Elon Musk’s life story: Tesla CEO’s early years, career, controversies

Elon Musk was born in Pretoria (South Africa) on June 28, 1971. Musk’s mother Maye is a dietitian and model. She’s been featured on Special K cereal boxes and on the cover of Time magazine. She signed a contract with CoverGirl in 2017 at the age of just 69. The 9-year-old Musk and Kimbal, his younger brother, moved in with their father after their parents divorced in 1979. His troubled relationship with his father only became apparent after the move. Musk stated that it was not a good idea to move in with his dad in a Rolling Stone interview.

Musk, then 12, sold “Blastar”, a simple arcade game to a computer magazine in exchange for $500. Musk called it “a trivial, but better than Flappy Bird.”

Musk was beaten by bullies during his school days. Musk was thrown down a flight of stairs by the bullies and beaten until he blacked out. Musk graduated from high school and moved to Canada with Maye, his sister Tosca and Kimbal. He spent two years at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. He earned degrees in economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Musk and a classmate, while studying at the University of Pennsylvania rented a 10-bedroom frat house and made it into a nightclub. This was Musk’s first venture. He partnered with Adeo Ressi. Musk returned to Stanford University after graduation to pursue his Ph.D. However, he only completed the program a few days before he left it. After only two days in California, Musk decided to defer his admission and try his luck in the dot-com boom. He didn’t return to Stanford to complete his Stanford studies.

Musk founded Zip2 with his brother Kimbal. The company provided city guides and news articles to newspapers such as The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. It was funded by a group of Silicon Valley investors. Musk lived in Zip2’s office while the company was being launched. He also volunteered at the local YMCA. Compaq purchased Zip2 for $341 million in stock and cash, which earned Musk $22 million.

Musk then founded X.com, an internet banking company. The Zip2 sale gave him $10 million to start the company. X.com merged in 2012 with Confinity, a financial startup founded by Peter Thiel to create PayPal. The newly created PayPal was headed by Musk, but it would not last. He started a major fight with the PayPal cofounders in October 2000 by demanding that they move their servers from Unix to Microsoft Windows. Max Levchin, a PayPal co-founder and former CTO, resisted hard. Musk was on his way to Australia to take a much-needed vacation. However, PayPal’s board fired Levchin and appointed Thiel as its new CEO. Musk said to Fortune many years later about his disastrous trip to Australia in late 2000 that “that’s the problem of vacations.” However, things turned out well for Musk when he bought PayPal in 2002. He was PayPal’s largest shareholder and he made $165 million from the $1.5 billion eBay paid.

Musk had been planning his next move long before PayPal was sold. He even thought of sending plants or mice to Mars. Musk created Space Exploration Technologies in 2002 with $100 million from the PayPal sale. Musk wanted to make spaceflight less expensive by a factor of 10. One of the early vehicles was named after “Puff The Magic Dragon”. Musk was mocking skeptics when he named the Dragon the spacecraft. SpaceX’s long-term goal, according to Musk, is to make Mars colonization affordable. Musk stated that SpaceX will not file for an initial public offer until the “Mars Colonial Transporter”, as Musk calls it, is flying regularly.

Musk has been busy with Tesla Motors, and here on Earth as well. Musk invested the first $70 million in Tesla Motors, a company that produces electric cars. It was co-founded by Martin Eberhard, a veteran startup executive. Musk was an active participant in the product development of Tesla’s first car, called the Roadster. Musk, then Tesla’s chairman, introduced the all-electric Roadster in 2006. Now, he’s also the company’s CEO.

Musk also came up with the idea of SolarCity, a company that produces solar energy. Musk provided the working capital for SolarCity to be started in 2006 by Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive, his cousins. In a $2.6billion deal, Tesla purchased SolarCity in late 2016. Musk orchestrated a boardroom coup at Tesla in 2007, first removing Eberhard as CEO and then removing him from the company’s board.

Musk saved Tesla from bankruptcy in 2008 when the financial crisis severely limited his options. Musk invested $40 million in Tesla and lent the company another $40 million. He was also named the company’s CEO that year. Musk almost went bankrupt due to the combination of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity. He calls 2008 “the worst year” in his life. Tesla was losing money and SpaceX was having difficulty launching its Falcon 1 rocket. Musk was living on personal loans to make ends meet in 2009 just to survive.

Musk’s personal life was also turbulent: Musk and Justine, a Canadian author, divorced in 2008. They were married in 2000. Their first child, Nevada, was killed by SIDS when he was only 10 weeks old. The Musks had twins and triplets boys later.

Later that year, Musk began dating Talulah Riley, an actress. They were married in 2010 and divorced in 2012. They remarried in July 2013. Musk filed for divorce in December 2014. However, he withdrew his paperwork. Riley filed for divorce in March 2016. The divorce was finalized in October.

Musk received two pieces of good news right around Christmas 2008. SpaceX had secured a $1.5 million contract with NASA to transport supplies into space. And Tesla finally found outside investors. Tesla completed its successful initial public offering in June 2010. The IPO raised $226 million, making it the largest IPO since Ford in 1956. Musk purchased shares in the offering worth approximately $15 million to get his finances on track.

Musk’s remarkable career was beginning to be noticed by other circles, most notably Hollywood. Musk is at least partially responsible for Robert Downey Jr. portraying Tony Stark in “Iron Man.” Musk even made an appearance in “Iron Man 2”.

SpaceX had launched 24 missions by the end of 2015 on various assignments, including resupplying the International Space Station with supplies and setting many records. The SpaceX Falcon 9 was the first successful ocean landing for a reusable orbital rocket in 2016. In February 2018, the Falcon Heavy, which is the successor to Falcon 9, launched its maiden flight. It was the most powerful rocket SpaceX had ever built. The Falcon Heavy was carrying a unique payload, a dummy nicknamed “Starman” and Musk’s cherry red Tesla Roadster. It was launched towards Martian orbit.

Musk is never satisfied with his current ideas. The Hyperloop is a super-high-speed train traveling in a vacuum tube. It could transport passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in just 30 minutes. Musk created another company, The Boring Company in 2016, following a similar model. Its mission is to build a network under and around cities for high-speed, no-traffic driving.

Musk also co-founded OpenAI in late 2015. This non-profit is dedicated to the research and development of artificial intelligence, as well as ensuring that it does not destroy humanity. Musk announced later that he would resign from the board in order to avoid conflicts of interest with Tesla. Tesla has made significant progress in artificial intelligence for self-driving cars.

Musk also founded Neuralink in 2017, which is working to create devices that can be implanted into the brain.

Musk was a mate with Amber Heard (Aquaman) but they split in 2017. After a year of dating, Musk and Amber separated. Musk later stated in an interview with Rolling Stone, that the breakup was extremely difficult for him.

Politically, the year was not a good one. Musk joined Trump’s business advisory board, which caused a huge backlash. After Trump pulled the US from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Musk initially supported the move. However, he resigned. Musk claimed that he tried to persuade Trump to not withdraw.

Musk and Grimes began a relationship in spring 2018. After they shared the same nerdy joke on artificial intelligence, it was reported that they struck up a friendship.

Musk got into trouble in 2018 after he tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla private for $420 per share. He had also secured funding. A few days later, Tesla was subpoenaed by the SEC. The subpoenas were about Musk’s comments and the company’s plans for going private. The SEC filed a lawsuit against Musk in September accusing him of making misleading and false statements. The SEC settled Musk’s case against him, resulting in Tesla and Musk paying a $20m fine. Musk also agreed to resign as Tesla’s chairman. Tesla also had to appoint an oversight committee for Musk’s communications.

Musk unveiled the Cybertruck, Tesla’s first and most anticipated pickup truck in November 2019. Musk was spotted several times in the truck since the unveiling. He has also been seen out and about at Nobu with Grimes. Musk was able to win a victory in court a month later when a jury found him not guilty of insulting Vernon Unsworth, a British diver. Unsworth had brought a defamation suit against Musk in 2018 after Musk called him “a pedo guy” via Twitter.

In January 2020, Grimes posted a picture of herself in which she looked pregnant. Later, the musician confirmed with Musk that she was pregnant.

Musk has been vocal about the US coronavirus crisis since March 2020, when he tweeted that panic was dumb and that panic was the best thing for the country. Musk has misinformation and called shelter-in-place US orders “fascist” since then. Musk recently stated that despite having a large real estate portfolio, he would not own any house and would sell nearly all of his possessions. According to reports, he has sold several of his California property.

Grimes gave birth on May 4, 2020, to a boy whom the couple called X AE AXii Musk or “X Ash A-12 Musk.” He is affectionately called “X” by the couple.

SpaceX achieved two significant milestones in 2020. First, SpaceX partnered with NASA in May to launch its first astronauts into space. SpaceX sent four astronauts to the International Space Station in November for their first “operational” human spaceflight. This was followed by a six-month stay at the Station. Tesla had another good year. It joined the S&P 500 on December 1, which saw its stock soar and its market value reach over $894 billion.

Musk made the announcement in late 2020 that he was moving to Texas because of a dispute with California about coronavirus lockdowns. Musk has since stated that he would like to build a city around SpaceX launch facilities, known as “Starbase”. Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live,” his first appearance on the show in May. Both Grimes and Maye, his mother, made an appearance on the show.

Page Six reported in September that Musk and Grimes had split after three years of being together. At the time, he said that they were “semi separated” but still loved one another and were “on great terms.”

Musk’s long-running dispute with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos escalated when SpaceX and Blue Origin, Bezos’s rival company, argued over NASA contracts. Musk taunted Bezos when he became the world’s wealthiest person by using the silver-medal emoticon.

Musk is now the world’s wealthiest person, surpassing Bill Gates and Bernard Arnault, as a result of Tesla’s stock surge. The world learned that Musk was the father of Exa Dark Siderael Musk’s first child, via surrogate. Grimes said that Musk and Grimes are not back together but that their relationship is “very fluid” and they intend to have more children.

Musk, who owned a 9.2% stake in Twitter, became the largest shareholder of the company in April 2022. Twitter rejected Musk’s attempt to purchase the social network but accepted Musk’s offer to acquire it for $44 billion.

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