Elon Musk founded PayPal. And Tesla Motors. And SpaceX. And a bunch of other companies.

He is a brilliant engineer and entrepreneur. When he was 10, he bought a computer, and by age 12 programmed a game and sold it for 500 USD. Later (in 1995), he went to Stanford for his second degree, which is what someone like him would do.

Except, he dropped out after 2 days to start a company called Zip2, which he sold to AltaVista for ~ $341 million in cash and stock, in 1999. He got $22 million off the deal. At this point, anybody would stop and start swimming in cash. But his biggest three ventures were yet to come.

He then founded X.com, which after a merger became PayPal.com, the world’s first online payment system. PayPal was sold to E-Bay for 1.5 billion $ in 2002. He made $170 million from this. Peter Theil, another co-founder decided to fund other startups in the silicon valley. But Elon Musk? He had to be inventing.

What would you do if you had sold one of the world’s largest Internet companies and made millions of dollars. Or more precisely, what would Iron Man do? Well, he would start a new company that makes rockets. Which is exactly what he did. And being the hardcore entrepreneur that he is, he went all in and bet all of his money on his ideas. Because they were worth pursuing. SpaceX, the company he founded in 2002, got a contract from NASA 6 years later for 1.6 billion $. This is why he thinks space technology is important –

An asteroid or a super volcano could destroy us, and we face risks the dinosaurs never saw: An engineered virus, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, catastrophic global warming or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us. Humankind evolved over millions of years, but in the last sixty years atomic weaponry created the potential to extinguish ourselves. Sooner or later, we must expand life beyond this green and blue ball—or go extinct.

He aims to bring down the cost of space flights by a factor of 100. And then retire on Mars.

SpaceX recently launched Dragon, which is the first private spaceflight to go to International Space Station.

He also founded Tesla Motors, where he is the head of product design. Tesla is an electric car company, which recently announced that their car Model S X 3 will be available soon.The company has moved to it’s

Update: The company has moved to its second phase of it’s three phase program to bring electric cars to the general public. Model S and X cost around $100K and they helped subsidize the cost of the upcoming Model 3, which is expected to cost around $35K. The next phase of cars will be even cheaper.

He also founded SolarCity on the side, which happens to be the largest provider of solar-powered systems in the US.

He founded Tesla and Solar City to help save the environment. Tesla is a publicly traded company and he plans to take SpaceX and SolarCity public, soon. He is currently worth ~ $2 $13 billion.

And if this is not enough to prove that he is the real life Tony Stark, then there’s more. The proof being that the Tony Stark most people know, the movie character in the Iron Man and Avengers, played by Robert Downey Jr., is based on Elon Musk himself.

The director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. were developing the character, when RDJ suggested that they meet Elon Musk, as he was the closest to what came to the comic book millionaire-inventor. Favreau said –

Elon Musk makes no sense — and that’s the reason I know him. When I was trying to bring the character of genius billionaire Tony Stark to the big screen in Iron Man, I had no idea how to make him seem real. Robert Downey Jr. said, ‘We need to sit down with Elon Musk.

After meeting him, RDJ and Favreau decided to borrow some of Elon Musk’ characteristics into the portrayal of Tony Stark on screen.

This basically proves that Elon Musk is, in fact, the Tony Stark of real life. If only he had a suit, he could be Iron Man too!

Fun Fact – Elon actually has a cameo in the Iron Man 2 movie. Watch here –


Tony refers to the Merlin engines that SpaceX actually made, saying they are fantastic. That Elon goes on to say that he has an idea for an electric jet engine. Refer below for the electric jet that might actually happen. No electric rockets for now, though.

Update: This article was originally written in 2012, and since then Musk has done even more Iron Man things, like 3-D printing rocket parts.

Have a look at Musk’s version of Stark’s lab.

He has also recently inspired the development of a new mode of transportation, termed the Hyperloop, where “pods” will be pushed at hypersonic speeds through vacuum tubes.

And when he was asked at a recent Hyperloop competition what his next biggest idea was, he said “electric jets”.

You can follow Elon Musk on twitter.


Last update 5th Feb 2016.

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