This quarter we’re focusing on Elon Musk; the man who is changing the way we think about everything he thinks about. While many people think of innovation as adapting existing technology to new sectors, Elon Musk thinks of innovation in terms of:
1. Is it within the laws of physics?
2. Will it benefit mankind?
Here are a few businesses where Elon Musk is changing or has changed the game.
1. PayPal; leading the way in digital payments.
Elon Musk had the foresight to see that digital payments were the future. After selling his first startup Zip2 and pocketing $22 million, Elon Musk invested $10 million to co-found an online financial services company called “X”.com. “X”.com then merged with Confinity; a PDA to PDA (remember them?) payment system. It was Musk who decided to do away with all the other services the company offered and concentrate on the PayPal service offer.
2. SpaceX; Reusable space rockets.
The thinking behind ‘SpaceX’ was that conventional rockets only get used once (inefficient) but reusable rockets would be far more economical and a fundamental step toward interplanetary exploration (Elon Musk wants to live on Mars). So with the $12 million left over from Zip2, Elon Musk invested it in the formation of ‘SpaceX’ in 2002.
3. Tesla; Getting the planet off its fossil fuel addiction.
Tesla’s mission is to ‘wean our planet off its addiction to fossil fuels, helping to create a long-term sustainable society for future generations’. With this mission statement in mind, it’s not difficult to see why Telsa acquired SolarCity for $2 Billion last year. SolarCity’s own statement is ‘to make clean energy available at a lower cost than energy generated by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas’. It’s a marriage made in green heaven. Tesla was not started by Elon Musk but by 2 Silicon Valley engineers; Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. The pair met Musk speaking at the Mars Society and they were obviously impressed with each other, as after incorporation, Elon Musk led the initial round of funding and became head of the board of directors.
4. The Boring Company.
Elon Musk’s new venture is to build tunnels under cities that will then transport vehicles around on electric sleds. Musk has figured out that he should be able to reduce costs by a factor of x10 compared to the existing tunnelling technology. The thinking is; faster tunnelling equipment working 24/7 on smaller bore tunnels. Again, we see Elon Musk playing the long game, as any network of tunnels under cities could then link up with the highspeed Hyperloop underground system connecting cities. Elon Musk open sourced this idea a few years ago.
- How did Elon Musk fund his businesses, from PayPal to SpaceX and Tesla?
- PayPal SuccessStory
- The Story Behind Tesla’s Success
- Elon Musk’s Boring Company Is Actually Digging Hyperloop Tunnels
- Tesla may open 3 more Gigafactory locations
- Elon Musk plans crazy 2017 for Tesla, but SolarCity may be the biggest headache