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We tweet about him, we’ve talked about some of his projects and you probably know him as the ‘space’ guy with the rockets but how did this Billionaire make his money?
This was Musks first foray into entrepreneurship, at the age of 12 he had already taught himself computer programming and created a BASIC-based video game called Blastar. He sold this to PC and Office Technology Magazine for $500. You can still play this game online here.
In 1995 Elon, along with his brother Kimbal, started Zip2, a web software company with money he’d raised from ‘angel investors’. Zip2 was an internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry with contracts to supply the service to The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. In February 1999, Zip2 was sold to Compaq and Elon received $22 million for his share in the company.
After the sale of Zip2, Elon invested $10m of his money into X.com which provided financial services and email payments. X.com merged with Confinity within a year to create PayPal, the world renowned online payment system. Due to disagreements with the board, Elon was removed as CEO in 2000 even though he remained on the board. In 2002, PayPal was purchased by eBay for $1.5b in stock. Elon walked away with $165m after the sale and bought X.com back from eBay for an undisclosed fee due to it’s sentimental value.
After several failed attempts to buy refurbished Intercontinental Ballistic Rockets from the Russians, Elon quickly realised that he could make the rockets for a fraction of the cost and so launched Space X in 2002 with $100m of his newly acquired wealth. His aim was to reduce the cost of space travel significantly enough to make it viable for humans to become a space faring civilisation.
Elon has successfully launched several rockets into space, has contracts with NASA for payload delivery and astronaut transport. Elons latest aim for space X is to put a man on Mars very soon. He has predicted test flights to the red planet to begin as early as next year.
Incorporated in 2003, Musk joined the board in 2004 after heavy investment. In 2008, he became the CEO and is still in that position today. Tesla design and build electric vehicles and powertrain components which they sell to other car manufacturers. In 2014, Musk announced that it would allow its technology patents to be used by anyone in good faith in a bid to entice automobile manufacturers to speed up development of electric cars.
Co-founded in 2006 by his cousins, Solar City became the second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States by 2013. In 2016 the company was acquired by Tesla Inc and is currently a wholly owned subsidiary of Tesla. The link up between Tesla and SolarCity has allowed the companies to focus on renewable energy sources and storage.
As mentioned in a previous blog, the hyperloop is an old concept given a touch of the Musk magic. In 2013 he revealed a modernised version of a high speed transportation system that uses a system of pressurised capsules inside vacuum tunnels that can achieve speeds of over 600mph, significantly reducing travel times throughout the country. Musk hasn’t patented this technology as he wants other companies to take the reins and develop the idea further but that hasn’t stopped him from seeking to gain approval from various states to build his hyperloop system.
The Boring Company
Towards the end of 2016, beginning of 2017 Elon created the Boring Company who’s specific task is to bore tunnels. It appears the Boring Company would be used to build the tunnels for his Hyperloop project, or just tunnels in general. 2017 saw discussions with regulatory bodies with regards to boring tunnels but no permits have yet been issued.
So there you have it. From his first project netting him $500 to earning millions from his ideas, Elon Musk has rightly earned his place as one of the most influential thinkers of our generation. A millionaire who’s willing to spend his fortune on projects to benefit mankind over his pocket (although his deep pockets don’t seem to have been harmed by his projects). I just hope we can have more people like this in our exciting technological future.
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