Elon Musk Biography: Shaping All Our Futures


He is the 21st Century Howard Hughes, John
D. Rockefeller and Steve Jobs – all rolled into one dynamic package. His hunger for global change mirrors the sense
of adventure of the great explorers of the past. His ideas, considered crazy by everyone around
him, have opened up new frontiers as he continues to improve the world with the aid of technological
advancement. His goal to make the earth a better place
to live on has expanded to encompass the entire universe – including the possibility of supporting
human life on Mars. In this episode of Biographics, we get up
close and personal with the man who was the model for Marvel’s Iron Man movie franchise
character Tony Start… Of course, the man we are talking about is
Elon Musk. Early Life Elon Musk was born on June 28th, 1971 in Pretoria,
South Africa. His Canadian born mother was a dietitian,
with his father being a mechanical and electrical engineer. The boy had a natural leaning towards technology,
buying his first computer – a Commodore VIC 20 – with money he had saved when he was just
ten years old. By the age of twelve, he had created his own
video game, Blaster, which he sold for $500. As a pre-teen, he had already taught himself
computer programming. Musk’s life came to a crossroads in his
late teens when he was faced with compulsory military service in South Africa. While he had no problem with the thought of
serving his country in uniform, he was repulsed by the idea of being a part of a system that
suppressed the country’s indigenous black people. His desire was to get to America, the land
of opportunity, especially in regard to his growing fascination with all things related
to computer technology. To do so, however, he figured that he would
have to use Canada as a stepping stone. His mother was still a Canadian citizen and,
so steps were taken for Elon to acquire Canadian citizenship for himself. Move to North America After graduating from the Pretoria Boy’s
High School, he emigrated to Canada in June 1989, aged just seventeen. He had hardly any money and no real connections,
turning up on the doorsteps of distant relatives of his mother and being put to work on their
farms. As well as tending vegetables and shoveling
grain, he got a job at a lumber mill, cleaning out boilers. Then he managed to secure a job as an intern
clerk at a local bank. In 1990, he moved to Kingston, Ontario where
he began a science degree at the Queen’s University. Two years later, he was able to achieve his
goal of living in the United States, transferring his studies to the University of Pennsylvania. Within two more years he graduated with double
degrees, in science and business. It was around this time that Musk came across
a copy of the Douglas Adams book, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book, which revolves around a supercomputer
which is built to figure out the ultimate answer to the question of “life, the universe
and everything.” After 7.5 million years of computing, it spits
out the answer – the number 42. Along with that answer, the computer, which
can talk, adds some sage advice, telling the inquirer . . . “The problem with you, to be quite honest
with you, is that you never really know what the question is.” For Musk, reading that was a lightbulb moment. He later recalled . . . “It highlighted an important point, which
is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer.” By the time he emerged from university, Musk
wasn’t entirely sure what the questions were. But he knew that they were tied up in three
key areas: the internet, clean energy and outer space. In 1995, Musk enrolled himself in a Ph.D.
program for energy physics at Stanford University. Yet, after an attendance of just two days,
he decided to drop out in order to launch his first business. His love for physics never wavered, but he
saw greater opportunities in the burgeoning internet revolution – a way to make society
better – and himself richer. Zip2 Musk realized that, as more and more companies
established an online presence, they would need to have their printed materials converted
into digital documents. If he could fill that need, he would be onto
a winner. Elon teamed up with his younger brother Kimbal
to develop content publishing software designed for news and media companies. At a time, when many venture capitalists had
never even heard the word ‘internet’, it was a major risk. The product that the Musk brothers came up
with was called Zip2. It started life as a tool that would help
people to search for maps and directions on the internet, with people also being able
to post information through something similar to a micro-blogging system. Things were tough for Musk in these early
days. He had no money, not even enough to rent an
office and an apartment at the same time. So, he rented an office where he slept on
a futon, taking care of his personal hygiene down at the local “Y”. Staring with small newspapers, Musk was able
to quickly grow his client base. Agreements were made with large media companies,
including the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times to allow those companies to use
Zip2 to make their content readily available to their readers via the internet. The program was then used by many similar
companies, along with e-commerce sites, as a platform for their web presence. By 1999, the Zip2 Corporation was providing
web hosting, web development and maintenance services for close to two hundred websites. They came to the attention of the online city
guide CitySearch, who were interested in a merger. This deal didn’t work out, but another one
did. After just four years of operation, the Zip2
Corporation was sold to Compaq Computers for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock
options. PayPal At the age of 28, Elon Musk was a multi-millionaire. But, he was just getting started, and even
before the ink was dry on the Zip2 deal, he had thrown himself into his next venture – X.com. Musk’s vision was to create the world’s
first online bank and he invested $10 million to kick it off. The goal was to offer every service that you
could get from a conventional bank, but with the added benefit that you could send and
receive money securely using only your email address. X.com was an immediate success. After just a year of operation, it was merged
with a money transfer system called Confinity. The combined businesses were renamed Paypal
in 2001. Now working with Confinity founders Peter
Thiel and Max Levchin, the business dropped the idea of a fully functional online bank
and focused on the feature that seemed to grab everyone’s attention – the ability
to send money to and from anyone who had the same app. At this early stage, the system relied on
a Windows based handheld device. During the first months of the merger, from
January 1999 to October 2000, Musk was CEO of X-com. During this time he set up a viral system
that grew it into the world’s largest e-mail payment system. New customers were offered a twenty dollar
cash card, along with an additional ten dollars for referring a friend. Within two months, more than a hundred thousand
new customers came onboard. But not all was well within the company’s
management. The problem was Musk’s management style,
which can best be described as dictatorial. Both Thiel and Levchin found it difficult
to work with him. They were especially frustrated at his need
to micromanage everything. Disputes and divisions arose over which technologies
to use and how to brand the company. As a result of such divisions, Thiel and Levchin
organized a coup against CEO Musk while he was meeting with prospective customers overseas. He returned to the country to discover that
he had been fired as CEO by the board and replaced by Thiel. Shortly thereafter the name of the company
was changed to PayPal. From there it grew exponentially, leading
to a buy out by Ebay in 2002. The cost of the sale was a staggering 1.5
billion dollars. As the largest shareholder, Musk walked away
with $165 million. SpaceX Even before PayPal was sold, Musk was on to
his next business venture. Ever since he was a child he had been fascinated
by space exploration. He had been an avid science fiction reader
– now he had the money to turn fiction into reality. He was convinced that the earth was destined
to collapse as a life sustaining planet. The sooner we started working on the technology
required for interplanetary travel and for sustaining life beyond Earth, the better. In discussions with a friend one day, Musk
complained that, despite the vast improvements in the technology industry, the space industry
has lagged sorrowfully behind. Since man had set foot on the moon way back
in 1969 it appeared to him that no meaningful progress had been made. He was determined to change that and his third
company, Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, was to be his platform to do it. A major goal of SpaceX is to create a space
vehicle that can take people, equipment and other necessary resources to Mars and to build
a transportation infrastructure that will allow humans to become a multi-planetary species. When Musk let the world in on his vision,
he was immediately subjected to ridicule. Industry experts dismissed him as a rich,
bored playboy, claiming that his physics degree and previous business ventures hardly made
him qualified to conceptualize, develop and build rockets. However, they were underestimating Musk, who
was not only a quick study, but who also brought on board the best engineers from top aerospace
companies such as Boeing, TWA and NASA. Musk was disappointed that NASA seemed disinterested
in space exploration. He wanted to pique the public’s interest
in order to encourage NASA to increase their allocated funds on a project to land a device
on Mars and then build a bubble bioverse. He also wanted to introduce a cheaper and
safer alternative to Space shuttle travel. He was struck by the fact that the Russians
were able to produce rockets that were cheaper and safer than anything the Americans could
come out with. He traveled to Russia in an attempt to purchase
a ‘refurbished ICBM’, but the deal became too complicated. Musk next set his sights on creating and successfully
launching a reusable rocket, which he called Falcon 1, that could fly off to space, return
to Earth and then be launched back to space again. The first scheduled launch for Falcon 1 was
in 2005, yet three years later, after multiple failed attempts, Falcon 1 was still to have
its first successful flight. Finally, on its fourth attempt, Falcon 1,
successfully launched. On the back of this success, SpaceX was able
to secure a $1.6 billion contract from NASA involving 12 future flights on their rocket,
Falcon 9, to the International Space Station. Musk has estimated that SpaceX’s efforts
can minimize the U.S. government’s expenses by around $1 billion per year… Electric Cars Musk has always been fascinated by cars and
specifically by the dream of creating a breed of electric cars that totally transform the
driving experience. While he was still a sophomore at university,
he had become aware of the world’s depleting resources. What was needed was an alternative source
of fuel, one that would not produce the carbon emissions that were damaging the environment. It was from these ideas that Musk decided
to pursue electric cars. A year after launching SpaceX, Musk was introduced
to Al Ciccone and Tom Gage of AC Propulsion, the company behind an all electric car known
as the Tzero. Musk was interested in mass producing the
Tzero, but Ciccone and Gage showed no interest. They did, however, introduce Musk to a group
of men who were dedicated to finding a more environmentally friendly vehicle. In July 2003, Musk teamed with three of them,
Ian Wright, Marc Tarpening and Martin Eberhard to form the Tesla Corporation, in recognition
of the father of AC induction motors, Nikola Tesla. From the very beginning, Tesla faced an uphill
battle. The concept of an electric car was years away
from capturing the public attention. And, just as was the case with SpaceX, the
question was loudly asked how a visionary with no experience in the car industry could
successfully establish a new company and a new product and stand against the industry
giants. What’s more, they were attempting to do
something that those industry giants had been unable to do. In fact, Robert Lutz, CEO of General Motors,
stated that lithium ion technology for cars was at least 10 years into the future. As a result of the lack of industry enthusiasm,
very few investors wanted anything to do with Tesla. In fact, Musk had to fund the majority of
the operations of the company himself. The goal of having the first roadstar rolling
off the assembly line by 2007 never materialized, as costs continued to mount. Just as with X.com years earlier, tensions
arose among the management. Musk, who was Chairman of the Board, had no
faith in Martin Eberhard, the president of the company. Before long Eberhard had been ousted and Musk
put himself in full control. He was now the CEO of two start ups. Even for a dynamo like Musk, this was too
much. Still, he had to make both companies work. His master plan for Tesla was to build a luxury
electric sports car, along with a line of more affordable cars, and an electric powered
car with zero emissions. In 2008, the first Roadstar was shipped out. This $110,000 electric sports car could run
for 200 miles on a single charge and was capable of going from 0-60 miles per hours in less
than 4 seconds. The more family affordable electric car was
called the Tesla Model S. Its release began in June of 2012. Sales took off, and there are currently 500
rolling off the production lines every week. As well as being the CEO of Tesla, Musk is
also the chairman of the board of directors of another environmental company, SolarCity. While not the founder of the company, he is
very involved in achieving the company’s mission to deliver complete solar energy systems
to the end users without the cost of any up-front fees. It also promised reduced utility bills for
all of its customers. By offering free installation and zero down
payment to homeowners, Musk has made it easier for consumers to afford solar energy and has
revolutionized the way the solar industry is run. SolarCity had enjoyed tremendous growth and
success, with clients that include eBay, Wal-Mart and the U.S. Military, making it the number
one solar power service provider in the United States. Hyperloop As if being an industry leader in space travel,
electric cars and solar power isn’t enough, in August 2013, Musk proposed a completely
new mode of personal transport. He called it the ‘Hyperloop.’ The concept will allow people to travel between
large cities at the speed of sound, allowing passengers to go from San Francisco to L.A.
in about 30 minutes. It involves a vacuum sealed pod that rides
on top of electromagnetic waves, in much the same way as a surfer’s board rides an ocean’s
waves. The pods will glide across the track at speeds
of many hundreds of miles per hour. This eliminates the problem of friction created
by wheels on tracks. The same month that Musk unveiled plans for
Hyperloop, the crowdsourcing and collaboration platform JumpStartFund was established. Comprised of more than a hundred engineers,
developers and investors, the group took on Hyperloop as their first project. In 2014 they formed Hyperloop Transportation
Technologies, and undertook a feasibility study. In 2015, Musk ran a student competition to
design and build HyperLoop pods. A SpaceX sponsored mile long track was built
to run the pods on. On July 20th, 2017 Musk announced that he
had gained ‘verbal government approval’ to build a Hyperloop track between New York
City and Washington, D.C. Elon Musk is one guy who it is a challenge
to keep up with. In the twelve months from December 2015 to
December 2016 he started no less than three companies – Open AI, a not-for-profit artificial
intelligence research company, Neuralink, a neurotechnology start-up with the aim of
integrating the human brain with A.I and The Boring Company, which aims to bring down the
cost of tunnel boring by ten-fold. Personal Life Elon Musk has been married two times. He met his first wife, Justine Wilson, while
they were both students at Queen’s University in Ontario. They tied the knot in 2000. Justine is a fantasy novelist who described
her life with Elon as a ‘dream lifestyle’ that was empty at the core. Her husband was so focused on his work that,
even when he was at home, his mind didn’t seem to be there. The marriage ended in 2008 in a very messy
public sdivorce. Elon and Justine have five children together,
a set of twins and a set of triplets. Musk met his second wife, Talulah Riley, at
a London nightclub. They were married just six weeks after he
filed for divorce from Justine. The wedding took place at Skibo Castle in
Scotland – he was 39, she was 23. Things apparently didn’t go well, with Musk
announcing their separation just two years later on Twitter . . .
@rileytalulah It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day. The couple got back together in 2014, but
a divorce was finalized towards the end of 2016. When it comes to the future of Elon Musk,
the best advice is to watch this space. He has never backed down from his ambition
to travel to Mars and, possibly, retire there one day. Until that happens we can be assured that
he will continue to revolutionize the way that the world consumes energy, benefits from
technology, and travels into space.

100 thoughts on “Elon Musk Biography: Shaping All Our Futures

  1. Vote for the Biography you want us to next. Click here to vote:
    http://biographics.org/you-choose-the-biography/

  2. He should buy one of those Trump named S-H countries. There is an organization of scientists, mathematicians, economists, educators etc. Contract out a transformation of that country as a demo project.

  3. I have a request: Can you discuss Elizabeth Sladen? Or even Caroline John?

  4. I was programming my Atari 600XL by the time I was 9. It doesn't mean you're a genius, trust me.

  5. Perhaps Elon could revolutionise the platform for small video content creators, giving somewhere for people to show their low to zero budget video productions……like what the You Tube concept started out as, before all the greed killed small creator content from being seen by the wider viewer base. Elon retiring to Mars….now that would be an iconic end no one could match…..

  6. Many thanks for this Simon. One interesting thing about his latest venture "Starlink Satellites", is that the sheer number that they plan to put into low earth orbit is going to cause major headaches about the effects of collisions and launching windows. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Over time these orbits will decay and where they end up is anyone's guess. At 500 kilometers up these satellites will receive all the components that cause orbital decay. And unless you you use a boost system, these items will end up falling back to earth.

  7. Godking Musk owns the heart of every science enthusiast in the world

  8. I wasn't aware that the coolest person to ever exist actually exists

  9. Elon Musk is exactly the right guy at the exact right time in history with the exact right companies and vision that this world needs. We should all be thankful this man even exsists right now. Having said that…I'm headed out tomorrow morning to pick up my brand new Model S. ✊

  10. Elon Musk, one of the richest space cadets on Earth and beyond!

  11. Elon Musk has the potential to make most of our science fiction dreams reality. If visionaries like Musk have their way, that space faring, sci-fi utopia will be ours for the taking!

  12. Martial artist and aspiring revolutionary here…. hopefully you’ll be doing me one day. Cheers 🍺

  13. “NASA seemed disinterested in space exploration”

    Wtf?

    Oh yea…. they don’t want their conspiracies exposed. Got it

  14. No he's a wannabe Edison and uses the intrigue of Tesla for marketing his imagination. Living an extraordinary existence on Mars was is and will be a state of mind that only a Psychiatrist prescribing potent drugs can cure. He's just a Paypal quasi banker not a true visionary just another disillusioned American billionaire that thinks money will buy him genius thinking on a transcendental level.

  15. I think Elon Musk is persuing many unrealistic pipe dreams. Instead of wasting money on spaceflights he should help the poor in third world countries, but like all rich people he is to caught up in lala land to even think about it.

  16. Elon makes Henry Ford look like a model builder. The future is for those who grasp it now.

  17. From what i did seen in this video, Elon Musk is definitely someone who alredy did and will revolutionary our lifes. I hope he succed in his visions, what ever he starts.

  18. I've been bingeing on the Whistler for over a week now.

  19. He just re-issues old ideas and claims he was the first one who has thought of it. He is hardly a genius.

  20. Elon Musk removed 2 rib bones in order to be able to blow himself.. true story

  21. You guys should check out JRE's podcast with Elon Musk! I've got to words to describe this amazing human.

  22. Read the book by Robert Heinlein "The Man Who Sold The Moon". Pretty much describes Musk's life. Amazingly parallel.

  23. Well, I think I wasted my life…

    Really, though, I’m just not THAT smart.

  24. Electric car are not green without Green power Tesla tracks have disappeared we have not lived in Antarctica without a power food and all life support coming the rest of the world good wishes for his the future

  25. There is a video of an interview with Elon and his brother. His brother mentions that they originally stayed in the US illegally and Elon said not to talk about it.

  26. This video: Dec 7, 2017
    Now: 2019 = Elon Musk in the meme economy!!!

  27. Elon is smart but a huge bullshitter with no business sense…
    Hence his crappy cars and huge losses on solar panels cars etc…
    When investors realize they are subsidizing Elon's insanity they will cut funds.

  28. Tony Stark was based on Howard Hughes. Maybe you mean the updated movie version is based on Musk. Not the 1963 original comic book version.

  29. Greatest tech achievement, having a hairline that suddenly rejuvenated in his 30s 🙂

  30. You forgot to mention Wernher von Braun's 1949 fictional book "Project Mars: A Technical Tale". In this book, when we get to Mars we find an advanced civilization. The head of their government is entitled "Elon".

  31. Everyone seems to ignore the fact this man made a huge part of his wealth by taxpayers money.

  32. What is it about the grandfather paradox is it cos it's the grandmother that paints Phainops and hypsiphrone

  33. Tesla and Newton met on his lucid walks just like Albert Hoffman and Carl Gustafson Jung

  34. If you find time check the footnote of the MAJIC project in berlin

  35. It's fascinating that when he came up with all these merges people always doubted and he always proved them wrong. He probably thrived on that.

  36. Elon musk
    The man who sells poorly built cars for mega dollars and holds the monopoly on repairs for said vehicles and not honouring warranty for his customers.
    Then when he realises he cannot sustain profits sends his production overseas 😂 oh he has also sold a flamethrower
    Yeah wow to you Elon

  37. South Africa before Nelson Mandela was far superior to the South Africa of today

  38. Jake from Hugo and Jake has a quick response to this video, mostly to do with a lot of swear words and quotes

  39. Are you rushing to publish? At 11:54 you say Tesla when I think you meant Musk. Otherwise, a fascinating bio.

  40. "Real life Tony Stark"? Maybe. He just doesn't have that iconic mustache/goatee, and, he looks like Malcolm Merlyn from "Arrow".

  41. Lutz was a Shill for the Fossil fuel industry. Oh that was when the Government bailed out GM. huh

  42. what an inspiring person . i'm in my 5th year of med school and after seeing this i decided to become a neurosurgeon by what ever it takes.

  43. Massively successful people make me both happy,
    And depressed at my own shortcomings.

  44. I think we will find out that big oil companies have put a contract out for his life! One day it'll be that he's died in a mysterious accident.

  45. S-Lutz is still right….Li-ion batteries for cars is still a thing of the future 😀

  46. Shaping our futures and setting fire to Wal Marts! LOL. He's big on vision and high tech, but not so much at running a profitable and efficient business. Tesla's are even less reliable than Chrysler products.

  47. Musk was not the model for iron man. Do your research . Iron man was created in the 60's.

  48. If you think of it NASA was just a venue for the USA to develop ICBM technology.

  49. Mush was not the model for Iron-man ! This Marvel character existed back in the 1970s.

  50. Do a Biographics on Sir Henry Royce, the founder of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.

  51. He’s not tony stark. He doesn’t have a flying suit of armor and hasn’t saved the world from an alien invasion. He created a way for people to spend their money easier and a car that isn’t affordable nor reliable. Too much praise just yet. We’ll see by the end of his life what he really accomplishes

  52. If there was a space titanic movie i would want him to voice or play the designer of the titanic.

  53. Stick to talking about dead people so we dont see so many of the things you got wrong

  54. I wonder if he ever had a sit down conversation with Niel De grass Tyson about space and AI. I wouldn't have a clue what they were talking about .

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