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Elon Musk

Thanks to pioneering firms like SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk has become one of America’s leading businessmen. He is often compared to Steve Jobs in terms of his vision and drive. Many are curious how Musk attained his success and what is next for his companies. In Elon Musk, Ashlee Vance provides a biography of the business giant and offers insight into his work and personal life.

  • Childhood. Elon Musk was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. At age 17, Musk left for Canada. He attended Queen’s University in Ontario and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he earned degrees in economics and physics.
  • First start-up. Musk and his brother, Kimbal, founded Global Link Information Network in 1995. The company created a searchable directory of businesses and integrated the information with maps. The company was rebranded as Zip2 and was eventually bought by Compaq Computer.
  • PayPal. After leaving Zip2, Musk founded the online bank X.com in November 1999. X.com merged with Confinity—a startup that offered the PayPal service. Musk was pushed out of the CEO role. He stayed on as an advisor and received $180 million after taxes when eBay purchased PayPal in 2002.
  • SpaceX. After the PayPal sale, Musk founded SpaceX. The company’s goal was to build its own rocket engines more cheaply than others by applying lean startup methods. In 2008, the company launched the first privately built rocket to reach orbit. In 2012, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule successfully docked with the International Space Station.
  • Tesla Motors. Tesla has successfully developed electric cars that consumers are eager to own. Tesla has released the Roadster, the Model S, and the Model X. It plans to release the more affordable Model 3 in 2017.
  • SolarCity. Musk is the chairman and largest shareholder in this company founded by his cousins. SolarCity installs and leases solar panels to consumers. By 2012, it was the largest solar panel installer in the United States.

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