How Elon Musk Became The Startup King

Posted on September 5th, 2014

Elon Musk

Every startup he touches turns to gold, and makes him billions of dollars. There is little doubt that Elon Musk is one of the most prolific serial entrepreneurs of the past decade, injecting his money and resources into one startup, then using the profits to leap right into the next.

With all his inventions, it’s rumoured that Musk  is the inspiration behind the character of comic superhero/engineer Tony Stark of the Iron Man franchise.

The South African-born, Canada American Musk has repeatedly shown that he prefers spending his money on turning his passion projects into companies that change the world to a life of leisure.

“I could either watch it happen or be part of it”

Here are the many startups that made Musk a rock star of the startup world:

1983:  A businessman in the making

At just aged 12, Musk who taught himself to code, sells the computer code for his first video game for $500. He would go on to make an career out of buying and selling businesses.

1999: The first of many millions 

This is the year that Musk made his first millions following Compaq Computers’ acquisition of Zip2, a company that Musk founded together with his brother. Zip2 provided maps and directories to online publications. The deal earned the pair $22 million.

2000: Paypal – The big break

A year after selling Zip2, Musk’s second startup, an online financial services and e-mail payment company that he co-founded in 1999, acquired what came to be known as PayPal. Just two years later, he sells PayPal – of which he had an 11.7% stake – to eBay for $1.5 billion.

2002: The birth of SpaceX

Wasting no time, in 2002 following the sale of PayPal, Musk founded one of the two companies that he would become well-known for: SpaceX – a California-based company that develops and manufactures space launch vehicles. The company also  focuses on advancing the state of rocket technology.

“I like to be involved in things that change the world”

2004: Tesla is founded; Roadster wins Invention of the Year

Two years after that Musk  co-founded Tesla Motors – electric car manufacturers. In 2006 Tesla went mainstream, with its Roadster winning Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year award in the Transportation category.

2008: The space age

Musk assumed the role of CEO and product architect for Tesla. That year the Tesla Roadster’s sales would reach 2,500 vehicles in 31 countries. SpaceX was also awarded a $1.6 billion contract to make flights to the International Space Station for NASA.

Musk now looks to take on even bigger challenges. According to recent reports including a Wired Magazine interview, Musk says he is now looking to create a colony on Mars of 80,000 people. Flight ticket prices are rumoured to be $500,000.