Elon Musk revolutionized the auto industry, sent his own rocket into space and built the world’s greatest fortune. And now the CEO of Tesla is ‘Chief Twit’.
By Agence France-Presse: Elon Musk is by turns ingenious, impulsive and infuriating. He’s also an entrepreneurial maverick, unafraid to take on a myriad of industries on his own terms.
After revolutionizing the auto industry, sending his own rocket into space – with his car on board – and building the world’s biggest fortune, the eccentric billionaire is the new king of social media after taking over Twitter on Thursday and fired his chief executives.
This will give him control of the web over which the world debates, mobilizes, bickers and throws shade, Musk often being the first of them.
The deal will also fuel the fire on his political views, business methods, overblown personality and unconventional personal life – flames he does nothing to extinguish.
He is libertarian, anti-revival and presents himself as a champion of freedom of expression. He has been accused of being autocratic and of bullying.
“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it’s important for the future of civilization to have a common digital public square” for healthy debate, Musk said earlier Thursday, while insisting that that it could not become a “hellscape free for all”.
His takeover of the social media juggernaut caps months of a rollercoaster ride of announcements, counter-advertisements and legal maneuverings — which he’s typically punctuated by firing jabs at the company on its own platform.
It is Musk’s latest corporate conquest, after online publishing and payments, space travel and electric cars.
The 51-year-old is the world’s richest person, a title he took last year from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos following the meteoric rise of Tesla, his electric carmaker founded in 2003.
– Newsmaker, for better and for worse –
Musk’s companies are making headlines for the right reasons: His space transportation company SpaceX is a three-way partner that sent the first fully private mission to the International Space Station.
But his empire is also making news of a less flattering kind: Tesla has faced a series of lawsuits alleging discrimination against black workers as well as sexual harassment.
Along with the whiplash-inducing stream of economic news, Musk’s unconventional private life is also raising eyebrows around the world.
Musk had two children with his recurring partner, musician Grimes: a son, X AE A-XII, known as X, and a daughter they named Exa Dark SidederÃ¦l Musk – although the parents are mainly call her Y.
He also fathered twins with a senior executive from Neuralink, a company he co-founded.
Somehow, Musk became one of the most ubiquitous figures of the era. So how did he get to where he is today?
– To Mars… and beyond? –
Born in Pretoria on June 28, 1971, the son of an engineer father and a Canadian-born model mother, Musk left South Africa in his late teens to attend Queen’s University in Ontario.
He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania after two years and earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and business.
After graduating from the Ivy League school, Musk dropped plans to study at Stanford University in California.
Instead, he gave up and started Zip2, a company that made online publishing software for the media industry.
He made his first millions before the age of 30 when he sold Zip2 to American computer maker Compaq for over $300 million in 1999.
Musk’s next company, X.com, eventually merged with PayPal, the online payments company acquired by internet auction giant eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
After leaving PayPal, Musk embarked on a series of ever more ambitious ventures.
He founded SpaceX in 2002 – which today serves as its chief executive and chief technology officer – and became chairman of electric car maker Tesla in 2004.
After a few early mishaps and near-misses, SpaceX perfected the art of landing booster engines on solid land and ocean platforms, making them reusable, and late last year it sent four tourists in space, on the very first orbital mission without professional astronauts on board.
Musk’s boring The Boring Company touts a super-fast “Hyperloop” rail transit system that would transport people at near supersonic speeds.
And he said he wanted to make humans an “interplanetary species” by establishing a colony of people living on Mars.
To that end, SpaceX is developing a prototype rocket, Starship, which it plans to ferry crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond – with Musk saying he is confident of an orbital test this year, possibly November.
Musk, who holds US, Canadian and South African citizenship, has been married and divorced three times – once to Canadian author Justine Wilson and twice to actress Talulah Riley. He has nine children. A tenth child died in infancy.
Forbes estimates his current net worth at $222 billion.