Bare Beginnings and the First Start-Up
Musk may look like the one having it all, but entrepreneurship isn’t how he started off his career. At the dawn of his career, Musk applied for a job at Netscape. Before Google became the boss in all of net searches, Netscape was the one providing tough competition. Due to no computer sciences background, Musk wasn’t hired. He did try to lobby for the position, but was too shy to even speak to someone. He instead decided to start his own company, Zip2 with his brother and that was just the beginning. Musk wanted to be CEO real bad, but the Board of Directors thought otherwise. He ended up being demoted in his own company. When Zip2 was sold, Musk did walk away with a $22M fortune, helping him start-up X.com, his next venture which then went on to become PayPal. He did become CEO this time around, but an argument about changing the platform from UNIX to Windows lead to a fallout. Although he exited PayPal unceremoniously as well, he walked away with such moolah that he was able to start SpaceX. And that venture, as we all know, is what made him the real life Iron Man!
SpaceX – to Infinity and Beyond
Musk started to divulge into the concept of growing plants on Martian soil, with the eventual aim being colonization of the planet. He went in search of rockets to Russia, but ended up being declined and also realized that those rockets were way expensive. With the intent of making affordable rockets, SpaceX came into existence. Sale of PayPal allowed him to invest a lot in this company, but the initial years were very difficult. The first three launches were disasters and by 2008, SpaceX along with Tesla were on the brink of bankruptcy. By his own admission, Musk felt his biggest mistake has been neglecting Tesla in the early years while he was focussing on SpaceX. He received flak for spending millions on the dream of mars colonization, when he could be working on helping out humanity more realistically. This however did not derail Musk, as NASA awarded SpaceX a contract in late 2008 for Falcon9 and Dragon Spacecraft, keeping him for closing up shop. Sheer gut and lot of smart thinking from Musk has now made SpaceX the largest private rocket manufacturers. Musk hopes to reduce human spaceflight cost by a factor of ten and to send mankind to Mars by 2030!!
A Difficult Road for Tesla
Tesla is right now one of the most innovative car making company, but in its infancy, it was nothing short of a hot pile of mess which made really bad cars. And this was all due to some really dumb mistakes and some negligence as well. In 2008, Roadster, the first all-electric car was launched and it was just an absolute catastrophe. It was way too costly, overheated and broke down constantly. Using too much innovation and automation in a single project led to many technical roadblocks and resulted in the final price being skyrocketed. This led to poor sales and shortage of funds. Tesla cars, although giving great performances, just weren’t accepted by the masses. Case in point was that the Roadster had a maximum speed of 10mph! Musk once took Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google on a ride in the Roadster, hoping to get them to invest. Unbelievably though, they enjoyed the death slow ride and invested!! With Tesla almost closing down, Musk stepped in as CEO and put in all his funds. Tesla barely stayed alive and eventually went on to capture the new age car market. Today, Tesla is one of the pioneers in electric cars and is aiming to sell electric cars at affordable prices. It seems as though Elon Musk is the go to guy for all the failures that a person may experience on the way to the top. But then again, the journey upward can never be mundane. He may have experienced hundreds of failures and bad moments, but the only reason for his success is that he fought and got up those hundred times, he gave his best shot to everything, he simply just stayed in the fight. Only through perseverance, he emerged on the other side, a victor!