Does Elon Musk need an introduction? Seeing the meteoric rise of Tesla and NASA’s involvement in SpaceX, the world now watches Musk with bated breath rather than raised eyebrows. Most have come to understand that if this man wants something, he will get it, through all ways possible. He has a will of iron and a social media presence most business leaders would give an arm and a leg to have. People watch him, follow him, and interact with him—some through appreciation, some through detraction. But no one can ignore him.
And another thing about Musk is that one has to take his word at face value. When he founded The Boring Company and started selling hats at $20 a piece, he tweeted that if he sold 50,000 hats, he’d sell a flamethrower next. Guess what? Flamethrowers are what The Boring Company sold next and Musk tweeted that these nifty little propane flamers could really come in handy to keep the zombies at bay. So there one has it, a man who says what he does, and does what he says, even if it is foolhardy, and booed by the naysayers.
With three marriages (twice to the same woman) and three divorces, a well-scrutinized relationship with Amber Heard that went kaput and a current dating relationship with the musician known as Grimes, Musk manages to be quite the ladies’ man. And with five sons, a set of twins and a set of triplets, Musk is apparently an expert in dad jokes or so he says on social media. On that note, here are 25 other things you may not have known about this Tesla maker and Hyperloop founder…
25 The Wheels Of His Car Fell Off
Musk is a self-made millionaire but he wasn’t born with a silver spoon or anything. In fact, his mother once held five jobs to support the kids. The very first car that Musk bought was an old 1978 BMW 320i that he shelled out $1,400 for. According to Forbes, Musk fixed the car himself and used it pretty well—so much so that when one of his interns from his first company Zip2 was driving it, the wheels fell off! The car had lasted him just two years when it finally gave up, so this auto giant owner was for a while left minus any wheels!
24 He And Google Guy Are Founder Besties
Best friends do not have to have the same interests. We all have that one friend who’s too much into something we don’t even like. But we still remain friends with them. Turns out, Musk isn’t much more different than us, even if he can afford to send people in space while we just space out because of people. Sigh. Anyhow, Musk has been longtime pals with Google’s co-founder, Larry Page. And the two could not be more different, because Musk is all about humanity whilst Page is all about AI. Even so, they crash out at each other’s pads, because bros before business people. Even if it is Tesla versus Google for self-driving car supremacy.
23 Tesla Made Many A Rich Man
Had any of us put in some worth and belief into Elon Musk and Tesla when he made a public offering to put his finances in order, we would be rich today. A $1,000 investment made in Tesla in 2010 would be valued at about $21,000 or more today. So, when a visionary gives an opportunity, it should be grabbed with both hands and not pondered over till eternity. Musk will not let Tesla go down and Tesla will not let its investors down…probably.
22 2008 Nearly Broke Musk
The 2008 financial crisis hit Tesla pretty hard and Musk put his all into making sure the company did not need to go broke. He almost broke himself in the process and this was also the time he was struggling with SpaceX, a venture everyone labeled foolhardy. Christmas 2018 brought Santa for Musk, though, because Tesla found investors and SpaceX managed to land a $1.5 billion contract with NASA. Doesn’t get as bad and then better than this…
21 He Barely Makes A Living As A CEO
If Musk did not already have personal wealth and some 35 million Tesla shares and the earnings from Space X, he might find it hard to make ends meet. Why? Because Musk’s total compensation package for Tesla is less than $40,000 a year—and the payment is calculated based more on the minimum wage law of California than actual paychecks. And no, he doesn’t cash the paychecks, according to Fortune. Of course, he is still one of the top 100 richest men on the planet, so we wouldn’t worry about his bank balance.
20 Musk Likes Secret Messages
No, this is not an invitation for any of us to send one to him. Musk simply likes to put hidden messages on his rockets. In 2010, Dragon capsule’s test flight carried a wheel of cheese into orbit, which was obeisance to actor John Cleese’s skit from the British comedy show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. If that doesn’t tickle your cheese, the Tesla Roadster launched into space had a "Don’t Panic" sign on it, Musk’s favorite phrase from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
19 Ditch Cars To Travel Faster?
Musk cannot help his brain from spinning new, bold, and bolder ideas. In 2013, Musk talked about his latest pet project barely three years after he first launched a rocket in space. Hyperloop is envisaged by Musk as a new form of transportation that may not be as cool as saying “energize” in William Shatner’s gravelly drone—but is closer to reality than fiction. Apparently, Hyperloop could send people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes through pressurized tubes.
18 Dropped Out Of Stanford To Become A Millionaire
After two bachelor degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Musk enrolled to get a Ph.D. at Stanford University, only to drop out two days later. He then, along with his brother, set up his first company, called Zip2. The company provided maps and business directories for online newspapers and websites and made quite a hefty heap while it lasted. Musk, with his trademark drive, wanted to do bigger and better so he sold Zip2 in 1999 for a whopping $307 million—thus becoming a millionaire at the age of 28. What was next in line? An online payment company we now all know as PayPal!
17 The Man Behind PayPal
In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 and founded X.com, which was an online financial service and e-mail payment company, with a modest budget of $10 million. Later, this company merged with Confinity, which had a money-transfer service called PayPal. In 2001, the merged company itself was renamed PayPal, though by now, Musk was no longer its CEO because of disagreements with the board members. He wanted to PayPal to shift to Windows from Unix and the others disagreed. He was still on board and a major shareholder of PayPal (11.7%), though, and in 2002, PayPal was bought by eBay and Musk received $165 million for his stock.
16 The McLaren F1 Musk Totaled
After selling PayPal, Musk decided to go for another dream car: this time it was a McLaren F1 which he used as a daily driver, clocking some 11,000 miles on it. One day, he was driving with Peter Thiel (the co-founder of PayPal along with Musk) when Thiel asked Musk what could the McLaren do. Rather famously, Musk remarked, “Watch this.” He did a lane change on Sand Hill in Menlo Park, hit an embankment, and flipped the car over several times before it hit the ground and literally shattered. Even more interesting is the fact that this car wasn’t insured and basically went for a complete loss with body damage, broken windows, and shredded tires.
15 He Loves His Comics and His Robots
Musk is now dad to five sons and is a huge fan of comics in general, though he seems to share a special love for Marvel’s X-Men. So much so that one of his sons is named Xavier, after the X-Men’s Professor X. But that’s not all. Musk has also named all the automated robots in Tesla’s factory after X-Men characters. So there’s Xavier, Iceman, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Vulcan, and Havoc. According to Clean Technica, this what the robots do: “Xavier stands at the entrance to the trim line, lifting cars down to the floor from an electrified rail. Iceman, Wolverine, and Beast engage in heavy lifting. Storm and Colossus can be found at the end of the chassis line. Vulcan and Havoc: work as a team to lift cars back onto the rail.”
14 Musk Owns “Wet Nellie” The Bond Lotus Esprit
According to the Huffington Post, in 2013, Elon Musk purchased the Lotus Esprit car from the iconic James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. This was the car dubbed as "Wet Nellie" because it could, in the movie, turn into a submarine. When the movie came out, Musk was a little kid in South Africa, enchanted with the car that was driven off the pier by James Bond and transformed into a submarine with the touch of a button.
13 He Promises To Turn It Into An Actual Submarine
Musk later told Huffington Post, "I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.” We don’t know how much of this has been followed through but knowing Musk, if he has said it, he will find a way to do it. We only hope that paying some $1 million for the car at the auction wasn’t a complete write off for him, considering all the car can do is drive.
12 Tesla Is More A Step-Child Than A Biological One
No, the headline doesn’t mean that Musk is not passionate about Tesla. He is, to the point of insolvency. This just means that Musk did not found Tesla. The company was founded in July of 2003, around the time Musk had wound up from PayPal, by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. However, because of the doldrums it faced in between, Tesla now names Musk, JB Straubel, and Ian Wright as co-founders. But there can be no one more passionate than Musk to breathe life into it.
11 Musk Invested In Tesla Through Personal Funds
Musk is no newbie to the game of business but he is a businessman with a difference. Once he commits to a certain cause, he gives it his heart and soul. The same was the case with Tesla. In 2004, Musk became the chairman of Tesla. But it was only a year later, when he led the first series of funding in 2004 and invested a major share of the $7.5 million through personal funds, that he became the controlling investor in Tesla, as well. After a financial crisis, he eventually became its CEO in 2008.
10 The Gullwing Doors of The Tesla Model X
Musk owned a Q7 and during a Forbes video walkthrough, he remarked, “The Audi Q7 is particularly horrible. Even in the best case scenario, you need to be a dwarf mountain climber to get into the back seat.” Inspired by this issue, Musk got falcon wings doors or gullwing doors in the Tesla Model X. The idea was to make it easier for the passenger to access the third row without lowering the seats of the second row. The doors could open in tight spaces, too, and make it easier for the passengers.
9 Musk Is Afraid Of The Terminator
No, no veiled reference here. Musk fears human desolation brought about by too much dependence on artificial intelligence. So he founded OpenAI in 2015, which is a non-profit organization that does research into the various threats that AI poses to the human world both now and later. It does sound very Terminator in the plot to us and frankly, we are bound to agree with him on this one. No one wants to be chased down by superior robots if they look hunky and cool.
8 But Then He Also Wants To Put Chips In Our Brains
According to Money, Musk has launched yet another venture, called Neuralink. Apparently, he really wants humans to have the edge of AI and so he is exploring the possibilities of implanting computers, or at least computer chips, into human brains. The idea is to prepare the human race with enough mental acuity and armor to make sure we have the edge over even the most advanced AI, in case there’s an AI-related armageddon in the near future. Way to go for the human race…
7 He Starred In The Simpsons
Musk appeared in a 2015 episode of The Simpsons, playing himself. In the animated show, the animated Musk launches himself into space in the Dragon craft. Lisa Simpson then remarks, “For a man who likes electric cars, he sure burns a lot of rocket fuel.” Of course, while the remark was made in jest, Musk did take to the internet to explain why rockets propelled by electricity would not be able to reach orbit, ever. Rocket fuel is simply non-replaceable for now.
6 SpaceX Started With Rats
Musk has been a diehard sci-fi fan and an avid reader and follower of Isaac Asimov. So he initially wanted to send some mice or plants to Mars, just to sort of test it out. For the same, he tried to buy decommissioned rockets from Russia but balked at the $8-million price tag. Musk decided to create his own way when there was no way and so SpaceX was born. Everyone thought it was too big a bite to chew but when Musk landed a NASA deal, well, thoughts turned around pretty quick.
5 He Is Charitable, But For A Cause
Musk may have a ton of change to spare but he focuses his giving on four basic key areas. According to The Musk Foundation, the areas are, “renewable energy research and advocacy, human space exploration research and advocacy, pediatric research and science, and engineering education.” And so this foundation is benevolent to Oceana, Doctors Without Borders, National Wildlife Federation, and more… And Musk is right; one must be charitable about what one believes in. Just throwing money around isn’t philanthropy.
4 After Electric Cars, It’s The Electric Jet
So after Zip2, PayPal, Tesla, The Boring Company, and Hyperloop, Musk is now off doing something even newer and more breathtaking. So what if he is digging tunnels under LA and selling flamethrowers online? So what if pressurized tubes can ferry people faster than the fastest car? Now, Musk wants to take electric to the sky and is working on the Musk Electric Jet. It is supposed to be a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion and we may see it sooner than we think.
3 Realizing That Teenage Car Fantasy
According to Forbes, Musk had a book about classic convertibles when he was 17. And like any other teenage boy, he’d dream about owning one of those beauties in life. Unlike most other teenage boys, though, he managed to realize his dream pretty soon. Musk got an initial bonus for Zip2, a mapping software company that he and his brother founded. The check was a cool $40,000 so Musk put down for the car he had liked the best: a 1967 E-Type Jaguar. He got his dream, only to realize the car was no good and kept costing him time and money. But it did look good!
2 An Entrepreneur, At The Tender Age Of 10
So the guy who enrolled, got accepted, and then dropped out of Stanford has to be something really special. And indeed, when Musk was a wee boy of 10, he learned computer programming all by himself on his Commodore Vic-10. Obviously, this was not an overnight thing, so he kept at it for a while, presumably with the help of his teachers. By the age of 12, he had developed a PC-based game called Blastar where the player had to shoot rockets at aliens. He sold this game to a computer magazine for approximately $500, and funnily enough, you can still play this rudimentary game online.
1 He’s The Real Iron Man—Or Rather Tony Stark
Parts of Musk went into the inspiration behind Iron Man, or rather the man behind the hero, Tony Stark. According to Recode, Jon Favreau said “Robert Downey, when we were prepping ‘Iron Man,’ said, ‘There’s somebody we should sit down and talk with.’” While Iron Man is obviously based on the Marvel comic character, Downey Jr. felt that Musk could shed light on how it felt to be Stark. They met and have been friends ever since. Musk let them film at SpaceX for free and even made a cameo appearance in the movie, discussing jet-building with Stark for the movie.
Sources: The Musk Foundation, Forbes, USAToday, HuffingtonPost, Recode, and Clean Technica.