Entrepreneur Profile: Elon Musk

The Entrepreneur that I will be profiling is Elon Musk. The South African native is currently well known for his role as CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors, but that is only the most recent development in an impressive track of entrepreneurial activity. With a current new worth of $11.7 billion, the creative 43 year old has found success in multiple different industries and perfectly embodies the creative and calculating entrepreneur. Musk is an extremely interesting individual both inside the business world and out.

After deciding against studying for a PhD in Applied Sciences at Stanford, Musk started the company Zip2 with his brother, a “city guide” for newspaper publishers. Having contracts with both the New York Times and the Chicago Times, the company sold for over $300 million in 1999. After this, Musk went on to found an online financial services and payment company called X.com. In 2000, X.com merged with a company called Confinity, which eventually chose the name PayPal in 2001. In October of 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock, of which $165 million was given to Musk. With this small fortune acquired at a relative early age, Musk started a space transport services company called SpaceX. SpaceX is an extremely interesting company, with goals beyond revenue and profit. Musk dreamed of revolutionizing space travel, cutting costs by providing a private service and cutting out all the bureaucratic costs.  The Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 were the first two launch vehicles created by the company, along with the Dragon, a spacecraft. In 2006, SpaceX earned a contract with NASA, which was followed by another deal in 2008 worth $1.6 billion.  While the company’s overall success can be debated, the drive to expand knowledge past our world continues to drive Musk.

Much of Musk’s attention today falls on Tesla Motors. Tesla is the market leader in electric vehicles. As they faltered in the financial crisis, Musk took a controlling stake in the company and has not looked back since. The ultimate goal for Musk is to create a sub-$30,000 electric car that can ultimately be a cost effective choice for a widespread market. With a price point still at about $60,000, Musk has been using his own personal funds at times to put the capital necessary to make this plan work. An interesting note that speaks to Musk’s willingness to sacrifice monetary gains for a higher purpose is that he will allow for his company’s technology patents to be available to the public. This technology is a major competitive advantage that Musk is willing to sacrifice in order to advance an industry and a cause he firmly believes in.

Still in his early forties, Musk’s future is extremely bright. The beauty of Musk is that he could have retired in his twenties without a worry in the world, but that is simply not the way he is wired. His motivation goes past the dollar signs, and he will not rest until he can see the change he believes he is responsible for. I look forward to the future of the electric vehicle and any other industry Musk invests his time and money in.