From Paypal to Twitter via Tesla and SpaceX, the itinerary of Elon Musk, a gifted tech

This South African, who has become an American and a Canadian is often compared to Steve Jobs, he is above all a free electron of tech, doing what he wants and how he wants with the sole final objective: to create a colony on Mars.

Soon-to-be owner of Twitter, Elon Musk will add an unlikely string to his bow, which already has many, from electric cars to rockets to tunnel boring machines. Born in South Africa, American and Canadian citizen, leader of SpaceX and Tesla, the richest man in the world has become a central figure of American neo-capitalism with his extra-planetary ambitions and his political ideals, which he shares with his 83 million Twitter followers.

This platform that he knows well and that he has criticized a lot for the moderation of its content – too harsh in his opinion – will become the creature of this libertarian who has rejected the dominant values ​​of Silicon Valley.

save humanity

The group’s board of directors announced on Monday that it had reached an agreement with the adopted Texan on an amicable takeover, which values ​​Twitter at $44 billion. Two weeks ago, Elon Musk surprised the internet by announcing that he held 9.2% of the capital, before expressing his intention to buy the blue bird.

At 50, the serial entrepreneur is at the head of Tesla, the world’s first manufacturer of electric vehicles, and SpaceX, his space company which is to help NASA send astronauts to the Moon by 2025. His fortune is estimated by Forbes at around $270 billion – the equivalent of Finland’s GDP.

He amassed it mainly thanks to Tesla and uses it to finance his various personal adventures such as Neuralink, a start-up which aims to directly link the human brain to the computer, and The Boring Company, which intends to revolutionize transport. urban with tunnels.

Whatever the sector, he puts forward his desire to save humanity, the environment or democracy. Interviewed on his reasons for acquiring Twitter, he spoke of a “risk for civilization” if users lost confidence in the platform.

“X Æ A-12”

Megalomaniac, workaholic, Elon Musk gives, over the tweets, a glimpse of his personality, concerned about his image as a rebellious boss, lover of verbal jousts and provocations, anti-politically correct.

The symbol of this elusive line, which appeals more and more to certain Republicans, will have been the move of Tesla from California to Texas, to express its fed up with the policy of Governor Gavin Newsom, judged unfavorable to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“His libertarian style has a bit of the radical right (alt-right) in it,” said Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates. “So there are a lot of people he doesn’t hang out with.”

On Twitter, he recently challenged Vladimir Putin to a duel or compared Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler. In 2018, he smoked cannabis during a filmed interview, while evoking the conquest of space, the end of the world and the libido of bonobo monkeys. In May 2021, he revealed he had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Divorced three times, Mr. Musk is the father of eight children, one of whom died at 10 weeks. His last born, whom he had with the singer Grimes, is called Exa Dark Sideræl Musk. It is the little sister of “X Æ A-12”.

The Tesla Cult

The man splits between an army of fans who adore him and ensure his publicity and those who hate him. But it’s hard to deny Tesla’s success. Long in deficit, the company is now an immense industrial and financial success, with a record profit of 5.5 billion dollars in 2021 and an immense stock market valuation.

“I think I know more about industrial production than anyone in the world,” boasted Elon Musk recently. It was not won. From 2017 to 2019, the company was “constantly on the verge of bankruptcy”, he explained.

“Nothing was going well for the production of the Model 3. (…) I lived in the factory in Fremont (California), I slept on the floor so that the team could see that I was not in my tower. ivory,” he said. Several complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination have been filed against the management of this factory, accused of “racial segregation” by California.

“Space Civilization”

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 28, 1971 to an engineer father and a Canadian model, Elon Musk studied in Canada and then in the United States. At 24, he created, with his brother Kimbal, Zip2, an online software publisher. He became a millionaire before his 30th birthday by selling it to the computer manufacturer Compaq in 1999 for more than 300 million dollars.

The young entrepreneur then founded X.com, which was merged with PayPal, then bought by eBay in 2002 for 1.5 billion. With SpaceX, founded in stride, he chained the successes, the company became the linchpin of the new ambitions of NASA.

“The overall goal is to allow life to develop on several planets and to make humanity a space civilization,” said Mr. Musk in an interview with Time Magazine, which named him at the end of 2021 personality of the year.

Elon Musk is almost a fictional character. He inspired the cinematic character of Iron Man as much as he is inspired by it. He even played himself in the second opus, in 2008, in a scene where he offers Tony Stark to study “an electric jet”. Moreover, the premises of Space X served as a filming location for several scenes of the film.

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