Elon Reeve Musk is a South African-born Canadian American business magnate, investor and engineer. He is the founder, CEO and lead designer of SpaceX,Tesla, Inc. and Neuralink. In December 2016, he was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. As of February 2018, he has a net worth of $20.8 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 53rd richest person in the world.
Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. He has a younger brother and a sister. After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father.
During his childhood he was an avid reader. At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing with the Commodore VIC-20 and taught himself computer programming at the age of 12 and sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar, to a magazine for approximately $500.
At the age of 17, Musk was accepted into Queen’s University for undergraduate studies. After spending two years there, Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and in economics from Wharton School of Business.
In 1995, at age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in applied physics and materials science at Stanford University, but left the program after two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations.
He subsequently co-founded Zip2, a web software company and post this went on to start X.com, an online payment company. It later became PayPal.
The same year, he founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company. It is both the largest private producer of rocket engines in the world and holder of the record for highest thrust-to-weight ratio for a rocket engine (Merlin 1D).
Later, he co-founded Tesla Inc., an electric vehicle and solar panel manufacturer in 2003. In 2006 he inspired the creation of SolarCity, a solar energy services company. In 2015 Musk co-founded OpenAI, a non-profit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In this streak, he went on to co-found Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces.
Musk has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop and has proposed vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet electric aircrafts with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jets. His goals include ‘reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption and reducing the risk of human extinction by establishing a human colony on Mars.’ In a 2011 interview, he said he hopes to send humans to Mars’ surface within 10–20 years and establish human colony by 2040, with a population of 80,000.
As of 2014, Musk’s annual salary is one dollar; the remainder of his compensation is in the form of stock and performance-based bonuses.
Musk and his first wife, Canadian author Justine Wilson, have five sons with each other. They married in 2000 but later separated in 2008.
He married once again after that, but that too ended in a divorce.