Who Is Elon Musk?
Elon Musk is a South African-born American entrepreneur and businessman who founded X.com in 1999 (which later became PayPal), SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk became a multimillionaire in his late 20s when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers.
Musk made headlines in May 2012, when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. He bolstered his portfolio with the purchase of SolarCity in 2016 and cemented his standing as a leader of industry by taking on an advisory role in the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration.
In January 2021, Musk reportedly surpassed Jeff Bezos as the wealthiest man in the world.
Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. As a child, Musk was so lost in his daydreams about inventions that his parents and doctors ordered a test to check his hearing.
At about the time of his parents’ divorce, when he was 10, Musk developed an interest in computers. He taught himself how to program, and when he was 12 he sold his first software: a game he created called Blastar.
Musk launched his first company, Zip2 Corporation, in 1995 with his brother, Kimbal Musk. An online city guide, Zip2 was soon providing content for the new websites of both The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. In 1999, a division of Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options.
In 1999, Elon and Kimbal Musk used the money from their sale of Zip2 to found X.com, an online financial services/payments company. An X.com acquisition the following year led to the creation of PayPal as it is known today.
In October 2002, Musk earned his first billion when PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock. Before the sale, Musk owned 11 percent of PayPal stock.
Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX was well established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station—with plans for astronaut transport in the future—in a move to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.