Elon Musk, Man of the Year in 'Time': all about the Tesla billionaire's hectic life

Elon Musk: Man of the Year according to Time
The ups and downs of Elon Musk
Was Elon Musk born rich?
Errol Musk, Elon's father
Elon Musk's relationship with his father
Computer nerd at 12
Elon and his brother Kimbal
Wharton School
A real entrepreneur in college
Stanford: a PhD in Physics
Zip2
X.com
PayPal: Elon Musk owned much of it
Tesla
SpaceX
SolarCity: his road to billions
Elon Musk's net worth: one of the richest
SpaceX: his biggest bet
Unconventional: The Boring Company
A tweeting billionaire
Elon Musk and cryptocurrencies
Devoted to his work
Elon Musk and his seven children
A new baby boy: X Æ A-Xii
Tesla's Model 3
He slept on the floor at his office
If he could, he would sleep less
'No one should work this much'
Elon Musk smoking marihuana
Sometimes things don't go quite well
The moon and Mars will have to wait
An unexpected blast
A controlled fire without casualties
Elon Musk: always reaching higher
Elon Musk: Man of the Year according to Time

Elon Musk, 50 years old and declared Man of the Year 2021 by Time magazine. Who is this man, hovering between positions 1 and 3 on the list of richest people in the world? Is he self-made, as he would like to tell himself and others, or did he inherit his wealth?

The ups and downs of Elon Musk

The Tesla founder is rising so fast in the billionaire rankings that he even surpasses Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at times. How did Elon Musk where he is today? Let's go over his achievements, failures, and dreams, from Mars trips with SpaceX to self-driving cars and a project called 'The Boring Company.' Fasten your seatbelts!

Was Elon Musk born rich?

Elon Musk (left to his brother Kimbal on this photo) was born on June 28, 1971 in the South African city of Pretoria. His mother was Canadian and his father, Errol, South African. The latter owned a successful engineering business.

Journalists and biographers have written different responses to the question: did his parents' wealth help Elon get to where he is now?

(Photo, IG @mayemusk)

Errol Musk, Elon's father

Errol Musk, Elon's father, is a controversial figure in his life story. According Ashlee Vance's biography of Elon Musk, “the family owned one of the biggest houses in Pretoria thanks to the success of Errol’s engineering business." According to The Mail on Sunday, “Musk senior was a millionaire before the age of 30.”

(Photo: Facebook, Errol Musk)

Elon Musk's relationship with his father

Reporters have also found, however, that Elon hardly benefitted from his father's wealth. When he was eight years old, his parents divorced. His mother Maye recalls having to eat peanutbutter sandwiches because they had no money. And even though Elon kept in touch with his rich father, he says he was "a terrible human being" and abusive to his children.

Computer nerd at 12

Business Insider calls Elon's youth "excruciating." The bookish boy was bullied by both his classmates and his father. However, he also managed to learn to program and sold the source code for his first video game (worth $500) when he was only twelve years old. He did therefore benefit from having access to a computer, besides living as a white kid in Apartheid South Africa.

Elon and his brother Kimbal

Elon Musk's story is not clear-cut. Much of what he achieved, he did on his own. After high school, he left South Africa to study in Canada, his mother's home country. Along with his brother Kimbal, he worked on a summer scholarship at Nova Scotia Bank.

Wharton School

While studying at Queens University in Kingston, Canada, Musk made some money selling computers and custom-made equipment to his classmates. Two years later, he went to the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton business school on a partial scholarship.

A real entrepreneur in college

Musk recalls that he got into a lot of debt to finish college. "I worked my way through college," he tweeted, "ending up ~$100K in student debt." And what kind of work did he do as a student? Well, apparently he ran an underground bar from home with a friend. It made him "the equivalent of a month in one night."

Stanford: a PhD in Physics

After graduating from the Wharton School, he moved to Stanford to study for a doctorate in Physics. He did not finish the graduate program, though, because he left at age 24 to start his own business.

Zip2

Together with his brother, Elon started the Zip2 project in 1995. It was a digital guide to the city for small businesses, funded with $28,000. Elon recalls in a tweet that he "couldn't even afford a 2nd PC at Zip2." He "programmed at night & [the] website only worked during the day."

X.com

In 1999, the brothers sold Zip2 for $307 million and Elon Musk made $22 million. With more than half of that money he co-founded the X.com online banking service.

PayPal: Elon Musk owned much of it

The next project was PayPal, which Musk created along with competitors in the online payment industry. He was the leading shareholder. When he sold PayPal to Ebay in 2002, Elon Musk pocketed $180 million.

Tesla

After selling PayPal with a tremendous profit, Musk's focus was on the new development of electric cars. He co-founded Tesla, the electric car manufacturer, in 2003. It kept him very busy over the years.

SpaceX

Another ambitious company of Elon Musk is Space X, which aims to provide transportation into space for everyone.

(Image: Musk watching a Space X Falcon spacecraft take off on September 15, 2021)

SolarCity: his road to billions

But his new business ideas did not stop there. In 2006, Elon Musk joined the solar energy system provider SolarCity. This was the company that really set off his rise to billionaire world.

Elon Musk's net worth: one of the richest

In 2012, Elon Musk first appeared on the Forbes list as one of the richest persons in the world with a fortune of exactly two billion dollars. By 2020, Elon Musk's fortune was valued at $23.26 billion, according to Business Insider.

SpaceX: his biggest bet

The company SpaceX is currently valued at approximately $33.3 billion. With $2.2 billion it launched Starlink, a project to cover Earth with ultra-fast broadband Internet and build the Starship rocket prototype.

Unconventional: The Boring Company

Elon Musk is an unorthodox entrepreneur, known for his imaginative and unconventional engineering plans. In 2016, he founded The Boring Company to build an underground tunnel in Los Angeles and minimize traffic in the congested city.

A tweeting billionaire

Elon Musk may live the glamorous lifestyle of other super-wealthy people, emanating an air of success, but he also makes the news with clumsy and sometimes disastrous statements. In 2019 a U.S. court ordered him to shut down his Twitter account because he had allegedly used it to give misleading information about the financial situation of his company Tesla.

Elon Musk and cryptocurrencies

Musk's remarks about cryptocurrencies like Doge and bitcoin tend to make big (and perhaps irresponsible) waves in the crypto markets. Whenever Musk says something positive about a coin, it skyrockets. This was the case with bitcoin when he revealed in January 2021 that he had bought $1.5 billion in bitcoins with Tesla. The cryptocurrency reached an all-time-high of $50,000.

Devoted to his work

Musk is not only a daredevil but also a workaholic. Instead of going on vacations, he spends many hours in his factories. His meetings last until 01:00 or 02:00 in the morning. "Not on Saturdays and Sundays, but sometimes too," he told Joe Rogan in a podcast.

The weekends he does have, Musk prefers to spend with his children rather than at jet set parties.

Elon Musk and his seven children

Musk has six living children with two different partners. His first son, Nevada, was born in 2002 but tragically died after ten weeks. Elon and his wife Justine then set out to have children via IVF. The result were their twin sons Griffin and Xavier in 2004 and triplets Kai, Saxon, and Damian in 2006. All of Musk's children are boys.

A new baby boy: X Æ A-Xii

But wait, that's just the children he had with his first wife Justine. In 2020, Elon Musk welcomed a baby boy with his then-girlfriend, the artist Grimes. The baby's name was subject to enormous media attention: X Æ A-Xii, or "X" in short. He was named after Grimes's music album 4ÆM.

Tesla's Model 3

It seems like his Tesla models are Elon Musk's babies too. He has told several media that he is obsessed with his work, and he revealed to Fortune that he spent many nights working at the Tesla giga-factory in Nevada to get the production off the ground for his prestigious Model 3.

He slept on the floor at his office

"There were times when I wouldn't leave the factory for three or four days or days and I didn't go outside," Musk told The New York Times. He added that he was working 120 hours a week, and in The Wall Street Journal he said that he'd slept on the floor of his office at Tesla.

If he could, he would sleep less

Elon Musk has famously claimed that he never sleeps more than six hours. If he did, it would detract from his work productivity, the Tesla boss claims. He would also sleep less than six hours if that were possible, but alas, the body rules. "I tried to sleep less but productivity decreases," he told CNBC. Therefore, Musk always sleeps exactly six hours.

'No one should work this much'

The billionaire does reflect on his own working habits though. "No one should spend so many hours at work. I don't recommend it."

(In the image: Elon Musk joking about himself and his oddities on 'Saturday Night Live' in 2021)

Elon Musk smoking marihuana

Elon Musk is often considered somewhat of a 'bad boy' in the business world. Beside tweeting too much (information), he has also been caught smoking pot on camera during a podcast interview with Joe Rogan. Because of his Space X program, NASA asked Musk to never do that in public again.

Sometimes things don't go quite well

And even though he works very hard, Musk does not succeed with everything he tries. The presentation of the Cybertruck, Tesla's unbreakable electric truck, for example, did not go well for Musk and his wallet.

The moon and Mars will have to wait

Similarly, his ambitious project of going to Mars and the moon with the company SpaceX sometimes fails. Even though each test launch is taking the billionaire closer to his goal of flying people to the moon in 2023, the progress also comes with an occasional, tremendous explosion.

"Starship SN10 landed in one piece!"

In March 2021, a SpaceX prototype, the SN10, performed the company's latest altitude test. The trial went well - initially. In fact, everything went perfectly until the landing. But at that point, Elon Musk had already tweeted euphorically: "Starship SN10 landed in one piece!"

An unexpected blast

Musk had cheered too soon. Minutes after landing, the SN10 spacecraft exploded spectacularly, to the amazement of the millions of people who followed the event through live streaming. Even the narrators of the event could not hide their amazement: "That was incredible," they said.

A controlled fire without casualties

A safety team quickly brought the fire under control, and it's up to SpaceX to investigate what led to the explosion. In any case, SN10 has done a better job than its predecessors SN8 and SN9 which exploded immediately upon touchdown. The SN10 at least made it into a vertical position after landing correctly. That's something.

Elon Musk: always reaching higher

For Elon Musk, the work seems to go on forever. Let's see what the next step will be for the man who Time declared as the most influential of 2021.

Read also: Jeff Bezos, the world's first trillionaire

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