Unless you have been living under a rock, you would have definitely heard of Elon Musk. Everyone may not know an impressive amount of information about this man, but there’s not a soul that is not going gaga over him. Let’s get to know this real-life Tony Stark a little better, shall we?
Elon Musk: the real-life Iron Man , Image source: CNBC.com
Today, Elon Musk may be familiar as the multimillionaire inventor who can have the moon (or should we say Mars?). But life was not always a bed of roses for him, though he was quite the gifted child. He was always an introvert and hence chose to keep himself socially isolated. As a teenager, while other kids would play sport or party, Musk could most often be spotted in libraries. Hence, he was continuously bullied by his peers. Not letting this get in his way, he read voraciously, learning many skills. By virtue of this, he became a self-taught programmer by the age of 12, and even made $500 by selling his own game, which he called ‘Blastar’.
Musk in his childhood , Image source: Bornrealist.com
Having always been drawn to physics since childhood, it was no surprise that Musk pursued the same at the University of Pennsylvania. But, not many know that this was his second undergraduate degree. His first was in Economics, also from the same university. Post this, he enrolled himself for a PhD in Energy Physics at the prestigious Stanford University, only to leave in less than 48 hours. The dot-com boom had just begun, and Musk was drawn to it like iron nails to a magnet. He made quite the gutsy move by deciding not to return to ‘finish his studies’, and instead launched his first-of-many companies. Thus, Zip2 Corporation was born.
The logo of Zip2 Corporation , Image source: Onedio.co
Zip2 was an online guide of the city, which went on to provide content for The New York Times website and the Chicago Tribune website, both of which were just budding at the time. Within the blink of an eye, it was 1999, and Zip2 was bought by a computer corporation for a whopping sum, making Musk a multimillionaire when he was just shy of his 30th birthday. Post his overnight riches, he used a fraction of the money to start Company #2, X.com, in the same year. You may recognise this humble venture by the name PayPal today.
Musk with PayPal CEO Peter Thiel (left) , Image source: Time.com
All this entrepreneurship aside, Musk was a die-hard lover of sci-fi. He was compelled by his childhood dream of looking at a life on Mars. It was now that he decided that it was time to realise this dream and turn it into a reality. He tried to negotiate with the Soviets to buy their missiles, but the figures they quoted were way out of Musk’s budget. That’s when a thought struck him. If the cost of space travel continued to skyrocket (nudge nudge), how could humanity be enticed towards this possibility? Think. Think. Musk took a quick call to DIY the whole thing of course! The year was 2002, and Space Exploration Technologies, AKA SpaceX, kicked off with a big bang.
Musk at SpaceX , Image source: Quartz.com
Today, everyone would agree that Musk makes moonwalks look like cakewalks. His successful missions such as Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy have grabbed eyeballs across the globe. And he has no plans of stopping any time soon. In late 2017, the South African inventor proposed a design for a mammoth Big Falcon Rocket (BFR), which would transport 100 people to space. With this beast, he plans to launch the first cargo mission to Mars by 2022. Whoa!
Amidst all this talk about space, one cannot forget his role at Tesla Motors as its CEO and product architect. A tireless crusader of sustainable energy, his passion shines through in everything that he does through the company. It is with this passion that Musk also acquired SolarCity Corp. in 2016, to aid the ideas churning out of Tesla Motors. As someone constantly looking at alternative lifestyle choices for a healthier planet, he also developed the concept of the transportation system called ‘Hyperloop’. According to Musk, its implementation would cut travel durations between places by a significant amount. A step further in the same direction was The Boring Company, to burrow its way wherever required, with the aim of combating traffic. Yet another feather in his hat is OpenAI, a non-profit that works towards ensuring that Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhances the human condition without destroying humanity. He seems to have got every possible base covered, doesn’t he?
Of course. He wasn’t the inspiration for Iron Man without reason.