I just finished the book Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, it’s the best biography I have ever read.
He is a real life iron man, even Robert Downey Jr (who stars the Iron Man series) have come to meet Elon on March 2007, take a tour around SpaceX facility and get inspiration from Elon’s character. “My mind is not easily blown, but this place and this guy were amazing”, Downey said. To Downey, the SpaceX facility looked like a giant, exotic hardware store. Enthusiastic employees were zipping about, fiddling with an assortment of machines. When he returned to the Iron Man production office, Downey asked to place a Tesla Roadster in Tony Stark’s workshop. On a superficial level, this would symbolise that Stark was so cool and connected that he could get a Roadster before it even went on sale. On a deeper level, the car was to be placed as the nearest object to Stark’s desk so that it formed something of a bond between the actor, the character, and Musk. “After meeting Elon and making him real to me, I felt like having his presence in the workshop”. Downey said. “They became contemporaries. Elon was someone Tony probably hung out with and partied with or more likely when on some weird jungle trek together to drink concoctions with the shamans”.
Musk’s first company is Zip2, a web software company providing business directories and maps to media companies and local e-commerce merchants (acquired by Compaq for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options in February 1999. Musk received 7% or US$22 million from the sale). In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2. One year later, the company merged with Confinity,which had a money transfer service called PayPal. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which US$165 million was given to Musk.
Right now Musk is running 3 disruptive companies in 3 different fields and each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry:
– SpaceX (founded on June 2002), SpaceX mission is To enable the space flight capabilities necessary to make human life multi-planetary. SpaceX builds space rocket & spacecraft in order to transport cargo and human into space. His goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10. SpaceX’s competitors are Boeing, Lockheet Martin, others rockets companies in Russia, China & India
– Tesla Motors (founded July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla’s board of directors as its chairman and assume leadership on 2008 as CEO and product architect, positions he still holds today). Tesla Motors designs and manufactures premium electric vehicles, and wants to be the biggest car makers in the world (it just reach 500,000 cars per year production benchmark), head to head compete with BMW, Fords, GM,…
– SolarCity (co-founded on 2006 with his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive). SolarCity designs, finances, and installs solar power systems in U.S. SolarCity is one of the rare successful solar energy panel company that survived 2008 crisis, went public and making profit in this solar energy business.
Work-life balance doesn’t exist in his dictionary, “He has been working sixteen hours a day every day for years. He gets more done than eleven people working together”. As his ex-wife, Justine, put it, “He does what he wants, and he is relentless about it. It’s Elon’s world, and the rest of us live in it”. Musk divorced Justine in 2008, they have 6 children (all boys), 1 died at few month age, 1 twins and 1 triplets. Then Musk married, divorced, remarried and then divorced the actress Talulah Riley. He’s looking for a girlfriend right now, but he only can afford to spend 5-10 hours a week for dating.
After reading this book, I really admire his vision & life mission, to build a future where human can colonise other planets, make launching rocket and bring human to other planet could be easily done everyday. To build a future with flying cars, super high speed tube (he called it Hyperloop), which he has plan to build a super high speed tube to carry human & even cars from one city to another city at 600km/h). To build a cleaner future with solar energy to replace the fossil fuel. That is a future that you now could only see in science fiction movie. But it will become possible if we have more people like Elon Musk.