Elon Musk has become a household name in recent years. The billionaire entrepreneur is in the news regularly, thanks to the success of his companies Tesla and SpaceX. He recently made headlines once again by announcing that SpaceX was constructing a “tiny, kid-size submarine” to aid the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team trapped in a cave. Read on for seven startling facts about Elon Musk that might surprise you.
Musk was born and raised in South Africa. Dissatisfied with life in his home country, he immigrated on his own to Canada at the young age of 17. Staying in the homes of extended family members, he often survived on a dollar a day and a stockpile of hot dogs and oranges.
2. School Dropout
Musk spent just two days in a PhD program at Stanford University before dropping out to jump on board the dot com boom in 1995. Four years later, he received USD22 million for his share in the sale of Zip2, the web software company he developed. He became a millionaire aged only 28.
3. Founding SpaceX Was the Cheap Option
In 2001 he started the “Mars Oasis” project. Its goal was to land a miniature greenhouse on Mars which would grow crops using treated Martian soil. He visited Russia to procure refurbished intercontinental ballistic missiles for the task. After being quoted USD8 million for one rocket, he stormed out of a meeting. He decided to start a company that could make the rockets he needed at a fraction of the price. SpaceX was born.
4. Went Broke
In 2008, two of his major ventures, Tesla and SpaceX, were both struggling. Tesla was losing money and SpaceX could not get their Falcon 1 rocket off the ground. Describing it as “the worst year of my life”, Musk was living off of personal loans by the following year.
5. Consultant for Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man
Jon Favreau, director of the first two Iron Man movies, explained that while Tony Stark is based on the comic book, Robert Downey Jr. told him, “There’s somebody we should sit down and talk with.” Downey added, “This is a guy who can give us some insight into what it’d really be like to be Tony Stark.” In fact, Musk has a brief cameo in Iron Man 2 where he meets Tony Stark and talks about collaborating on a project.
6. Comic Book Fan
Following on from the previous fact, Musk is a huge comic book fan. So much so that he allowed Iron Man 2 to be filmed at SpaceX free of charge. Supposedly, he is particularly fond of Marvel’s X-Men, naming robots at the Tesla factory after X-Men characters. He even went as far as naming one of his sons Xavier, after the X-Men’s mentor Professor Charles Xavier.
7. Lonely Soul
With all his accomplishments it is easy to forget that he is still an ordinary person. In a startlingly candid interview with Rolling Stone magazine Musk said, “If I’m not in love, if I’m not with a long-term companion, I cannot be happy.” He went on to say, “I will never be happy without having someone. Going to sleep alone kills me.” Musk even went as far as asking the interviewer if he could introduce him to someone. Poor guy.