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Things You Didn't Know About Elon Musk

Updated January 31, 2020 333.9k views17 items

Elon Musk is an engineer, inventor, CEO, investor, and billionaire. But there's more to Musk than meets the eye, and to truly understand this self-made South African native, it's necessary to learn a few fun facts. Musk is a dreamer with a vision; he co-founded PayPal and Tesla. But his ultimate goal is space exploration, and he believes he can help colonize Mars. Sound like science fiction? Check out these things you might not have known about Musk, and perhaps his past achievements will give insight into his visions for the future.

Musk was born in South Africa, but moved to Canada on his own while still a teenager. He worked odd jobs before landing at Queen’s University in Ontario. By the age of 28, he was a multimillionaire. As of 2019, Musk had a net worth of $20.6 billion, according to Forbes.

But the real-life inspiration for Tony Stark is in the game for more than just money and power. His pro-environmental ambition is to create an accessible electric car so that society is no longer oil dependent. Musk's biography paints a picture of a person with unbelievable drive and perhaps the intelligence to colonize the Red Planet in this lifetime.

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  • He Wants To Colonize Mars By The Year 2040

    In 2018, Musk launched the maiden voyage of his Falcon Heavy rocket. It is just one early step in the process of achieving his not-so-simple goal of colonizing Mars. He has a project in the works called "The Interplanetary Transport System" that he hopes will become the most powerful rocket ever built. Musk wants his "BFR" (Big F*cking Rocket) to have the ability to carry passengers into space.

    Musk expects his liquid methane-fueled rocket to take a six-month flight to Mars with 100 people onboard. Once there, they would find ways to survive on the planet, perhaps by living inside lava tubes from extinct volcanoes. To accomplish this goal, the colonizers would have to determine how to produce enough fuel made from liquid methane for the spacecraft's return voyage to Earth.

  • Musk Is Inspired By Kayne West And Fred Astaire

    Photo: David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

    One might think a scientist, entrepreneur, and businessman like Musk would look to such figures as Albert Einstein or Bill Gates for inspiration. But when asked who inspired him, Musk mentioned two unusual names. "Well, Kanye West obviously," he revealed. Musk also added Hollywood legend Fred Astaire to his list. "I do love Fred Astaire, he's amazing. If you haven't watched his movies, they're amazing."

    In 2015, Musk wrote an article lauding West for being included on Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" list:  

    Kanye's belief in himself and his incredible tenacity - he performed his first single with his jaw wired shut - got him to where he is today. And he fought for his place in the cultural pantheon with a purpose. Now that he's a pop culture juggernaut, he has the platform to achieve just that. He's not afraid of being judged or ridiculed in the process. Kanye's been playing the long game all along, and we're only just beginning to see why.

  • Zip2 Made Musk A Multimillionaire At The Age Of 28

    Musk headed to Stanford University in the mid-1990s to pursue a Ph.D. in energy physics. However, the Internet boom in Northern California was beginning, and Musk wanted to be a part of it. In 1995, at 24 years old, he dropped out of Stanford after only two days to start his first company, Zip2 Corporation. It was a software company that served as an online city guide for the publishing industry.

    Musk put all his energy into Zip2. However, he eventually had to give up majority control of the company to get much-needed financing from a group of venture capitalists. In 1999, Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million. Musk earned $22 million for his 7% share in the company, making him a multimillionaire by the age of 28.

  • Musk Co-Founded PayPal

    Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    In 1999, Musk took $10 million from the money he earned selling Zip2 to start another company called X.com, an online bank. The company's goal was to provide a way for users to safely transfer money on the internet using a person's email address. Just one year later, X.com purchased a company called Confinity, which started PayPal.

    In time, largely thanks to eBay, PayPal became a publicly traded company. When eBay eventually bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk, who was PayPal's largest shareholder at 11.5%, earned $165 million in eBay stock.