Elon Reeve Musk FRS (/ˈiːlɒn/ EE-lon; born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate, industrial designer, and engineer. He is the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX; early stage investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. A centibillionaire, Musk is one of the richest people in the world.
Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada aged 17 to attend Queen's University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received bachelor's degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to attend Stanford University but decided instead to pursue a business career, co-founding the web software company Zip2 with brother Kimbal. The startup was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. Musk co-founded online bank X.com that same year, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to form the company PayPal and was bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
In 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO, CTO, and lead designer. In 2004, he joined electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.) as chairman and product architect, becoming its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company and current Tesla subsidiary. In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that promotes friendly artificial intelligence. In 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces, and founded The Boring Company, a tunnel construction company. Musk has proposed the Hyperloop, a high-speed vactrain transportation system.
Musk has been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox or unscientific stances and highly publicized controversies. In 2018, he was sued for defamation by a diver who advised in the Tham Luang cave rescue; a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. In the same year, he was sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for falsely tweeting that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla. He settled with the SEC, temporarily stepping down from his chairmanship and accepting limitations on his Twitter usage. Musk has spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and has received criticism from experts for his other views on such matters as artificial intelligence and public transport.
Childhood and family
Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. His mother is Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian born in Saskatchewan, Canada, but raised in South Africa. His father is Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, sailor, consultant, and property developer. Musk has a younger brother, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974). His maternal grandfather, Joshua Haldeman, was an American-born Canadian. His paternal grandmother had British and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.
After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in Pretoria and elsewhere, a choice he made two years after the divorce and subsequently regretted. Musk has become estranged from his father, whom he has described as "a terrible human being... Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done." He has a half-sister and a half-brother on his father's side.
At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing while using the Commodore VIC-20. He learned computer programming using a manual and, by age 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500. An awkward and introverted child, Musk was bullied throughout his childhood and was once hospitalized after a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs. He attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School.
An ornate school building
Musk graduated from Pretoria Boys High School in South Africa.
Aware it would be easier to enter the United States from Canada, Musk applied for a Canadian passport through his Canadian-born mother. While awaiting the documentation, he attended the University of Pretoria for five months; this allowed Musk to avoid mandatory service in the South African military. Arriving in Canada in June 1989, Musk failed to locate his great-uncle in Montreal and instead stayed at a youth hostel. He then traveled west to live with a second-cousin in Saskatchewan. He stayed there for a year, working odd jobs at a farm and lumber-mill. In 1990, Musk entered Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Two years later, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania; he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in economics from the Wharton School and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in physics.
In 1994, Musk held two internships in Silicon Valley during the summer: at an energy storage startup called Pinnacle Research Institute, which researched electrolytic ultracapacitors for energy storage, and at the Palo Alto-based startup Rocket Science Games. In 1995, Musk was accepted to a Ph.D. program in energy physics/materials science at Stanford University in California. Musk attempted to get a job at Netscape but never received a response to his inquiries. He dropped out of Stanford after two days, deciding instead to join the Internet boom and launch an Internet startup.
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