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Elon Musk is an entrepreneur known for co-founding Tesla Motors, X.com—which later became PayPal—and SpaceX, the last of which launched a landmark commercial spacecraft on May 22, 2012.
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Elon Musk was born in South Africa and became a multimillionaire in his late twenties when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers. He went on to more early success launching PayPal via a 2000 merger, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in 2002, and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk made headlines in May 2012 when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station.
"I'm very pro-environment, but let's figure out how to do it better and not jump through a dozen hoops to achieve what is obvious in the first place."
Elon Musk was born and grew up in South Africa, buying his first computer at age 10. He taught himself how to program, and when he was 12 he made his first software sale—of a game he created called Blaster. At age 17, in 1989, he moved to Canada to attend Queen’s College, but he left in 1992 to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed for a second bachelor’s degree in physics.
After leaving Penn, Elon Musk headed to Stanford University in California to pursue a PhD in energy physics. However, his move was timed perfectly with the Internet boom, and he dropped out of Stanford after just two days to become a part of it, launching his first company, Zip2 Corporation.
An online city guide, Zip2 was soon providing content for the new Web sites of both the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, and in 1999, a division of Compaq Computer bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options.
Also in 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services/payments company. An X.com acquisition the following year led to the creation of PayPal as it is known today, and in October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock. Before the sale, Musk owned 11 percent of PayPal stock.
Never one to rest on his laurels, Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002 with the intention of building spacecraft for commercial space travel. By 2008, SpaceX was well-established, and NASA awarded the company the contract to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station—with plans for astronaut transport in the future—in a move to replace NASA’s own space shuttle missions.
Another Musk venture is Tesla Motors, an automobile company dedicated to producing affordable, mass-market electric cars, which he co-founded in 2003. With a stake in the company taken by Daimler and a strategic partnership with Toyota, Tesla Motors launched its initial public offering in June 2010, raising $226 million.
The boundless potential of space exploration and the preservation of the future of the human race have become the cornerstones of Muck’s abiding interests, and toward these he has founded the Musk Foundation, which is dedicated to space exploration and the discovery of renewable and clean energy sources.
On May 22, 2012, Musk and SpaceX made history when the company launched its Falcon 9 rocket into space with an unmanned capsule. The vehicle was sent to the International Space Station with 1,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts stationed there, and it is the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station. Of the launch, Musk was quoted as saying, "I feel very lucky. . . . For us, it's like winning the Super Bowl."
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