Elon Musk is certainly one of the most influential figures of our modern era.
SpaceX. Tesla. Nuralink. The prospect of one day colonizing mars.
The eccentric billionaire has used his intellect and bank account to revolutionize the tech industry and push limits of human ingenuity, creativity, and engineering.
There are very few stones left unturned by his innovative projects and secretive ventures. Many have compared him to Tony Stark – the billionaire industrialist and founding member of The Avengers.
Musk has developed a persona known for his seemingly limitless exploits and pursuits It seems like there is no greater figure in our era that is pushing the envelope of technological growth.
But, recent revelations have called into question whether he is a force for human advancement and good or whether he is in truth a supervillain masquerading as a guru of innovation.
In order to get to the bottom of this question, we’re going to take a look at Musk’s life broken down into 6 stages, taking a revealing look at the good, the bad, and the ugly to definitively see if this man of mystery is the heroic techno-messiah that he presents himself as, or if maybe he has some skeletons lurking in his closet.
Stick around to see why Elon was furious after Tesla revealed their first concept car. It should have been a time to celebrate, but Musk was left feeling completely snubbed by the aftermath of the momentous unveiling.
When Elon was young he had this uncanny appetite for learning. It’s been reported that he would a book a day.
After he managed to convince his father to purchase a Commodore VIC-20 computer – a dinosaur by today’s standards – he quickly immersed himself into learning all the ins-and-outs of the piece of archaic machinery. Most people would have needed 6 months to master all the basics of the system but Elon tirelessly engrossed himself in his studies for 3 days straight and finished all of the lessons.
To top it off, he then designed a complete video game on the platform. The source code of which was published in a tech magazine earning him an award of $500.
It’s not unusual for kids to be bullied when they are growing up. Musk didn’t evade this fact of life. Sometimes his foes would even beat him up, and one time this unfortunate reality landed him in the hospital for a whole week.
Elon’s father is one of the most mysterious components of his private life. We can’t say definitively, but it’s very possible that he was abusive – whether this was physically or mentally remains to be seen.
Musk has consistently refused to talk about this aspect of his childhood. He was quoted as saying once that his dad was skilled at making his life miserable and that he didn’t know how anyone could become like him.
Early Business Years
He departed South Africa with very little money and with no one by his side. He moved to Canada where he struggled to find permanent housing, bouncing from one place to another. Then his brother came to his aid.
They ventured to Palo Alto and started their first tech business, Zip2, which was basically a very primordial form of Google Maps. It would eventually sell for 307 million dollars. Suddenly, Musk had more money than he knew what to do with.
Elon and his brother might have created a successful business, but they were struggling with their investors who were pushing for the product to be geared towards media companies as a business directory instead of the Business-to-Customer model that they had intended. Around this time, Elon went through his first major merger crisis as well, setting the stage for a recurring theme for his future endeavors.
Even though just a decade prior he was essentially homeless in Canada, Elon was now one of the richest people in Silicon Valley. He immediately put his new money to use by buying a Mclaren F1 – one of the fastest and most expensive cars in the world. He quickly developed the reputation in Palo Alto of being quite the jerk.
Young And Stupid Rich
Besides the McLaren – which he would eventually wreck while ‘showing what it could do’ – Elon invested a lot of his cash into his next major venture x.com. His new company revolutionized the way the industry looked at online banking. Up until then, people had very little faith in the security of banking on the internet.
He’d even beat out his largest competitor PayPal, resulting in a deal with Peter Thiel – it’s founder – for the two companies to merge while making Musk the largest shareholder.
You might be a little bit confused. A lot of folks think that Elon founded PayPal. Well apparently, while Elon was on a plane with his new wife on their way to their Honeymoon vacation spot, he was being forced out of his position as CEO back at x.com – in one of Silicon Vally’s dirtiest coup de tats in history. The company would then be rebranded as PayPal following the merger.
So yet again, just like his previous business merger, Elon had a nightmare to deal with. To add insult to injury, while he was on his Honeymoon, he ended up contracting malaria and barely survived the ordeal.
For six months he battled the wretched illness and he lost 45 pounds but eventually, he came out on top. Right around this time, eBay finalized their purchase of PayPal leaving Elon with a cool chunk of change to the tune of 250 million dollars.
This probably sounds incredible but according to the book The PayPal Wars which was published right after the acquisition, Elon was depicted as the nefarious villain of the company.
After Elon almost died from malaria, one of his childhood dreams was revived. He had always wanted to go to Mars and after visiting NASA.gov one day he found that there were no plans to venture to the Red Planet. He suddenly had a new – and highly ambitious – goal.
He took a trip to Russia hoping to buy a rocket, but he was quoted prices that were wildly unrealistic. So, he did what he always did when presented with a new problem that he didn’t know to solve – he hit the books. He vowed on his flight back from Russia that he would start his own space agency with his newfound knowledge of rocketry. That was the day SpaceX got its start.
When SpaceX was beginning to come together, Elon’s wife gave birth to his first son. He’d name the boy Nevada but shortly after his birth, he sadly passed away from sudden infant death syndrome. Musk was devastated.
At SpaceX, Elon’s reputation of being kind of a jerk continued to grow. He was well known to have insanely unrealistic expectations of his workers while also not giving them credit when it was due.
Steve Davis, one of SpaceX’s brightest minds. Experienced this first hand when he was tasked with fabricating a part that cost $120,000 on a budget of $5000.
Most other engineers in the aerospace industry wouldn’t have even attempted the task but Davis was committed to satisfying his boss’s request while proving his worth as an engineer. After nine months of painstaking work, he managed to produce the part at a jaw-dropping price tag of only $3,900.
When he excitedly emailed Elon with the good news, the only reply that he received from him was ‘OK’.
The Birth Of Tesla
Musk has always believed in the potential of electric vehicles. That’s why when Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning came to him with the prospect to be the first investor in their new company Tesla, he jumped on the opportunity.
He had the vision of Tesla being a symbol of a sustainable future. He wanted the line of cars to be geared towards a more affluent market. He didn’t want to just make another Prius.
When Tesla developed their first prototype, they had a huge high profile press event and managed to convince 30 well-to-do clients to purchase the $90,000 car.
The Press release failed to list Elon as the companies founder and the New York Times didn’t even mention Elon Musk in their coverage. He was furious, to say the least. You should stick around to see what Elon’s employees think about their hot-headed boss. We’ll get to that in a minute. And, if you enjoy watching our videos, do us a favor give us a like, subscribe to our channel, and turn on notifications by pressing the bell icon if you haven’t already.
Production on the first round of cars was going slow and the parts were far more expensive than Musk would have liked them to be. So he plotted his own scheme.
He approached the board and demanded that Martin Eberhard, the CEO, and co-founder of Tesla, be replaced. Musk took over the company fully in 2008. What a low-blow!
Managing Multiple Companies
Business can be tricky. Nothing is guaranteed. Remarkably, Musk has managed to successfully lead his companies though even the most uncertain times. In 2008 and 2013, Tesla almost went under, but both times, Elon’s level leadership pulled the company away from the brink of failure resulting in soaring stock rebounds. He might be a jerk, but he sure knows how to keep his cool and manage his businesses.
Elon continued to work his employees to death.
At one point during the development of The Model S, he had 2 sets of employees working all day and all night to finish up the design.
When the Dragon Capsule launched in 2010, you’d think Musk would have been thrilled, but he still pulled aside his top engineers at the launch party to yell at them about not completing a part for a future project on schedule.
While managing several companies at once, Elon’s ugly side began to be much more pronounced. His ex-wife Justine, Martin Eberhard – one of the co-founders of Tesla who Elon pushed out of the company, and Mary Beth Brown – Musk’s former executive assistant whom he fired abruptly when she requested fair pay – all attest that Elon can be unbearable to deal with at times.
Well, that’s enough about Musk’s life.
We’d love to hear from you. Do you think that Elon Musk is a force for good or do you think he is a supervillain? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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