Once considered an eccentric on the verge of failure, Elon Musk is now voted Person of the Year by Time, with his plan to send humanity off Earth.
Elon Musk was born in South Africa on June 28, 1971, to a nutritionist mother and engineer father. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Musk reminisced about his childhood without his parents and spent most of his free time reading and doing research.
“I don’t really have a nanny or someone to look after me, just a housekeeper to make sure I don’t break anything. She doesn’t pay any attention to me. I read books, make explosives, rockets. and doing things that could cost me my life. I was raised by books. Books, then my parents,” Elon shared.
Musk’s childhood idol was Isacc Asimov, a biochemistry professor and sci-fi author who inspired futurism, while his father’s job as an engineer helped foster Build Musk’s design skills.
At the age of 17, Musk moved to Canada to study physics and economics, before moving to the US in 1992 for further study, self-financed with scholarships, loans and two part-time jobs. Five years later, Musk graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in the US with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a bachelor’s degree in physics.
After graduating, Musk transferred to a doctoral program at the prestigious Stanford University but decided to quit just two days after the program began, in order to pursue business plans.
Musk’s first startup was Zip2, a company that provides software for newspapers, founded by Musk, his brother and a friend. Zip2 finally succeeded, but it took a long time to rise. Musk has been plagued by financial troubles, sleeping on the sofa in his office and using the public bathroom at the local Christian Youth Association.
Zip2 was sold for $307 million in 1999, when Musk was 27 years old, making him $22 million thanks to a 7% stake in the company. “Starting a business is not for everyone. First, you have to have great stamina,” Elon said.
Elon Musk spent most of the money from this deal to join Harris Fricker, Ed Ho and Christopher Payne to found financial services company X.com, one of the world’s first online banks. In 2000, X.com was merged with Confinity, a Silicon Valley software company, and renamed PayPal. In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion.
The millions of dollars just made from this deal could make it easier for Elon to choose to retire. But instead, he decided to invest almost all of his money in two big projects, Tesla and SpaceX.
In July 2003, Elon and two others founded Tesla, a company that produces electric vehicles and clean energy, then invested $ 6.5 million in the project, becoming the largest shareholder and chairman of Tesla. In 2008, he took over as chief executive officer, a year before Tesla produced its first electric car.
The space company SpaceX was founded by Elon with the support of rocket engineer Tom Mueller, with the goal of revolutionizing space travel, eventually bringing humanity to inhabit other planets.
“I got $180 million from the PayPal acquisition. $100 million I spent on SpaceX and $70 million on Tesla. I used to have to borrow money to rent a house,” Elon recounted.
But that looks to be bad times for him, as SpaceX suffers from three failed rocket launches and soaring costs threaten Tesla. His companies achieved many breakthrough technical achievements and new initiatives, but were constantly behind schedule and suffered huge losses.
Some people at the time criticized Elon as “eccentric” and questioned his ability to run a publicly-listed company like Tesla.
In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company to put a spacecraft into orbit and return safely to Earth.
In a 2018 interview, he revealed that he worked frantically up to 120 hours a week, to the point where friends had to express concerns about his health. “This past year has been the most difficult and painful time of my career,” he said at the time. “Really exhausted”.
In the interview, Elon sometimes stopped because he was too emotional when he said that he spent his entire birthday in 2017 just working. “I worked all night, no friends, nothing,” he said.
Elon said that when he was not working, he had to take the drug Ambien to be able to fall asleep. “Either no sleep or Ambien, just one of two options,” he said.
However, his frenetic days have paid off. In September, SpaceX successfully carried out the first civilian crewed journey to orbit aboard the Crew Dragon ship. At the same time, the Tesla Model 3 became the first electric vehicle to sell one million units globally, and the company’s quarterly profit also hit the $1 billion mark for the first time. Tesla’s value is now higher than that of General Motors and Ford combined, helping to reshape the market for electric and self-driving cars.
In January, Elon for the first time surpassed Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to take the position of the richest person in the world. As of the end of October, Musk became the first person in the world to own $300 billion, twice as rich as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Despite possessing a huge fortune and global influence, Musk is considered to always strive to reach greater things. He remains highly focused on SpaceX’s vision of establishing sustainable life for humans on Mars.
“You want to wake up every morning thinking that the future is going to be great. The civilization of space travel revolves around this. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. I Can’t think of anything more exciting than going out into space and standing among the stars,” Elon once said.
However, Elon is also a controversial person, often criticized for acting rashly and speaking carelessly. In 2018, he was sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for misleading investors, then accepted to resign as Tesla chairman and pay a fine of $ 20 million.
Elon also has great influence in the field of cryptocurrencies. Over the past year, his Twitter posts on the subject have always sent the market up and down, causing him to be accused by crypto investors of “manipulating” the market and gradually losing faith in the tweets. your.
Despite mixed opinions, Time magazine on December 13 announced Elon Musk as Person of the Year. This is an annual title chosen by Time for nearly a century, for individuals or groups, movements, and ideas that shape the world, whether positively or negatively.
“Person of the Year is an influential person, while few individuals possess more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and possibly beyond. In 2021, Elon not only is the richest person in the world, which is possibly the best example of a transformation in our society,” explains Time Magazine editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal.
According to Felsenthal, “Elon sees its mission as solving the toughest global challenges,” while having a powerful impact on many industries over the course of two decades. These include the internal combustion engine automobile, once a key American achievement, and space travel, once a core American aspiration.
Along with that, the richest billionaire in the world has also made a strong mark in a series of areas that represent our present and future, such as infrastructure construction, artificial intelligence, neurotechnology, payment systems and cryptocurrencies.
“We still don’t know how Tesla, SpaceX, and the projects Musk hasn’t envisioned will change our lives. But at 50, Musk has plenty of time to write his own future, his own. and us. Like it or not, we’re all living in Musk’s world,” said Felsenthal.