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TOPIC

Who Is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk is an American-based entrepreneur best known for earning significant wealth through the development and sale of web software and online banking services, which he then used to establish a number of technological research companies.

 

Dropping out of a doctorate in applied physics and materials science in 1995 at age 24, Musk started an online web services company with his younger brother, Kimbal. The venture – named Zip2 – was sold for more than US$300 million in 1999, and Musk used his share to found an online banking services company called X.com.

The following year X.com merged with the company behind the digital banking giant PayPal, which was subsequently sold to eBay for US$1.5 billion.

As of the writing of this article, Musk is estimated to be worth close to US$40 billion.

What tech companies has Musk played a role in founding and developing?

Musk has used his wealth over the decades to start and support numerous businesses researching innovations largely focussed on transport and space exploration. Below are a few examples.

SpaceX

What started in 2002 as a vision for landing a greenhouse on Mars quickly became a major commercial space technology enterprise, providing traditional government programs with transport into low earth orbit.

In addition to developing 'Dragon' reusable space capsules for astronaut and cargo delivery, SpaceX set a world first by sending privately funded liquid-propulsion systems into orbit.

 

Tesla

Tesla Motors was founded in early 2003 by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning as a way to develop high performance electric vehicles. The following year, after becoming an incorporated company, the pair invited Musk to invest in their venture.

Eberhard left the company in the wake of the global financial crisis several years later, followed by Musk taking on leadership as CEO and product architect in 2008.

Since then, Tesla has become a world leader not just in electric vehicle development but in pushing the boundaries on battery technology.

The Boring Company

Stuck in traffic in 2016, Musk famously tweeted that he was "going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging".

Within a year he had created a company with the purpose of developing programs to dig large scale tunnels beneath major cities in order to overcome traffic congestion.

Neuralink

In 2017 Musk founded a non-transport company called Neuralink, with the goal of developing technology that could facilitate better interfaces between nervous systems and computer technology.

Biographical details

Born: June 28, 1971, in Praetoria, South Africa, to a Canadian dietician Maye Musk and South African electromechanical engineer, Errol Musk.

As a person: Musk is variously seen as a 'Lex Luthor' or 'Tony Stark' type figure, the comparisons a reflection of how the media views his eccentric lifestyle and often sensational claims.

 

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