Known by different names around the globe, Elon Musk is considered an enigma, one that has the power to change world markets with a single tweet–but that’s not everything you should know about him.
Image shows Musk alongside Talulah Riley in 2009. Credit: AP
He keeps himself busy on projects ranging from electric cars to colonizing Mars – when he’s not facing off critics on social media.
And his love life and political moves make no shortage of headlines.
But who is Elon Musk and how did he get to become one of the world’s most influential and controversial figures? From $500 code seller to multi-millionaire sounds like a joke, right?
The entrepreneur, who was born in South Africa in 1971, showed an interest in technology – and money – at an early age when he sold the code of a video game called Blastar to a computer magazine for $500, at just 12-years-old.
He moved across the Atlantic for his education and attended Pennsylvania University – it was here when he made further moves into business.
Not in the traditional sense either; he and a friend rented out a fraternity house as a nightclub.
He intended to study for a PhD but had his head turned by the Dot-Com boom.
Early ventures like Zip2 and X.com gave him the capital to become CEO of online payments system PayPal in 2000.
Though he didn’t last long – being booted out while on holiday – he made his time count – earning a life-altering $165 million as a shareholder when the company was acquired by eBay in 2002.
The next few years saw him pursue his boyhood obsession with science fiction.
He founded SpaceX – an aerospace company with the goal of reducing space travel costs with the eventual goal of colonising Mars.
He named his vehicles after the fictional Star Wars Millennium Falcon spaceships.
The early years were bumpy but Musk hit the jackpot again on Christmas 2008. Nasa awarded SpaceX a $1.5 billion contract, placing the company firmly at the aerospace table as a serious player.
Ten years later, the company had overseen dozens of launches and recently carried a dummy named ‘Starman’ into space, driving a Tesla Roadster, as this report shows:
Ah yes, about Tesla: Musk bought into the electric-car company in 2004, then staged a boardroom coup in 2007, nearly lost the company during the 2008 economic crisis but ultimately turned it around.
And now after this tweet, the company soared to a value of $63.8 billion (£49.7 billion) within 24 hours.
Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) August 7, 2018
But, his fondness for making statements on Twitter has backfired on occasion.
On April Fool’s Day, as reports were circulating that Tesla was on the verge of bankruptcy, a series of prank tweets by Musk were criticized by many who deemed it inappropriate given thousands relied on their job at his company.
His private life has generated headlines too.
In 2009, he divorced his wife of nine years Justine Wilson, with whom he has five sons.
A year later, he married actress Talulah Riley before divorcing again in 2012. They remarried in July 2013 before Musk once again filed for divorce in December 2014 but later withdrew.