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South African Born Elon Musk set for His “Mission to Mars”
It was bad South African TV that gave Elon Musk part of his mysterious edge. As a 10-year-old he read whole volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica after emptying the family bookshelves—anything to avoid another episode of ChiPs or Die Man van Intersek.
Entrepreneurial, Aspiring, Enterprising, Risk taking, Driven, Visionary, Goal oriented, Enthusiasm and constant willingness to exploit new ideas and opportunities, these are the words that best describes the South African born billionaire business magnate, engineer and inventor Elon Musk. Elon is best known as the co-founder of the world largest internet payment system Paypal, He also founded SpaceX, a space transport company headquartered in Hawthorne, California, Tesla Motors a silicon valley based manufacturer of electric cars, SolarCity, a provider of energy services to homeowners, businesses and government/non-profit organizations. Elon is really changing the world.
He is currently the CEO and Chief Designer of SpaceX, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors and Chairman of SolarCity.
When One of Elon’s companies (SpaceX) Dragon capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean on May 31, 2012, it was indeed a great feat for Elon Musk and his company the SpaceX.
To hear Elon Musk talk about his career and his long term goal of making life multiplanetary, listen to this 2009 interview with Musk.
Successful missions to the International Space Station (ISS) in the past have only been accomplished by four other nations: USA, Japan, Russia and the European Space Agency.
When “Dragon,” was able to carry up to seven astronauts into orbit and beyond, it made history by becoming the first privately owned commercial spacecraft to successfully attach to the International Space Station, It was definitely a good day for Musk as he said on Twitter – “Dragon captured by the International Space Station! Just awesome …”
Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, in 1971, he is the son of a South African father and Canadian mother. Elon matriculated at Pretoria Boys High School in the 80’s, he later graduated with a degree in Economics from Wharton, and a Physics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Musk bought his first computer at the age of 10 and taught himself how to write computer programs; by the age of 12 he sold his first commercial software for about $500, it was a computer game on space which he called Blastar.
Musk afterwards left Stanford University to start his first business project – Zip2 – which was a business to build websites for media companies, an online content publishing software for news organizations which he later sold this to Compaq in 1999, Zip2 was acquired for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options.
He moved on to start X.com, In February 2001, X.com changed its legal name to PayPal Inc, in October 2002, PayPal was sold to eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock. just before the sale of Paypal, Elon Musk, who happened to be the company’s largest shareholder owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares.
Musk is now pursuing his three main interests: SpaceX (a space transport company), Tesla (maker of the world’s first electric sports car) and SolarCity (a company that designs and installs solar energy systems), where according to him there are ”important problems that would most affect the future of humanity”
No background in Finance, Automotive Industry or Movies
Musk admits that, beyond a short internship as a cashier at a bank, he had no financial services background before he co-founded Paypal with Peter Thiel. Elon did not have a background in the automotive industry before setting up Tesla, the electric-car company valued at more than $2billion. Similarly, Elon did not know anything about movie business before he produced the brilliant satire Thank You for Smoking and later featured in the move Iron Man II
With technology success stories emerging from Africa, story of Elon Musk and others like him such as Mark Shuttleworth (South African founder of Thawte, later sold to VeriSign), Mo Ibrahim ( Sudanese Billionaire founder of CelTel), or Mike Adenuga (Nigerian founder of Globacom) Entrepreneurs know that it is possible to be the next success story anywhere they are.