Born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria (South Africa).
Training: graduated in administration from Queen’s University (Canada), in physics and economics at the University of Pennsylvania (USA), began a doctorate in physics at Stanford University (not completed).
Career : co-founder of Zip2 (1995-1999), X.com (1999-2002), SpaceX (since 2002), first shareholder then CEO of Tesla (since 2008).
A fortune of over 70 billion
Musk sells electric cars, but mostly dreams. Since the start of the year, his fortune has more than doubled, topping $ 110 billion. Lately, Tesla's capitalization has even surpassed that of Toyota. And too bad if the Japanese, super-innovative, sells 10.2 million more cars than the Californian! "It's a bubble," warns Detroit-based automotive consultant Bertrand Rakoto. “Tesla is heavily in debt, and you have to be careful when looking back at the dot-com or Enron crash: OEMs don't trust him financially and ask him to pay all parts upfront.”
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His snub to "shorters"
For a long time, the manufacturer has been the target of short sellers, or "shorters", of investors who bet on a stock's failure. By June, when the price crossed $ 1,000, some of them had lost millions. And Musk has paid their heads off, listing red shorts on his site for $ 69,420. In 2018, when the price was at $ 420 and he was beset by these market vultures, Musk had raised the idea of taking Tesla off the market.
Without mercy on its employees
Elon, as its 50,000 employees call it, logs early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends. He divides his week between SpaceX, in Los Angeles, and Tesla, in Palo Alto, 570 kilometers to the north. And he expects a Stakhanovism similar to his from his troops. "To those who want to see their family, I will say that they will have it all the time if we go bankrupt," he likes to repeat. One of its former communicators, Ricardo Reyes, paid the price. "He told Elon he couldn't come with him to the Geneva Motor Show because his wife was going to give birth," said a former executive. Elon replied, coldly, that he had just made a big mistake. " When the boss returned, Reyes, "a hypertalent type", took the door. There is also the case of this assistant, who had sacrificed everything for him for twelve years. “One day, she asked him for a raise,” continues our source. He told her, "Take a two week vacation, and I'll see if I really need you." "When she returned, an HR manager showed her the way out.
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His eccentric couple
X Æ A-12 is the unpronounceable name of his last son, born in May. "X, the unknown variable, Æ, which I pronounce" Ai "for love or artificial intelligence, A-12, which is the precursor to SR-17 (our favorite plane), no weapons or defense, just speed. Strong in combat but not violent, ”said Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, the billionaire's companion. Ever since dating this goth-looking singer, Musk seems to be soaring very high. Recently, she even had him record a song, published on the Net. The CEO's modified voice can be heard yelling, in English: "Don't doubt your vibrations!"
Emperor of Nerds
On the Internet, the South African boss is a star among nerds, passionate about computers, visual hijackings they share en masse (memes) and role-playing games. And for good reason, he is one of them. When this brilliant engineer graduated from college in the mid-1990s, he once thought about getting into video games. When he was 12, he had developed one, the Blastar space shooter, on a period computer, the Commodore VIC-20 (1). Then he sought to start, with his brother Kimbal and his cousins, an arcade in Pretoria, reports his biographer Ashlee Vance. Alas, his father, Errol, had refused to vouch and the project fell through – Musk was a minor. Lately, this former coder, and even hacker in his spare time, was still playing Overwatch (Blizzard Entertainment) and Minecraft (Microsoft).
Among his other hobbies, there are also cards from the Dungeons and Dragons universe, math equations, and even science fiction novels. His favorites: The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Intergalactic Traveler's Guide, by Douglas Adams, and the saga Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. Recently, he has also taken to watching manga on Netflix with his family. Whose dismal Death Note, and Evangelion, a story of robots, obviously.
The Christmas where he almost lost everything
At the end of 2008, the two companies in which the father of the Model S had invested almost all his fortune were playing their lives. SpaceX, having missed three out of four rocket launches, could no longer pay salaries. Tesla, who had missed the start of his roadster, was short of cash, and his shareholders did not want to put the pot back. Musk then made a secret deal with Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, for the search engine to buy the manufacturer. But on December 23, NASA offered SpaceX a $ 1.6 billion contract. Then Tesla borrowed from SpaceX. Musk the Libertarian was saved by the American state.
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His Hollywood side
Send Tom Cruise to orbit? Easy! The SpaceX boss offered the actor Impossible mission to take it off in one of its Dragon capsules for a movie. Estimated budget: $ 200 million. Musk, who lives in Los Angeles, is familiar to the stars. He was in a relationship with British actress Talulah Riley, then with American Amber Heard, ex-girlfriend of Johnny Depp. Publicly attacked by the latter, the entrepreneur jokingly suggested that he "fight in a cage".
"Be fascinating", "be prepared for the unexpected", "say yes to opportunities" … Here is the kind of advice that Maye Musk, Elon’s mother, gives to her readers in her book A Woman Makes a Plan, literally: "A woman must prepare" (edited by Random House, untranslated). The 72-year-old Canadian, still a model, raised her three children in the culture of winning. And the hard way. Musk does the same, for example banning soft toys for his children after the age of 7.
Grandson of explorers
The maternal grandparents of the new Howard Hugues were incredible adventurers. In 1952, Winnifred and Joshua Hadelman flew 35,000 kilometers between South Africa and Norway. Two years later, they made a 48,000 kilometer round trip to Australia – a record for the time. On a single-engine propeller, and without a compass! Sadly, Joshua was lost in 1972 in a plane crash.
Crazy as Trump on Twitter
The hyperactive, "hyperobsessional" told him, is connected almost 24 hours a day to Twitter, his social network of hearts, where he has nearly 38 million subscribers. And, like President Donald Trump, he's unfiltered. Lately he wrote in it, very seriously, that the pyramids of Egypt were built by aliens. The Egyptian government offered him a guided tour. He also announced his support for rapper Kanye West in the race for the White House, and confided his doubts about the dangerousness of Covid-19, tweeting "FREE AMERICA NOW" ("Free America now"), in full confinement. “His tweets frighten some institutional investors,” observes Philippe Houchois, analyst at Jefferies. They also sometimes annoy internally. “We discovered important announcements on Twitter, reports a former Tesla executive. And Elon hardly ever replied to even the most important business emails while he was online. "
It took him like that. Recently, the ninth richest man in the world announced that he wanted to part with “almost all of his physical possessions”. Starting with its four splendid villas in Bel Air (an ultra-chic district of Los Angeles). His main residence, his friend's house, the one that serves as a private school for his children, and a last abandoned and overgrown with weeds. According to Bloomberg, he would have toped with promoter Ardie Tavangarian for $ 62.5 million.
His bogus promises
Let's be fair, Musk often does what he says he does. Designing reusable space capsules, for example. But it also happens to oversell its projects, even to lie. “He announced that his cars were almost at level 5 for autonomous driving,” recalls expert Bertrand Rakoto. However, they are only at level 2 on the official scale, like those of other manufacturers. " This statement earned him a ban on advertising in Germany. In 2015, Musk also said that Tesla batteries could be changed in fifteen minutes at his network of stations. Alas, the prototype was bogus and the promise flew away. As for the Hyperloop, its train to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco via capsules launched under vacuum at 1,000 kilometers an hour? "A hit," says Alstom’s director of innovation, Stéphane Feray Beaumont. This is infeasible in a seismic area like California. "
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Zip2, his first nice move
Imagine a site that merges Google Maps and Yelp. Musk had this idea in 1995. In 1999, the sale to Compaq of this start-up, Zip2, at the height of the dot-com bubble for 305 million dollars, brought him 22 million at just 28 years old. That same year, he co-founded X.com, an online bank later merged with PayPal, then sold to eBay in 2002. Gain for him: $ 180 million. He was only 31 years old and decided to reinvest almost all of this jackpot in SpaceX and then in Tesla. Dared!
"I would like to die on Mars," the craziest tycoon told his biographer, Ashlee Vance. "Preferably not by crushing me. Ideally, I would like to go and visit, come back for a while, then go back when I'm in my 70s, and stay there. If all goes well, it will be. ” He has been preparing for it for years. It was even the founding idea of SpaceX, its private rocket launcher. According to him, men must prepare a "plan B", in case the Earth becomes uninhabitable.
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