PORTRAIT. Elon Musk: SpaceX, Tesla, Twitter… how the wealthy businessman made his fortune

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Born in South Africa, became the richest man on the planet in less than 50 years, who really is Elon Musk? The SpaceX and Tesla boss just took to Twitter. Back to your journey.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is one of the most famous business owners in the world, along with Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, or Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft. Elon Musk is the richest. With an estimated fortune of $188.5 billion*, he became the richest person in the world in 2021. 49 years old.

It all started for young Elon in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. His father is a wealthy South African landowner who owned an emerald mine in Zambia, and his mother is a Canadian model and nutritionist. His parents divorced when he was 8 years old. The story is about a young Ilo who read two books a day and sold a video game program called Blastar for $500 when he was 12 years old. At the age of 17, he went to Canada to study and received a diploma in management. Four years later, I left for the United States to study physics and economics**. His father cut him off and earned a scholarship in the United States, interrupting his studies in Canada.

Elon Musk was a student in Pennsylvania, USA in 1994.
Photo by MaxPPP

PayPal, the origin of his wealth

In 1995, Elon Musk founded his first company. Zip2 is a software company that enables media growth on the web. Computer giant Compaq bought it 4 years later for $341 million. Later, Elon Musk launched one of the first online banks: X.com. A few months later, it was acquired by its direct competitor to create PayPal, which allows individuals to exchange money. The sale brings him 180 million dollars.

SpaceX, space adventure

In the early 2000s, Elon Musk discovered that NASA lacked ambition. So he founded SpaceX. Every year, SpaceX develops and manufactures space rockets, reusable rockets, cargo ships with the intention of making possible the colonization of the planet Mars. Since 2012, SpaceX has been supplying the International Space Station. And nine years later, it was Falcon 9, one of Elon Musk’s launch vehicles, that sent Tomas Pesquet to the ISS. Outside of SpaceX, Elon Musk launched the Starlink project, a fleet of satellites in orbit to provide internet access anywhere on Earth.

Space X founder Elon Musk in Berlin, December 1, 2020.

Space X founder Elon Musk in Berlin, December 1, 2020.
Photo by MaxPPP

Tesla, the adventure of the electric car

In 2004, Elon Musk made the choice to enter the capital of the car manufacturer Tesla. An electric car, he firmly believes in it. As president of Tesla in the late 2000s, he launched an electric sports car before introducing an electric sedan to the car market. Until 2018, we have to wait for the Tesla Model 3 to go on sale, a model sold for about 50,000 euros, which at the time was more accessible than the competition.

A Tesla electric car at a charging station in California on September 12, 2022.

A Tesla electric car at a charging station in California on September 12, 2022.
Photo by MaxPPP

Hyperloop, a silent train adventure

In 2012, Elon Musk chose to invest in passenger transportation. He envisioned a subsonic TGV capable of carrying passengers and freight at a speed of 1,200 km/h in capsules lifted by airbags. The company is called Hyperloop. A test track is planned in Texas. In 2018, a research and development center with about thirty engineers was installed at Toulouse-Françazal airport. The announced test track ultimately does not see the light of day. This week, the Hyperloop test tunnel at SpaceX headquarters in California was quietly dismantled. Last summer, Time wrote that Elon Musk’s only real goal with the Hyperloop was to cancel the TGV project in California***.

Hyperloop tube at Toulouse-France airport, November 22, 2021.

Hyperloop tube at Toulouse-France airport, November 22, 2021.
Photo DDM archive, Laurent Dard

Twitter, the adventure of social networks

Avid Twitter user Elon Musk initially considered creating a competing network, but ultimately decided to buy back 9.2% of the shares in early 2022. In the spring, he made an offer to buy all the shares. Twitter sees this as a hostile takeover and activates its protection mechanism. The businessman offers an extraordinary price of 44 billion dollars. Controversy arose over the summer over multiple fake Twitter accounts and the financing of the acquisition. At the end of October, Elon Musk finally buys Twitter for 44 billion and fires the leaders.

Telon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion.

Telon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion.
Photo by MaxPPP

Explosive behavior

Its investments — and less well-known ones like artificial intelligence and neural implants — let it know interest centers. Impulsive, provocative (he suggested a “man-to-man fight” with Vladimir Putin on Twitter), self-righteous, unrestricted and taboo, Asperger’s Elon Musk shakes up codes and clashes with his business behavior. . He relies on a small circle of about ten people, including his younger brother Kimbal, who approves his decisions and carries out his orders. New York Times****.

Among the causes close to Elon Musk’s heart: libertarianism, a political philosophy in which a just society should protect the freedom of every individual who should be able to enjoy maximum freedom. Hence his willingness to give Twitter more freedom. A businessman is concerned about global warming despite his numerous private jet trips. Recently, he expressed concern about the declining birth rate, which he believes could wipe out our civilization.

Father of ten children

But who is the man behind the businessman? He is first and foremost a father of… ten children! Her first child died suddenly when she was ten weeks old. He had six children with Canadian writer Justine Wilson. The couple divorced in 2008 after eight years of marriage. In 2010, he married British actress Taulah Riley. The couple divorced in 2012, remarried in 2013, and divorced again in 2016. In 2017, Elon Musk lived with American actress Amber Heard, ex-girlfriend of actor Johnny Depp. A year later, she meets Canadian singer Grimes. The couple has two children. The relationship ends in 2021. In the same year, his new partner Shivon Zilis from Canada gave birth to twins.

Either adored or loathed, brutal in his methods on Twitter lately, but at the start of advances in many tech sectors, Elon Musk remains arguably one of the most talented businessmen of his generation.

* Estimated by US news agency Bloomberg in January 2021
** Elon Musk: The Entrepreneur Who Will Change the World by Ashlee Vance, Eyrolles Publications
*** Article Time Click here to read in English.
*** Article New York Times should be read in International mail by clicking here.

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