Elon Musk – The richest man of the world. A single man with so much money he could buy every single person on Earth 3 Big macs and still have enough money left over to buy the International Space Station. But how did he manage to obtain these riches? Could it be possible for anyone else to get to his level today? I will try to answer all these questions and more as we look closer look at business life of Elon Musk.
How did Elon Musk get his wealth?
First thing first, we have to acknowledge that Elon Musk definitely wasn’t born poor. Born in South Africa, his father was a millionaire ‘half-owner’ of a large emerald mine. Even his mostly forgotten mother was a financial powerhouse. Since she started working from a young age, she managed to get many connections, which would help her amass millions of dollars. Even today, Maey Musk is still working as a beauty model. Elon has tried to distance himself from his parent in the past years, but it’s undeniable that the wealth of his parents had an influence in his early career
Another thing that helped kick-start Elon’ career was that he founded his first business, zip2, in his early twenties with his brother. His father also gave them $28,000 in early funding (Elon denies this claim). That company went defunct only after 4 year, so Elon tried again with X.com. I talked about that business in this article, so i won’t mention it here. Just know that later created Paypal.
Main thing, Elon Musk definitely didn’t go from zero to hero, even though he might try to say the contrary. He started out already fairly wealthy, and with a safety net in his parents. But this doesn’t mean his successes are unearned. To put it simply, you won’t become the richest man in the world just because you have rich parents.
What companies does Elon Musk own?
Now, let’s talk about at least some of the companies Elon either founded/co-founded, or bought.
A company already mentioned. Zip2 was created by Elon and his brother, with additional funding from their father. It’s goal was essentially to be a city guide/tour. They even managed to contact some really big companies, like New York Times, but those contacts eventually led nowhere. In 1999, 4 years after it’s founding, Zip2 was bought by Compaq.
One of the few companies on this list that Elon Musk is the only founder of and that didn’t go bankrupt (for now at least). SpaceX was created to help Elon build more cost-effective rockets, after he was unable to purchase rockets from Russia. The first few flights were completely unsuccessful, almost causing the company to go bankrupt. But when they managed to lift a rocket all the way to Earth’s orbit, they were eventually saved by NASA.
To this day, SpaceX is a leading company in spaceship design. In 2020, they managed to get several achievements in one flight – they launched the most powerful rocket as of that time, and also were the first private company to dock at the ISS.
A subsidiary of SpaceX, Starlink was founded in 2015. It’s main goal being to provide a world-wide satellite internet access. Starlink already has around 4,000 satellites in orbit, with around 9,000 more being planned.
Even though Elon Musk didn’t found Tesla directly he was playing a major role in it’s business from the very start. Since he was one of the biggest contributors for the creation of the company, he was put as the chairman of the board of directors. Although there later was a lawsuit, because of which Musk was legally put as the co-founder. But don’t be mistaken – Tesla was created by merging 2 companies, neither of which had any relationship to Elon.
After some more lawsuits and disagreements, Musk was later put as the CEO in 2008. After that, he began to steer Tesla into what it is today. He was the first to propose the idea of a fully electric car – the Roadster. The car was, from a financial perspective, a failure. It didn’t sell very well, only selling around 2,000 cars, mostly in the USA, almost only to people already interested in Tesla. But that’s not what the Roadster is popular for. It was also the Car that Tesla sent to space, which is most probably how most people first heard about Tesla
A fairly new company, Neuralink aims to combine the power of the human brain with the power of AI. It plans to do this by embedding a small computer chip into your skull, which would connect to your brain. Since it’s fairly new, there’s really not much to talk about, since no chips were sold yet. The chips are still only tested on animals, with actual clinical trials starting “soon”. But even the animal testing turned out to be a problem, because in 2022, a federal probe was launched because of alleged animal cruelty.
The Boring company(2017)
Another company with little to talk about. It was created as a tunnel digging company, which was supposed to built tunnels for new kind of high-speed vehicle. The goal was to circumvent above-ground traffic, but the test tunnel they build on the ground of SpaceX turned out to be “an uncomfortable ride with sub-optimal speed”
Again, the most interesting thing about this company was it’s marketing. Mostly because to finance it, Elon Musk started selling “Boring company (Not a) Flamethrower”s (which were technically just large propane torches). Not only was this a crazy idea, but it actually sold – 20,000 separate “not-flamethrowers” were sold in this campaign.
And lastly, let’s talk about the fiasco that was the Twitter takeover. In April of 2022, Elon started a massive legal battle over Twitter ownership, which concluded in October that year. The total cost was $44 billion. He had to take a lot of money out of his other companies, mainly Tesla, to be able to make it work. Because of that, Tesla’s shares dropped by about 10%, and his other companies didn’t do so well either.
Immediately after the acquisition, Elon fired many of Twitter highest members, with many more layoffs to follow. He had to do this because, and this was a widely known topic, Twitter was basically bleeding money. Because of that, and also many more issues i don’t want to delve into, Twitter is now valued at around $15 billion.
tip: If you’re interested in more companies, i would advise checking other articles i wrote about different companies.
Is it possible to become like Elon Musk today?
Firstly, let’s answer the question this article is about $46.3 million every day. That’s about 500 dollars every second. Basically, in the the time i took you to read this article, Elon Musk has made more money than the average american makes in a year.
To put it simply, you won’t be the next Elon Musk. To be honest, you’ll probably be lucky if you manage to reach the level he was on when he was born. Many people will tell you that he got to where he is because of hard work and genuine intellect, but that is, frankly, just not correct. He was incredibly lucky with his business ventures, and he manage to “dominate” the markets in which he had basically no competition (Mars travel, electric cars).
But there’s another, in my opinion much more important question – Should you want to be like Elon Musk?
Because when you really look at it, most of his decisions turned out to be the wrong ones. Almost every company he founded either went bankrupt, or got bought. And even the companies that are successful don’t even hold a candle to the real giant of those industries. He is ,where he is, only because he had a habit of being at the right place at the right time.
Maybe you won’t be the next Elon Musk. But that’s okay, not everyone can be on top. As the saying goes “even being average means you’re better than half of the people”.
If you really want to be really successful, the best advice i can give is be passionate about what you’re doing. If you give it everything you can then maybe, just maybe, it will give you everything you want.