Elon Reeve Musk (/ˈiːlɒn ˈmʌsk/; born June 28, 1971) is a South African-born Canadian-American business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor.
Musk is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; a co-founder, a Series A investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI; founder and CEO of Neuralink. He was previously co-founder and chairman of SolarCity; co-founder of Zip2; and founder of X.com, which merged with Confinity and took the name PayPal. As of July 2017, he has an estimated net worth of $16.1 billion, making him the 80th-wealthiest person in the world. In December 2016, Musk was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.
Musk has stated that the goals of SolarCity, Tesla, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars.
In addition to his primary business pursuits, he has also envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a VTOL supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet.
Musk also proposed the concept of The Boring Company in 2017.
At the age of 17, Musk was accepted into Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, for undergraduate study. In 1992, after spending two years at Queen’s University, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where in May 1997 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from its College of Arts and Sciences, and a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from its Wharton School of Business. Musk extended his studies for one year to finish the second bachelor’s degree. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Musk and fellow Penn student Adeo Ressi rented a 10-bedroom fraternity house, using it as an unofficial nightclub.
In 1995, at age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in applied physics and materials science at Stanford University, but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the areas of the Internet, renewable energy and outer space. In 2002, he became a U.S. citizen.
Awards and recognition
- In 2006, Musk served as a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board.
- R&D Magazine Innovator of the Year for 2007 for SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.
- Inc Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2007 for his work on Tesla and SpaceX.
- 2007 Index Design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster. Global Green 2006 product design award for his design of the Tesla Roadster, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev.
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics George Low award for the most outstanding contribution in the field of space transportation in 2007/2008. Musk was recognized for his design of the Falcon 1, the first privately developed liquid-fuel rocket to reach orbit.
- National Wildlife Federation 2008 National Conservation Achievement award for Tesla and SolarCity. Other 2008 recipients include journalist Thomas Friedman, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
- The Aviation Week 2008 Laureate for the most significant achievement worldwide in the space industry.
- National Space Society’s Von Braun Trophy in 2008/2009, given for leadership of the most significant achievement in space. Prior recipients include Burt Rutan and Steve Squyres.
- Automotive Executive of the Year (worldwide) in 2010 for demonstrating technology leadership and innovation via Tesla. Prior awardees include Bill Ford Jr, Bob Lutz, Dieter Zetsche and Lee Iacocca. Musk is the youngest ever recipient of this award.
- Listed as one of Time’s 100 people who most affected the world in 2010.
- The world governing body for aerospace records, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, presented Musk in 2010 with the highest award in air and space, the FAI Gold Space Medal, for designing the first privately developed rocket to reach orbit. Prior recipients include Neil Armstrong, Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites and John Glenn.
- Named as one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire magazine.
- Recognized as a Living Legend of Aviation in 2010 by the Kitty Hawk Foundation for creating the successor to the Space Shuttle (Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft). Other recipients include Buzz Aldrin and Richard Branson.
- In 2010, Musk was elected to the board of trustees of the California Institute of Technology, however no longer holds the position.
- In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, he was ranked as the No. 10 (tied with rocketry pioneer and scientist Wernher von Braun) most popular space hero.
- In February 2011, Forbes listed Musk as one of “America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under”.
- In June 2011, Musk was awarded the US$250,000 Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization
- In 2011, Musk was honored as a Legendary Leader at the Churchill Club Awards.
- In 2012, Musk was awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society’s highest award: a Gold Medal.
- Musk was the 2012 recipient of Smithsonian magazine’s American Ingenuity Award in the Technology category.
- In 2013, Musk was named the Fortune Businessperson of the year for SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla.
- In 2015, he was awarded IEEE Honorary Membership.
- As of 2015, Musk serves on the board of advisors of Social Concepts, Inc.
- In 2016, The Drive, a division of Time, named Musk the most influential person in the car business and as the second most influential person in the automotive tech sector.
- In June 2016, Business Insider named Musk one of the “Top 10 Business Visionaries Creating Value for the World” along with Mark Zuckerberg and Sal Khan.
- In December 2016, Musk was ranked 21st on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People.
- In March 2017, Musk was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 3 in the list of 200 Most Influential Philanthropists and Social Entrepreneurs.
- On risk: “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”
- On determination: “Optimism, pessimism, f*** that; we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”
- On the future: “There’s a fundamental difference, if you look into the future, between a humanity that is a space-faring civilization, that’s out there exploring the stars … compared with one where we are forever confined to Earth until some eventual extinction event.”
- On purpose: “The thing that’s worth doing is trying to improve our understanding of the world and gain a better appreciation of the universe and not to worry too much about there being no meaning. And, you know, try and enjoy yourself. Because, actually, life’s pretty good. It really is.”
- On government licensing: “We have essentially no patents in SpaceX. Our primary long-term competition is in China. If we published patents, it would be farcical, because the Chinese would just use them as a recipe book.”
- On ideas: “[Physics is] a good framework for thinking. … Boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there.”
- On hiring: “[My biggest mistake is probably] weighing too much on someone’s talent and not someone’s personality. I think it matters whether someone has a good heart.”
- On perseverance: “If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it.”
- On ambition: “The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”
- On raising kids: “I’m hopeful they will do things like engineering, or write books, or just, in some way, add more than they take from the world.”
- On progress: “I came to the conclusion that we should aspire to increase the scope and scale of human consciousness in order to better understand what questions to ask. Really, the only thing that makes sense is to strive for greater collective enlightenment.”
- On his childhood experiments: “It is remarkable how many things you can explode. I’m lucky I have all my fingers.”
- On iteration: “You want to be extra rigorous about making the best possible thing you can. Find everything that’s wrong with it and fix it. Seek negative feedback, particularly from friends.”
- On motive: “Going from PayPal, I thought: ‘Well, what are some of the other problems that are likely to most affect the future of humanity?’ Not from the perspective, ‘What’s the best way to make money?’”
- On moving fast: “Given that this is the first time in 4.5 billion years where it’s been possible for humanity to extend life beyond Earth, it seems like we’d be wise to act while the window was open and not count on the fact it will be open a long time.”