Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. His father, Errol Musk, is a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, and sailor. His mother, Maye Musk (née Haldeman), is a Canadian-born model and dietitian. He has a younger brother, Kimbal, and a younger sister, Tosca.
Musk’s paternal grandfather was British, and he also has Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry through his maternal grandmother. After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in the suburbs of Pretoria.
Musk attended the English-speaking Pretoria Boys High School. In 1984 at age 12 he developed an interest in computing with the Commodore VIC-20. He taught himself computer programming and by the age of 10 he had sold his first software game, Blastar, to a magazine called PC and Office Technology for $500.
In 1989 Musk moved to Canada aged 17 to attend Queen’s University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received dual 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 web software company Zip2 with his brother Kimbal. The start-up 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 subsequently 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 also proposed the Hyperloop, a high-speed vactrain transportation system.
As of April 2021, Musk’s net worth was estimated to be $183 billion, making him the richest person in the world. He is also the founder of SpaceX, co-founder of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity. He has an estimated net worth of $12.7 billion as of March 2018. In May 2016, he was ranked 21st on Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. As of December 2016, he was listed by Bloomberg as the 53rd most influential person in the world. In February 2017, Musk was listed as the most powerful CEO in America byfortune magazine. In June 2017, he was ranked first on Vanity Fair’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In October 2020, he was named “Person of the Year” by Axios.
Musk has received several accolades for his work in technology and innovation. He has been nominated for Time magazine’s Person of the Year award three times: in 2015, 2016, and 2018. He won Elon Musk: The Gold Award in Innovation at the annual Global Change Awards in 2018. He was also honored with Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit in 2019. In December 2020, he was awarded the Joe Davis WorldQuest National Geographic Society Award. And in February 2021, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.
Musk has also been a vocal advocate for the development of sustainable energy and technology. He has said that the world needs to “transition to sustainable energy” and that he is “committed to doing my part.” He has also said that Tesla’s goal is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” In 2015, Musk announced that Tesla would be partnering with SolarCity to create solar roofs that would look like regular roofs but generate electricity.
In 2016, Musk unveiled Tesla’s plans for the Powerwall, a home battery system that stores energy from solar panels or the grid and can provide backup power in case of an outage. In 2017, Musk announced that Tesla was working on an electric semi-truck, which was unveiled in November of that year. In 2018, Musk announced that Tesla would be offering a new line of solar roofs that would look like regular roofs but generate electricity.
In 2020, Elon Musk was named “Person of the Year” by Axios. He was also inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and awarded the Joe Davis WorldQuest National Geographic Society Award.