Who is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk in 2020

Elon Musk in 2020

Elon Musk has completed his takeover of Twitter, the small but mighty social media platform used by politicians, journalists and neighborhood trolls to spread news, hot snaps and sometimes misinformation.

As he prepares to put his stamp on the company, let’s review what we know about the billionaire.

Where was Elon Musk born?

Since bursting onto the Silicon Valley scene more than two decades ago, the 50-year-old serial entrepreneur has kept audiences enthralled with his business antics.

South African-born Mr Musk showed his entrepreneurial skills early on, going door-to-door with his brother selling homemade chocolate Easter eggs and developing his first video game at age 12 years old.

He described his childhood as difficult, colored by his parents’ divorce, bullying at school and his own difficulty picking up social cues because of Asperger’s Syndrome. At the first opportunity, he left home for college, moving to Canada and then to the United States, where he studied economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League college. .

In a 2010 essay for Marie Claire, his first wife, Justine Musk, a writer who met Mr. Musk in college and married him in 2000, wrote that even before his millions, Mr. Musk never was “not a man who takes no for an answer”.

“The drive to compete and dominate that made him so successful in business didn’t magically turn off when he came home,” she recalls, adding that he told her while dancing at their wedding, “I’m the alpha in this relationship.”

How did Elon Musk make his money?

After being accepted into a graduate program in physics at Stanford University, Mr. Musk quickly dropped out and founded two tech start-ups during the “dot com boom” of the 1990s. included a web software company and an online banking company that eventually became PayPal, which was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.

He invested his fortune in a new rocket company, SpaceX – which he aimed to make a profitable alternative to Nasa – and a new electric car company, Tesla, whose board he chaired until becoming CEO in 2008.

Elon Musk in 2004

Elon Musk in 2004, shortly after launching SpaceX

Both companies are credited with shaking up their industries, even as they sometimes came close to financial collapse.

“I’m never very convinced that he knows what he wants to do tomorrow,” said journalist Chris Stokel-Walker. “He leads a lot by instinct.”

In a 2015 biography, author Ashlee Vance described Mr Musk as “a conflicted know-it-all” with an “abundant ego”. But he also called him an awkward dancer and a shy speaker.

Divorced three times – twice to the same woman – Mr Musk is outspoken about his vices, regularly discussing his fondness for marijuana.

In the press, he’s been dubbed both a mad genius and Twitter’s biggest troll – known as much for his lofty ambitions as his petty fights, not to mention the more serious lawsuits he and his businesses have faced from regulators, investors and others on issues such as racial discrimination and the reliability of his claims.

“If you list my sins, I look like the worst person on Earth,” Musk said in a recent TED interview. “But if you compare them to the things I’ve done well, it makes a lot more sense.”

What is Elon Musk’s net worth?

All of these contradictions seem to be part of his appeal – and it certainly hasn’t stopped him from amassing a fortune.

Forbes and Bloomberg now rank him as the richest person in the world, with a net worth of around $250 billion, tens of billions more than rivals such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

This is largely based on the value of his shares in Tesla, of which he owns about 17%. The company’s shares have exploded in value – some say unreasonably – since the start of 2020, rising by a factor of 10 as the company’s output increased and it began to generate steady profits.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Elon Musk and son X Æ A-12 on stage TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City.  (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME)

Elon Musk and his son X Æ A-12 in 2021. Mr Musk, a father of nine, called ‘population collapse’ a bigger risk than global warming

Mr. Musk is also an advocate for digital currencies and is involved with several other small businesses, including tunnel maker The Boring Company and experimental brain-computer startup Neuralink.

Mr Musk, who proudly wears the mantle of a workaholic, has often said he is not in business just to make money – claims he has repeated recently about his takeover of Twitter.

“Elon only gets involved in things that he feels are critically important for some reason…for the good of society or humanity,” says Tesla friend and investor Ross Gerber. .

Is Elon Musk a Democrat or a Republican?

Mr Musk, who became a US citizen in 2002, has resisted efforts to label his politics – calling himself “half Democrat, half Republican”, “politically moderate” and “independent”.

This does not mean that he is turning away from the political debate.

He injected himself into some of the world’s hottest geopolitical fights – suggesting China should establish a ‘special administrative zone’ in Taiwan and offering terms to resolve the war in Ukraine that have been flatly rejected by many top leaders. from the country.

In the United States, he moved to Texas, complaining about California regulations and high taxes; clashed with union organizers; and, in the spring of 2020, called the coronavirus lockdowns “fascist”.

Tesla boss Elon Musk at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing opening party in Austin, Texas.

Elon Musk at the Tesla Gigafactory Opening Party in Austin, Texas

He was one of the first business executives to part ways with former President Donald Trump, quitting a White House business council after Mr Trump pulled the United States out of a global deal on the climate.

But he also made it clear that he is not a fan of President Joe Biden, whom he sees as snubbing Tesla while promoting electric vehicles.

Direct political giving is relatively small for a man of his wealth — having given just $100,000 since 2004, according to Politico — split fairly evenly across parties, at least in the early years: he gave the former president Barack Obama in 2011 and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2015, but more recently has focused on Republicans.

The American Civil Liberties Union, an American non-profit organization known for championing values ​​such as free speech, has recognized him as one of its key supporters. However, reports suggest most of Mr Musk’s donations have gone to his own charitable foundations, which will eventually disburse the funds.

He said recently that he views his businesses as a form of philanthropy because they focus on solving major human issues, like climate change in Tesla’s case.

Last fall, when the head of the United Nations World Food Program called on billionaires to make one-time donations to solve the global food crisis, Mr Musk responded skeptically to the challenge.

What all of this will mean for Twitter – a platform already facing criticism from left and right over its content moderation policies – is anyone’s guess.

“The easiest part for Musk was buying Twitter,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. “The hardest part will be fixing it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *