially awkward at school. In fact, he actually got bullied a lot which resulted in one incident where he was beaten up so badly he had to go to hospital. Growing up in South Africa surrounded his younger years with a blanket of violence very different from what would be acceptable in an American school. It was an unruly and wild experience. He tells Vogue:
“It was like Lord of the Flies. There were a couple of gangs that were pretty evil, and they picked their victims and I was one of them. I think part of what set them off was that I ended up sticking up for this one kid who they were relentless on. And that made me a target.”
As a Man: Making a Genius
There’s part of him that’s also a regular guy. He’s got five sons from first marriage to Justine Musk and is currently married to actress, Talulah Riley. Their relationship has had quite a few ups and downs with divorce and remarriage but they seem to be in a good place right now. It’s his commitment to changing the world we live in that might get in the way of being a full-time regular guy. As he himself has said to Vogue Magazine last year:
“You’re not going to create revolutionary cars or rockets on 40 hours a week,” he tells me. “It just won’t work. Colonizing Mars isn’t going to happen on 40 hours a week.”
He’s also doing it for future generations and to make something different for his sons so you can still see he is a family guy at heart:
“Hopefully when they grow up we’ll be in the process of becoming a multiplanet civilization,” he says of his boys. “Hopefully we’ll have a small base on Mars. . . . Going there slowly would take six months. I think we can shorten that journey to three.”
50 Shades of Musk
Elon Musk is the talk of the town but what are the need-to-know facts about this fascinating man?
- He believes in making a better world but he doesn’t think it has to be Planet Earth, he’s thinking about the entire universe!
- His right-hand man at SpaceX is actually a woman, COO Gwynne Shotwell. She’s been at the company pretty much since the beginning.
- He didn’t set out to become a billionaire. He set out thinking we have to fix the world so it’s better for humans.
- In his teens he suffered an Existential crisis where he managed to find the answer through the cult 1979 novel by Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, fueling Musk’s passion for both the environmental conservation and fast cars.
- In 1989, Musk left South Africa for Canada, where he attended university at Queen’s University in Ontario and then transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. He studied economics and physics.
- Musk started a Ph.D. program at Stanford but dropped out after two days to join his brother in starting Zip2, the online city directory eventually becoming X.com. It’s probably this decision that changed his life course the most.
The Companies that Made his Billions
Back to the Future: Telsa Cars
There’s so much hype around this company but it’s going absolutely mad right now! Today, Thursday March 31, 2016 Telsa Motors unveiled its Model 3. Musk has called this part one of two, promising that what we discover today about this innovative car will not be the end of the mystery. Customers are already permitted to put down a deposit and pre-order the Model 3 and there will be an 800-people event held tonight. IT’s being aired live on the company website so everyone can find out what’s going on as it happens!
The unveiling will only showcase the prototype but it will be a working prototype where event attendees can actually test drive the vehicle to get a feel for what the Model 3 will be like when it hits our roads.
There’s speculation over what Musk means for part one of two and some have said that there are plans for Telsa to release the Model X SUV.
Not much is known but the key features are released which include:
- Starting price of $35,000
- Capability of driving 200 miles on a single charge
- 20% smaller than Model S
Martians on the Moon? SpaceX
SpaceX has faced some controversy in recent months after accusations of poaching intellectual property but it still seems to be making innovative progress. For instance, they revealed today that the company will launch the first ever hotel in space!
With the invention of Inflatable habitats’ an idea that’s actually pretty damn old in technology terms, prototypes are now being properly developed to make space travel a reality. In fact, it’s so close SpaceX is expected to introduce its own International Space Station in less than a few weeks time!
The hotel itself is called the BEAM (Bigalow Expandable Activity Module) and is a 565 cubic foot habitat so it’s actually pretty small. It needs further testing before it can actually be made into hotel rooms in space though, but watch this space (excuse the pun).