But what do you really know about him? He’s bought, sold, and been up to plenty of antics you’d be surprised to hear about. Let’s find out more.
While it may seem like Elon Musk just up and sprang out of the ground, he, like everyone else, has a mom and a dad. He's the oldest of three children. His mom, Maye Haldeman Musk is a model and dietitian from Canada, and his dad, Errol Musk is an electromechanical engineer from South Africa.
Elon, whose middle name is Reeve, was born on June 28th, 1971. Musk's family was wealthy during his youth, and his parents divorced nine years after he was born. He lived with his father, a decision he came to regret.
Three Countries to Call Home
While Elon spent the majority of his youth in South Africa, he and his family were already familiar with moving around the world. His mother was from Canada, though she also spent most of her life in South Africa. Musk was able to obtain Canadian citizenship through his mother in 1989. A little more than a decade after , he also became a United States citizen.
Joshua Haldeman, his maternal grandfather, was an American-born Canadian who took his family on out-of-this-world journeys in single-engine airplanes. Musk is also of British and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.
On the Right Side of History
When Musk was a child, his father was elected to the Pretoria City Council as a rep of the anti-apartheid Progressive Party. Elon and his siblings reportedly also shared their father's dislike of apartheid. His siblings were Kimbal, a brother born a year after Elon in 1972, and Tosca, a sister, born in 1974.
Despite aligning with his father on this issue, Elon eventually became estranged from Errol Musk.
Learning the Ropes
While he was growing up, Musk was a voracious reader. He read almost everything he could get his hands on, and it proved to be an incredibly helpful thing. By the age of twelve, he had taught himself computer programming, and he was even able to make money at it from such an early age.
He wrote a simple video game in a BASIC-based language called “Blastar” and sold the code to the computing magazine “PC and Office Technology” for around five hundred dollars. If you want to see what a twelve-year-old future genius can come up with, a version of the game is still available to play online.
The Target of Bullies
We all had our bullies when we were kids, but Musk – reportedly a shy, introverted, nerdy kid – might have had it rougher than all of us. According to his 2015 biography, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”, Musk had to be put in hospital after he was seriously bullied and hurt by a group of boys.
Musk has said that the reason for this assault was opposing the unjust discrimination that were part of apartheid. He scolded people who used ethnical slurs, and he paid for it. Still, he was right in the end.
Preparing for the Future
For us, it's easy to see that Musk was a unique kid. His father must have thought so too since he sent Musk to a few special schools. The first was Waterkloof House Preparatory School, a prestigious school for boys that teaches up until middle school.
The second was Bryanston High School, but a change was apparently in order since he eventually graduated from Pretoria Boys High School. The first was state-run, while the second was funded through tuition and is far more prestigious.
Moving To Canada
Musk knew that he wanted to go where the action was: the United States. However, he also knew that it would be easier to enter the states via Canada, and not directly from South Africa. He applied for a Canadian passport through his Canadian-born mother, and in the meantime attended the University of Pretoria for five months, allowing him to avoid mandatory service in the South African military.
Musk was able to make it to Canada in June 1989, where he lived with a second cousin in Saskatchewan for a year. There, he worked odd jobs to save up cash for college.
Back to the Books
In 1990, Musk entered Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, but it wasn't even close to the last place he attended for his post-secondary education. Two years later he would transfer to the University of Pennsylvania, where he would add an extra year to rack up a double major in physics and economics.
Even at this age, Musk was pretty sure about what kind of industries he was going to get into. SpaceX is a physics company when you think about it. And it's always a good idea to know what you're doing when it comes to money, which is why his majors fit hit like a glove.
Joining the Workforce
While he was still working on his degrees, Musk joined several internships. He was at the energy storage startup Pinnacle Research Institute, which investigated using electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage. He also spent some time at the Palo Alto startup Rocket Science Games.
While the two jobs seem like incredibly different things, we should come to expect this sort of behavior from Musk by now. He was never content to sit with one thing. He had to keep pushing into different areas to find out what was possible.
That Didn't Last Long
After he was done working on his bachelor's degree, Musk jumped right into his next step of education. He was accepted to a Doctor of Philosophy program in materials science at Stanford University. At the same time, he attempted to get a job at the internet company Netscape, but he never received a response (something they might be kicking themselves about now).
This was at a time when the company was hiring dozens of software engineers a month. Then, after only two days at Stanford, he decided to drop out and try to join the internet boom that was beginning to make waves.
Showering At YMCA
Musk's first foray into the business world was with a company called Zip2, which he started with his brother Kimbal and a man named Greg Kouri. They borrowed the funds – approximately twenty-eight thousand dollars – from father Errol Musk. The small business was housed in Palo Alto in a rented office.
The company created an Internet city guide for the newspaper industry, with maps, guides, and yellow pages. Before the company became successful, Musk couldn't afford an apartment. Instead, he rented a small office to sleep on a couch, showered at the YMCA and shared a single computer with his brother.
A young guy working on a startup has two options. The first is to have some time to yourself and watch your company fail. The second option is to work constantly without rest and maybe see the company succeed. Musk chose the second option. According to him, the website was up during the day, and during the night he would be hard at work coding it, seven days a week.
Thanks to hard work, the company obtained contracts with “The New York Times” and the “Chicago Tribune.” Musk also persuaded the company's board of directors away from plans to merge with the company CitySearch.
Making The First Millions
Despite his first company being a big success, Musk was stopped from reaching the top chair. The board did everything in its power to stop Musk from becoming CEO. But, the venture was still a smashing success – Compaq (an American information technology company) bought Zip2 for a whopping three hundred and seven million dollars in cash in February of 1999.
Thanks to Musk's seven-percent share, he received twenty-two million dollars. Huge numbers to most people these days, but Musk was already on to the next big thing. And within a few years, even seven figures were going to be pocket change for him.
The Next Step
Musk was prepared to use his university knowledge for his next venture. With three other men, he founded the company X.com, an online bank. It was one of the first federally insured online banks in America, and within a few months, over two hundred thousand people joined the service as customers.
While Musk began as the CEO, the company's investors regarded him as too inexperienced. They replaced him with Intuit CEO Bill Harris by the end of 1999. In 2000, X.com merged with the online bank Confinity in an effort to avoid competition.
A Name We All Know
Confinity was founded by Max Levchin and Peter Thiel, and it had its own money-transfer service like X.com, called PayPal. It was more popular than X.com's service, and so the merged companies used it as the service's name.
With the merger, Musk returned as CEO. Software preferences led to Thiel resigning, but a lack of a cohesive business model and resulting technological issues once again led to Musk's removal from the big chair. Thiel took his place in September of 2000
Another Company, Another Sell
It only took three years from the company's founding for X.com and Confinity to be one of the biggest acquisitions ever. In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Musk held 11.72% of the shares, and the acquisition netted him a cool one hundred and seventy-five million dollars, almost eight times the amount he had earned when his first company sold.
But the story with this company wasn't over then – fifteen years later, in 2017, Musk purchased the domain X.com back from PayPal for an undisclosed amount. His explanation was one that all of us could understand: it had sentimental value.
Love, Marriage, and Tragedy
Someone this successful and brilliant is going to attract people, and Musk is no exception. He met his first wife, Justine Wilson while attending Queen's University in Ontario, and they got married in 2000. Justine is a Canadian author. Apparently, she was one of the first people to use the popular image site Pinterest to plan out her novel, something that aspiring authors do to this day.
In 2002 Justine gave birth to their first child, but tragically the baby died only ten weeks later. After that, the couple experiences trouble conceiving further, eventually resorting to in vitro fertilization. Justine gave birth to twins in 2004 and triplets in 2006.
The First Divorce of Many and Next Relationship
We can only guess why, but Justine and Elon Musk filed for divorce in 2008. They share custody of their children. However, this bump in the road wasn't much of a problem for Musk, who quickly became one of the hottest commodities in the singles market.
He almost immediately started dating English actress Talulah Riley, and the two got married in 2010. This wouldn't last long. The two got divorced in 2012, though the split seems to be amicable. Musk tweeted, saying: “It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day.” They got remarried in 2013.
Brushes With Death
Despite living what many would call a charmed life, Musk has had more than a few close calls. In 1999, Musk was the owner of the supercar McLaren F1. The car has sold for up to fourteen million dollars during auctions, but Elon ended up crashing it! Since, for some reason, the car was uninsured, he had no way of getting it back without paying an incredible amount.
Just a year after the McLaren crash, Musk was on vacation in Brazil and his native South Africa, and he ended up becoming severely ill. The disease nearly killed Musk, but thankfully he recovered.
The Joy of Flying
Musk is a huge aircraft enthusiast, which might explain how much time and energy goes into SpaceX. He owns a number of planes, including a Czech-made jet trainer aircraft, and a 1994 model Dassault Falcon 900. There's also the Aero L-39 Albatros, which he calls the most fun plane he's ever owned.
How many people in the entire world, ever, can make that kind of statement? You might be able to count them on one hand. There's also his TWO Gulfstream Jets. His Dassault Falcon was used in the 2005 film “Thank You For Smoking.” Musk has a cameo in the film as the pilot.
Beyond the Surly Bonds of Earth
In early 2001, Musk became involved with the nonprofit organization Mars Society. He discussed funding plans to place a growth chamber for plants on Mars. That same year, in October, he traveled to Moscow to purchase refurbished intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could potentially send greenhouse payloads into space.
He met with several companies, but they regarded Musk as a novice, and he returned to the states without any missiles. A year later, Musk and his group returned, looking for three ICBMs, but were only offered one at eight million dollars. Musk rejected the offer and decided to start his own company.
The Big One
Out of all of Musk's properties and companies, there's one that might have the most impact in the long run: SpaceX. It's short for Space Exploration Technologies, and he founded it in May of 2002 with a hundred million dollars of his own money. The goal was to build a true spacefaring civilization.
The company sprang out of Musk's own belief that he could build cheaper rockets for space travel by applying things like “vertical integration” and a “modular approach” from software engineering. The company conducted its first launch using the Falcon 1 rocket, in 2006.
Despite not even making it past the inner layers of the atmosphere (what is considered a failure in space launch standards), Falcon 1 still earned the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program contract from NASA administrator, and former SpaceX consultant, Mike Griffin. However, two more failed attempts at getting Falcon 1 into space over the next two years almost caused Musk and his companies to go bankrupt.
Finally, a successful launch on September twenty-eighth of 2008 placed the Falcon 1 into orbit, earning the company a huge contract with NASA and becoming the first privately-developed fully liquid-fueled launch vehicle to go into orbit around Earth.
Contracting With NASA
SpaceX earned $1.6 billion from a contract with NASA, it was for twelve flights of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). This replaced the aging Space Shuttle, which went into retirement in 2011. The Dragon was the first private vehicle to berth with the ISS ever, coming in 2012.
Musk believes that the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, one of the last actions by Mike Griffin as NASA administrator, saved SpaceX. But the sky wasn't the limit for SpaceX, and in the decade since this big moment, it's done plenty more.
For a long time, one of the biggest issues with launches into outer space is that the rockets themselves can't be reused. They separate into stages and miles into water, which almost without fail destroys them utterly. SpaceX has been working toward developing reusable spacecraft since its inception. In 2015, they made a big step forward in that regard.
They successfully landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket on an in-land platform. They achieved later landings on autonomous spaceport drone ships, which are ocean-based recovery platforms. This reduces an incredible amount of both monetary and physical waste, and allows the greater study of the rockets themselves, leading to faster development.
More Than Just a Business
Musk has great things in store for SpaceX. He wants the company to be able to send humans to the surface of Mars within two decades. SpaceX is already the world's biggest private producer of rocket engines, but Musk thinks it's more than just a money-making venture. He believes there are lots of things that endanger the human species, such as an engineered virus, catastrophic global warming, or even the accidental creation of micro black holes.
There's always a potential for new technology to be far more dangerous to humans than at first supposed. Musk wants to make sure we have another option when it comes to livable planets.
In 2015, SpaceX started development on the Starlink constellation of low Earth orbit satellites. They're designed to provide satellite internet access to a larger area than other systems. In February 2018, the first two prototype satellites were launched. The second set of test satellites, and the first large deployment of a piece of the constellation, came in May 2019 – the first sixty satellites were launched.
The total cost of this long project is estimated by SpaceX to be about ten billion dollars. However, some are critical of the project, stating that so many satellites could pose a collision threat.
The Future Of Cars
You've probably seen these fancy vehicles on the roads while driving. Out of all of Musk's businesses, Tesla is probably the most well-known. Incorporated in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the company began with the Series A round of funding, which Musk led starting in February of 2004.
With an investiture of $6.5 million, Musk became the majority shareholder and joined the company's board of directors. He immediately took an active role in the company, overseeing the design of the Tesla Roadster, though he wasn't much involved in day-to-day business operations. Tesla was the world's first plug-in electric sports car, hitting the roads in 2008.
Holding the Wheel
After a series of conflicts among the board of directors, and the 2008 financial crisis, Eberhard was pushed out of Tesla. Musk became the company's CEO and chief product architect in 2008. In 2009, a lawsuit settlement with Eberhard named Musk as a Tesla co-founder. He was not alone in this position as Tarpenning and two others joined him in this role.
When 2019 rolled around, Musk was the longest-tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally. Of course, he isn't the CEO anymore – he changed his title to “Technoking.”. We guess he's still a little bit of a kid at heart.
At the Top of the Market
As the world's first plug-in electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster had a lot of catching up to do in 2008. With a first limited run of only about twenty-five hundred vehicles, it was a mark of status for a little while. It was the first serial production all-electric car to use lithium-ion batteries. After that, the four-door Model S sedan began production in 2012.
It's considered the second best-selling plug-in car of all time after the Nissan Leaf. The Model X, a crossover SUV, came out in 2015. The next model, Model three, is the all-time best-selling plug-in vehicle available worldwide. More models are on the way.
Powering Up the World
It's not just cars that Tesla is interested in. In addition to the vehicles themselves, the company began developing a network of charging stations for Tesla vehicles across the continents of North America, Europe, and Asia in 2012. There are additional plans to spread into other continents as they become feasible.
As of November 2020, the company operates over twenty thousand Superchargers in over twenty-one hundred stations worldwide. All Tesla cars save the first generation Roadster come equipped with charging hardware, and the navigation system is able to provide the fastest route to charging stations, even taking into account long-distance travel.
Very Fast Bombs
Electric Cars are incredibly sophisticated pieces of technology. Tesla has had many difficulties, even coming close to bankruptcy. This was in 2008, due to the actions of Eberhard, but it also had something to do with the worldwide economic downturn that happened that year.
The second big problem was in 2015 after Tesla was already well-established. Reports started coming in about spontaneous battery combustion. When it comes to spontaneous things, battery combustion is one of the worst possible options. They seemed to be occurring in the Model S, but changes made them safer and allowed the company to continue building itself.
Another Way to Help Humanity
Once again, Musk believes that this famous and forward-thinking company is more than just a way to earn a few billion bucks. He wants to use it to accelerate the development of vehicles that don't rely on fossil fuels. They're aggressively expanding the number of charging stations around the globe in order to make the vehicles more viable.
They also offer their patents to anyone in good faith, hoping to urge traditional automobile manufacturers to speed up the development of more fuel-efficient and fully electric options. In October 2021, Tesla's market capitalization reached one trillion dollars, only the sixth company to do so in United States history.
Giving Out Ideas
Musk came up with the initial concept of the company SolarCity in 2006, and gave the idea to his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive – he also provided their initial funding. The company began with a focus on door-to-door sales of leased systems where customers paid no upfront costs, instead agreeing to purchase power generated by the panels for twenty-year terms.
It became the largest residential solar installer in the country, but the company accrued over $1.5 billion in debt by 2016. A merger was proposed between SolarCity and Tesla, and it went through in 2016.
A Match Made in Tech Heaven
Since the companies mostly came from the same mind, the merger made sense to everyone. Since 2012, the companies had been collaborating to develop batteries that store energy generated by solar panels rather than feeding the energy directly into the power grid.
SolarCity became the first installer of the Tesla Powerwall home energy storage battery. Musk also served as the chairman of SolarCity. A merger made all the sense possible in the business world.
Staying Strong in the Sun
Announced in late 2011, SolarCity began work on the SolarStrong 5-year plan to build more than one billion dollars of solar photovoltaic projects for privatized military housing communities across the United States. This involved 124 military bases in thirty-three states. It used financing from a number of banks and other organizations, and also used a partial $344 million federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy Financial Institution Partnership Program.
However, this guarantee was withdrawn after the project began. SolarCity has also run pilot projects to test grid backups in cities and even entire states. Smaller ones, like Vermont.
Musk always seems to be innovating. He's proposed building something he called “hyperloop,” a futuristic train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It's a sealed tube, allowing pods carrying passengers or freight free of air resistance. In Musk's vision, the trains would be traveling at about six hundred miles per hour, which would make the travel time between the two cities something like thirty-five minutes – much faster than anything currently.
The cost of the project has been set at an estimated six billion dollars, but many experts believe that's a conservative number. But who will make such a thing?
The Big Competition
While Musk has assigned SpaceX engineers to work on the concept, he's also released all of the information as an open-source project, which allows anyone to propose possible plans and designs. He's done even more than that. In 2015, he began the Hyperloop Pod Competition, which invited teams of engineers and designers to design and submit pods that might be used in the system.
Different competitions have come and gone, with the Technical University of Munich coming in first place with a different design every time. The fastest they achieved during the texts was four hundred and sixty-three kilometers per hour or about 287.7 miles per hour.
Into the Earth
Musk isn't just finding ways to make space travel easier – he's also looking at ways to get around by going underground. In 2021, SpaceX did away with its normal Hyperloop train designing competition, and instead had a competition for tunnel boring. The aim was for teams to rapidly and accurately build (or dig) a tunnel thirty meters long and thirty centimeters wide.
The competition was officially called the Not-a-Boring Competition. Twelve teams went to Las Vegas, and the winning team was, once again, from the Technical University of Munich, which excavated a twenty-two-meter bore while meeting safety regulations.
Getting Around the Gilded City
You might be asking: why hold the competition in Las Vegas? Well, that's because Musk had already built a hyperloop tunnel there. It opened in 2021 and began transporting passengers along a nearly two-mile stretch of underground road with three passenger stops. It isn't a train – it uses a fleet of Teslas to transport people.
With a maximum of sixty-two cars carrying up to five passengers each, it transports about forty-four hundred people an hour. It turns a walk that is nearly an hour into a two-minute drive. That seems pretty great! But Las Vegas is a lot bigger than that – why is it so small?
The Boring Company
The company that has been doing all this work is yet ANOTHER brainchild of Musk, and it's called The Boring Company. Because it bores. It bores holes in the ground. Well, technically it's through the ground, such as the hyperloop in Las Vegas. It focuses on infrastructure and tunnel construction. Musk founded it, and he owned ninety percent of the equity in 2018.
Six percent is held by SpaceX in return for the use of SpaceX resources during The Boring Company's startup period. It originally began as a subsidiary of SpaceX until it split off into an independent company.
Tunnel Number Two
Musks' inspiration for the project was difficulties with Los Angeles traffic – one of the most crowded and busy places in the world. The initial Las Vegas tunnel was a proof of concept, and the company got to work on a bigger version right away.
This tunnel, also in Vegas, is planned to be much larger and will connect Vegas landmarks like Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, the High Roller, and more. As of February 2022, several tunnels have surfaced in various locations, and work is continuing swiftly.
The Great Underground City
In October 2021, Clark County Commissioners approved a fifty-year franchise agreement for the construction of a much larger underground system in the Las Vegas area. It's planned to be a fifteen-mile dual loop system. The specs of this project are honestly kind of staggering. There are already fifty-one planned stops in the system. The Boring Company plans to build five to ten of the stations during the first year of construction, and as permits are completed, add approximately fifteen more each year.
The Company is responsible for funding tunnel construction, while the stations themselves are paid for by resort properties and location owners.
Through the Ground Around the World
Of course, Las Vegas is just the first step for this company. Other locations under discussion include numerous California options: San Jose and San Bernardino County are the main contracts currently. There are also several options open in Florida and Cameron County in Texas is also in talks with The Boring Company. There are also numerous inactive or canceled projects, such as a hyperloop connecting Washington, DC, and New York City, or Washington and Baltimore.
A plan was underway in Chicago to connect downtown with O'Hare Airport, but the project has been dropped. Other discussions include Australia and Europe, but little more than conversations have been completed.
Musk has come under fire from multiple directions for his politics, which he describes as mostly libertarian. He's a free-speech absolutist, which means he thinks everybody should be allowed to say what they want. Whether this stems from his time in South Africa or comes from somewhere else, it's hard to say.
As a libertarian, he also believes that the government shouldn't get in the way of people or private businesses. His efforts in creating space-age advancements in multiple fields are proof of that. Still, he's getting used to both sides of the political spectrum trying to take him down a notch for the things he says on Twitter.
A Fear of Computers
While Musk more or less believes that government should stay out of people's lives, there's one area where he really wants them to step in and keep things in check. That would, of course, be artificial intelligence, which Musk has referred to as “humanity's biggest existential threat.”
He increasingly believes there should be some kind of regulatory oversight about artificial intelligence at the national or even international level so that we, quote, don't do something very foolish.” He said these things in 2014, at the MIT AeroAstro Centennial Symposium.
Putting His Money Where His Mouth Is
Musk knows that money is a powerful way to get his message across in our day and age. He's not only invested in several AI startups, but in 2015 he formed OpenAI, a nonprofit artificial intelligence research firm. The firm has a mission to counteract large corporations that may achieve too much power by owning super-intelligence systems dedicated to earnings.
It also has its eye on governments that might use artificial intelligence to gain power and oppress people. Go ahead and use that Alexa. If it gets too strong, OpenAI will be there to stop it.
More Problems in the Love Life
Remember how we said that Musk married English actress Talulah Riley in 2010, and then they divorced in 2012? And then, a year after that, they got remarried? Well, just a single year after that, Musk filed for a...re-divorce? It was late 2014, but those proceedings were withdrawn. However, in March of 2016, Riley filed for her own divorce, and it was finalized later that year.
So far with this relationship, Musk began dating actress Amber Heard for several months in 2017. Apparently, he was dating her since 2012.
A Bizzare Addition to the Family
Musk and Heard were both accused of having an affair. They both denied the affair, but you can believe it came up again during the Amber Heard and Johnny Depp hearings. After that, Musk began dating Canadian musician Grimes. She gave birth to their son in May 2020, and the son was given the name “X Æ A-12.”
The name would have violated California regulations, as it included symbols that are not in the contemporary English alphabet. The second attempt was “X Æ A-Xii,” but that still didn't work, as the character Æ is not in the modern English alphabet.
A Growing Family, or Not
The child's name ended up being “X AE A-XII” Musk. We have no idea why. His first name is X, and “AE X-II” is his middle name. In December of 2021, Grimes and Musk had a second child, via surrogacy. They had a daughter they named Exa Dark Sideræl Musk, nicknamed “Y.” Grimes and Musk confirmed reports that they were “semi-separate” in September 2021.
During an interview with "Time" in December 2021, Musk confirmed that he was single, but in March 2022, Grimes said she would probably refer to Musk as her boyfriend. A month later, she tweeted they had broken up. Clearly, it's all very complicated.
Yet Another Company
Due to his standing with artificial intelligence, Musk co-founded the company Neuralink in 2016 alongside a team of seven other scientists and engineers. Its headquarters are in the same building as OpenAI. The driving vision of the company is to develop implantable brain-machine interfaces. We're beginning to see why some people refer to Musk as a mad scientist.
In June 2019, Neuralink announced that it was working on a “sewing machine-like” device capable of implanting very thin (very, VERY thin – mere micrometers in width) threads into the brain. They've also developed a system to read information from a lab rat via fifteen hundred electrodes.
A Fitbit in Your Skull
At a live demonstration in August 2020, Musk described the device Neuralink has been working on as a Fitbit in your skull, which sounds a little painful. However, if it worked the same way, it would be pretty helpful. Neuroscientists and medical publications criticized these claims.
Musk has mentioned that the device may be able to treat depression, insomnia, and a dozen other diseases, but there has been no evidence of the Neuralink device actually being able to achieve those things.
A Big, Weird Belief
Musk has a lot of beliefs, but his strange one is this: he thinks that humans are living in a computer simulation. He claims we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously, and it's improving every year.
Musk believes that we'll soon have virtual reality, and right after that, augmented reality – being able to walk and interact like it's real life. Eventually, video games and real life will become indistinguishable. Who's to say that hasn't already happened? Lots of people, actually.
Where It's Going, It Won't Need Roads
So Musk has SpaceX, the most successful private spacecraft manufacturer in the world, and he has Tesla, a stand-out car manufacturer that is changing the way people drive. So, what better way to celebrate both of those companies than to shoot his car into space? Don't answer that question.
In 2018, Musk launched his personal cherry-red Tesla Roadster into space with a mannequin dubbed “Starman” in the driver's seat. The car was successfully launched into space by a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. Since then, it's been floating on an elliptical orbit, completing a rotation every 557 days.
He's on the Giving Pledge
The Giving Pledge is a small organization that includes some of the richest people on the planet. It's dedicated to using the money of the members to better humanity, and not just leave it to children that didn't earn it. Musk is part of this pledge, and he's doing his best to give away as much of his money as he can – and he has a lot of it.
He's perhaps the richest man on the planet, with a total net worth of almost $250 billion.
He Wants to End Up With Zero
Musk's goal is actually to die without a penny to his name. He's been giving away billions of dollars – in 2021 he gave $5.7 billion to charity. He's been giving a majority of his wealth away to philanthropic causes since 2012. $5.7 billion was roughly 2.3% of Musk's net worth at the time – not a huge percentage, but percentages start to break down at that amount of money.
However, it's unsure exactly where the money went – many speculate that it went into a donor-advised fund, or DAF. It's kind of like a philanthropic bank account, a holding tank for when Musk decides where the money goes.
Sleeping on Couches
He's the richest man in the world, but where is he sleeping? According to him. he no longer owns any homes, and if he isn't in a hotel, he's sleeping on the couches in friends' houses. He's said that traveling in the bay area, which is where most of the businesses he's in charge of have their offices, will just see him rotating in friends' spare rooms.
Sure, it's not exactly sleeping on couches, but it's still quite a shift from what he could be doing. He's also sold many of his possessions, and he doesn't like to take vacations. He still has his planes, since he travels so much.
Buying Social Media
Musk joined Twitter all the way back in 2009, and as of June 2022, he has over a hundred million followers. Not only does he talk about his companies, but he also discusses contemporary politics, cultural issues, and memes. He first expressed interest in buying the company back in 2017.
In January of 2022, Musk began buying shares of the company, reaching a five percent stake in March. In April, he reached a little over seventy-three million shares, 9.13%, becoming Twitter's largest shareholder. When Musk disclosed this in a public statement, Twitter shares experienced the largest intraday surge since its 2013 initial public offering.
The Bitter Twitter Bidder
On April fourth, 2022, Musk approved a contract that would designate him to Twitter's board of directors and ban him from acquiring more than 14.9% of the group. Less than ten days later, he made a forty-three billion dollar offer to buy Twitter, which got lots of people on the site...excited.
To try and stop him, Twitter's board adopted a shareholder rights plan that would make it more expensive for any single investor to own more than fifteen percent of the company without the board's approval. That didn't stop Musk.
From there, things get a little more complicated. Musk found funding by getting loans against his Tesla stock, and Tesla stock plummeted – Musk lost about $30 billion of net worth. A month after announcing the takeover, Musk stated the deal was on hold following a report five percent of Twitter users were bots. Twitter shares dropped more than ten percent after the announcement.
Musk then tried to back out of the deal in July, followed by Twitter's Board of Directors responding they were committed to holding him to the transaction. On July twelfth, 2022, Musk was sued by Twitter for breaching a lawfully crucial agreement to buy Twitter.
I Should Buy a Soft Drink Company
While all of that Twitter hullabaloo was happening, Musk tweeted that his next company purchase might just be an American institution: Coca-Cola. While this announcement might have been a joke, he's also said that he wants to put illegal substances back into the formula. Which is absolutely a joke, since that would be banned.
When the original soft drink hit store shelves in 1885, it did contain an extraction of coca leaf, a raw form of an illegal substance, but the substance was both legal and common at the time. Only a few years later they started to phase the ingredient out.
Half and Half
Musk has described himself as half Democrat and half Republican, which means that neither side is all that happy with him. He's also described himself as nauseatingly pro-American, which makes another group of Americans angry with him. He's made personal political contributions totaling almost a fourth of a million dollars to both Democratic and Republican candidates since 2002.
In 2022 he spread a bit of ire, tweeting that the far left hates everyone, even themselves. He followed it up by pointing out he's no fan of the far right, either, and that there needs to be less hate and more love.
Musk has said that he's dedicated to getting rid of all his money, but that doesn't mean he can't spend it on some fun toys. In 1989, a Long Island couple purchased an abandoned storage unit for a hundred dollars, hoping to, we have to assume, store some stuff. When they opened it, they found it was occupied by a Lotus Esprit, the car that James Bond drives in the 1977 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me.” In fact, it was the very same car.
The car is known as “Wet Nellie,” a name that comes from “Little Nellie,” which had been featured in a previous movie.
Made for the Movies
The Lotus Esprit was custom-built for the film, in order to give Bond a futuristic and glamorous vehicle. It cost about a hundred thousand dollars to make, which is nearly half a million in today's money. The couple didn't know what they had found at first, but they had it appraised and realized their one hundred dollar investment had definitely matured.
They had the vehicle restored, and displayed it at shows until 2013 when they decided to sell. Musk is a huge fan of Bond (James Bond), and paid a cool mil for the car.
Kicks for the Car
In 2019, Tesla revealed the Model Y, which featured all of the cool tech and advances they had been working on for years. However, the car was nearly upstaged by Musk's shoes, a pair of custom Jordan kicks that he paid fifteen hundred dollars for. They featured the Tesla logo right above the toe box.
They cost nearly ten times what the average pair of Jordans cost. According to Musk, he didn't even order them himself. A Tesla investor and close friend of Musk's had them made as a gift.
Sneakers Take Time
The red and black Air Jordan 1 shoes took between seven and ten weeks for the custom designer to create. These shoes are some of the most iconic styles on the market, and the fuss that Musk's custom fashion created is proof of that. The company that created them, DC Custom Sneakers, agreed to create six Limited Edition versions of the shoe, which they released intermittently.
The company also offers Red Bandana Air Forces, Jordan 1 Lakers, Dior Jordans, and other fancy options, if you're in the market for a big gift.
The Future of Life
Created to try and avoid nightmare scenarios where humanity's technology takes over (such as “Terminator” or “I, Robot,” though both of those are somewhat sensational examples), The Future of Life Institution wants to make sure we use technology to preserve life, not end it. It's a non-profit org that wants to keep humanity on the path of growth and flourishing, not self-destruction.
It's a goal that Musk agrees with, and he donated ten million dollars to the Institute in 2015. He hopes that the big donation will keep artificial intelligence beneficial for humanity.
Keeping an Eye on the Big Companies
The Future of Life Institute monitors AI made by companies like Apple, Facebook, IBM, and more, and they're there to act as whistleblowers in the event of red flags. Musk has never been a fan of artificial intelligence, and “Vanity Fair” even described him as being on a crusade to stop an artificial intelligence apocalypse.
Richard Dawkins and the late Stephen Hawking also invested in the institute. The goals of the institute include kickstarting A.I. Safety research and making the idea of A.I. safety more mainstream.
Ben Baller has proclaimed he's the best jeweler in the world. That might be subjective, but what isn't subjective is how good the ring he made for Musk is. Baller is an incredibly rich celebrity jeweler with a net worth of over a hundred million, and his star is only on the rise thanks to the custom Tesla ring (made of rubies and diamonds) that Musk ordered.
Musk ordered the ring special, and Baller spent who knows how long handcrafting it. The Tesla logo is made of trillion-cut diamonds, and custom-cut baguettes (not the bread) spell out “TESLA” on the back.
Canceling a Meeting with the Jeweler
Musk and Ben Baller were supposed to meet up after Baller had finished crafting the ring, but the famous jeweler announced that Musk had canceled the meeting. What was the reason? Well, according to Baller, Musk was angry that Baller had posted about a problem he had with his Tesla Model X on Instagram.
It wasn't even something like a check engine light keeps coming on – Baller got stuck inside the vehicle and had to escape out through the trunk. We don't care who you are, that's funny.
The Big Building
While Musk's long-term plans are to own no homes, that's a little easier said than done. A lot of his money is tied up in real estate, so despite the plan's publicized nature, he is getting things done slowly. One of the pieces of property he has sold was a mansion in Bel-Air worth a little under thirty million dollars.
The home was purchased for seventeen million originally, and after that, he had six more other mansions in Bel-Air to sell off. That is...a lot of mansions. He's actually said he wants people to stop attacking him for being a billionaire, and that apparently means selling his many homes.
The Largest Crypto Guy
Musk has been a supporter of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin from the early stages, and as electronic money slowly gains traction, Musk was all-in. He added #bitcoin to his Twitter bio, and it bumped the crypto's price up by about twenty percent. Musk knows that he has to watch what he says to avoid influencing the market too much, but he thinks crypto as a concept is a good thing.
Tesla bought $1.5 billion in Bitcoin in February of 2021, and the company also announced that it would be accepting cryptocurrency as payment for its products. The announcement made the price jump by two thousand dollars.
A Space-Age Watch
When Musk started making waves at SpaceX, luxury Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer wanted to do something special. The company designed a Special Edition Carrera Calibre 1887 SpaceX Chronograph and presented it to Musk. The watch not only celebrated Musk's company but TAG Heuer's connection to the history of space travel. John Glenn wore a Heuer 2915A stopwatch as a backup in the Friendship 7 in 1962.
Normal TAG Heuer watches cost thousands of dollars, and the special edition they whipped up for Musk is closer to ten thousand. Buying John Glenn's watch isn't possible, but it is on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
A Submarine to Save Kids
The world held its breath when news got out about twelve soccer players and their coach trapped in a Thailand cave. A freak monsoon had swept in, flooding the cave. They were trapped in a chamber two and a half miles from the mouth of the cave, and oxygen levels were dropping dangerously low.
It dominated headlines for weeks, and Musk was at work designing a mini-submarine to try and aid rescuers. However, after testing the sub was found to be too wide for the cave, and not practical. Musk left the invention in Thailand in case it could be of use in the future.
Taking Heat for Trying to Help
While the leader of the team trying to rescue the trapped boys encouraged Musk to try his hand at building a submarine, not everybody was happy with Musk becoming part of the story. Vernon Unsworth, a British recreational caver who played a key role in the operation, said the sub was nothing more than a public relations effort with no chance for success.
He went on to say that Musk “can stick his submarine where it hurts,” which got a rise from Musk on Twitter. An argument and court proceedings followed, though eventually charges were dropped in favor of Musk.
A Special Podcast Appearance
Joe Rogan, perhaps the most famous podcaster active today interviewed Musk in 2018. They discussed various topics for over two hours, and Musk took a puff from Rogan's cigar, which was tobacco laced with other leaves. Tesla stock dropped after the “incident,” and some wondered if Musk's smoking habits could have ramifications for SpaceX contracts with the United States Air Force.
In a later “60 Minutes” interview, Musk said he didn't smoke, as anybody who watched the podcast could tell – he didn't even know how to hold the cigar. The memorable images that resulted poked plenty of fun at the event.
He Loves Etsy
Not everything Musk buys is incredibly expensive. Just like the rest of us, he enjoys browsing Etsy for hand-made stuff. He's a proud owner of two dogs, and he apparently purchased a hand-knit “Marvin the Martian” helmet for one of the pooches. When he tweeted about the purchase, Etsy's stock price jumped nine percent. However, the stock jump was only temporary.
Financial analysts called the jump “peak dumb” resulting from an easily-manipulable public. Algorithms often drive prices, and Musk, being such a watched businessman, is going to affect those algorithms. Then again, Musk has a cool dog hat, so he still got the better end of the deal.
For all his hard work and success, Musk has collected quite a number of awards. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 2018, and in 2015 he accepted an honorary doctorate in engineering and technology at Yale. He's received awards for his contribution to the development of the Falcon rockets, including literal gold medals in space travel.
He's been on “Time” magazine's 100 Most Influential People list multiple times and was the Person of the Year for 2021. He's also, somehow, received the Order of Defence Merit from the Brazilian Armed Forces in 2022.