Elon Musk- Is he the Modern Gen Nikola Tesla?

On hearing the name of Elon Musk, all that comes to mind in a first thought is a guy with loaded genius and brilliant ideas of changing the world. Well that’s kind of true, isn’t it? Let’s take a peek at this man’s achievements and world-changing ideas and decide for ourselves.

A Sneak-Peek into Early Life

Born in South Africa, Elon was the son of a British engineer father and a Canadian nutritionist mother. In an interview his mother had told the reporter that being a curious kid, often Elon would often zone out by gazing into distance thinking of his own world which at a point even led his parents to believe that he might be deaf. Being an avid fan of computers since his preteens he had a written a game of his own and received an amount of $500 after the source code was published in a South African journal. This game was later developed and revised by a Google software engineer who made it playable after 33 years. An entrepreneur minded that he is, Elon has paid for his college by conducting party at his house and would charge a cover fee that would help him pay the rent as well cover out his college fees.

The Payoff by PayPal

After enrolling himself in the Stanford University for Applied Physics and Material Science program, Musk started a joint venture company with his brother in 1995 named ‘Zip2’ and he dropped out of the program just days after starting the company.

Zip2 was an IT company that provided and licensed online city guide software to newspapers. The IT company was sold to AltaVista (a well-known search engine of that time just as Google in present times) for $307 and another cash acquisition of $34 million in its stocks and securities making it one of the biggest acquisitions of that time.

The success of this venture made Musk set out for another venture where in March 1999 he co-founded an online financial service company named X.com(currently known as PayPal) with Peter Thiel who was developing the rival of X.com ‘Confinity’. PayPal is the faster, safer way to send money, make an online payment, receive money or set up a merchant account for online transactions. Later being a which was sold to eBay for a scorching huge amount of $1.5 billion with Musk owning his personal share of a blooming $180 million.

Riding with the Tesla

With the soaring profits of share from the PayPal, Musk invested $70 million of his personal funds in Tesla Motors, a company that was co-founded by two Silicon Valley engineers Marc Tappening and Martin Eberhard. After the investment, Musk became the major shareholder of Tesla Motors. In the year 2006, Tesla received Global Green Product Design of the Year which earned the company an investment of $100 million from the founders of Google.

A miscalculation for the production and supplying strategy affected the Roadster model’s transmission which ended up making it costlier by 100% than what price earlier was presumed to be sold at. This made the company delay the shipping dates of the model by over a year as the production had not even begun until fall of 2008. And thus the downfall of Tesla began.

The company by that time had lost the orders of the production lot, missed the given deadlines, the prices had been staked at almost twice than estimated, mismanaged operations and strategies. At this time Musk stepped in to change the way of working things out and taking the charge. He fired everyone from the company including the co-founders and product operation and development staff. Declaring himself the CEO of the company in that year he added $55 million of his own money and sold his earlier McLaren F1 for $20 million, adding that amount to the saving of Tesla from drowning into bankruptcy.

By the end of 200,  Musk was able to bring Roadster to the market with an increase of just $20,000 in the original price. Currently, Tesla SUV has been awarded as the safest automobile on the road. One of the latest launches of Tesla Model S became the reason for an instant uprising in the status of the company. While Tesla the recent most launch of the company stands out as the hybrid Audi A, BMW 3 and Mercedes C but offering much more range, affordability and performance at the price of just $35000 with a starting model.

As of present times, Musk is the owner of 30% stakes of Tesla Motors making a worth of $13 Billion. The company stands tall with a market cap of as high as $24.77Billion.

Spacing up the Earth with SpaceX

Being a man of his own world, Musk had always dreamt of space travelling and colonizing other habitable planets as well. As he grew older his dream became more intent with a particular pursues after colonization of Mars. He founded a company named “Space Exploration Technologies Corp.”

SpaceX manufactures, designs and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was established in California in the year of 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets.

SpaceX has been credited with many some of them being for first privately funded liquid-propellant rocket to reach outer orbit of the earth in 2008 (Falcon 1), first privately funded company to successfully launch, orbit and recovering a satellite in 2010(Dragon), First propulsive landing for an orbital rocket in 2015(Falcon 9), first reuse of a orbital rocket in 2017(also Falcon 9) and recently but not least the first private funded space company to launch an object into solar orbit this year (Falcon Heavy’s payload of a Tesla Roadster). SpaceX has also been in 13 missions to the International Space Station(ISS) in a partnership with NASA.
In the month of September 2016, Musk had unveiled a mission architecture which consisted of Interplanetary Transport System program that can be used for flights of interplanetary crews. Later in 2017 Musk unveiled an update in the previous existing system and changed its name to the Big Falcon Rocket (BFR) a largest known rocket in the history that will be fully reusable after its debut in the estimated 2020s.

On Nov. 15, 2016, SpaceX filed for permission from the FCC to dispatch 4,425 satellites that would give world-wide internet scope around the globe. Right now. more than 4,000 satellites (dynamic and dormant consolidated) orbit around the Earth.

Looping in the Hyper-Loop with Boring Boring Company:

There are basically four modes of transport that are well known and currently in use as well. Of course, they are boats, planes, trains and automobiles. But our Musky man has come up with an envisioned concept of HyperLoop a mode with a high-speed transit tube working in a vacuum.

According to him, it would be an energy efficient, time-saving, maybe even cheaper than airfare tickets mode of transport. He thinks the mode might even become self-powering with the help of solar panels.

But still, that idea seems a bit farfetched one for the man himself. So, for now, he has come up with a subterranean solution. He came up with the idea of boring tunnels and providing an underground way for passengers for diverting and dividing traffic. He, in fact, has launched a company named “The Boring Company” for fulfilling this idea of his of a new route availability for transport.

Lighting up with the Solar-City

Elon Musk invested $10 million from his 11% share of PayPal on SolarCity Musk bolstered the prowess of his portfolio with the purchase of SolarCity in 2016 and cemented his standing as a leader of an industry by taking on an advisory role in the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration.

SolarCity is the leader in full-service solar power systems for homes, businesses and governments providing custom design, financing, installation & monitoring. SolarCity filed an IPO in 2010 and currently has a market cap of $5.53 Billion.

Is Musk a Modern Generation Nikola Tesla?

Comparing Musk with Tesla might not be a good thing to do as the world advancements have differed from time till now. But as Tesla was considered to be a visionary of his time with world-changing ideas, the same could be said for Musk who has a vision of sustainability, developing and changing the world at the same time. An independent very rich person and a witty trend-setter of the cutting edge times, here’s Elon Musk in the words of Sir Richard Branson:

“Whatever sceptics have said can’t be done, Elon has gone out and made real. Remember in the 1990s, when we would call strangers and give them our credit-card numbers? Elon dreamed up a little thing called PayPal. His Tesla Motors and SolarCity companies are making a clean, renewable-energy future a reality…his SpaceX’s reopening space for exploration…it’s a paradox that Elon is working to improve our planet at the same time he’s building spacecraft to help us leave it.”

Jim Cantrell, a well-known of the pioneer in the Aerospace industry, who had worked with Musk for developing SpaceX had said this about him:

“What I found from working with Elon is that he starts by defining a goal and he puts a lot of effort into understanding what that goal is and why it is a good and valid goal. Once he has a goal, his next step is to learn as much about the topic at hand as possible from as many sources as possible. He borrowed all of my college texts on rocket propulsion when we first started working together in 2001. The one major important distinction that sets him apart is his inability to consider failure.”

Tech billionaire, SpaceX cowboy, Tesla pioneer – and real-life Tony Stark, (yes a heads-up for those who don’t know) character of Tony Stark in Iron-Man movies was inspired by Elon Musk. With his companies working different directions of developing auto industry, space tech and lighting up the earth, it seems that Elon Musk definitely wants to change the world by reinventing it. Elon Musk seems ready to take on the reigns of development, but is the future ready for him? To me, the future seems definitely musky…

Feature image: Ted talk; other images: Google with due credits.

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Karan Magnani
A to be an engineer by profession and writer by passion. Reading, writing are some of my most favourite hobbies.

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