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Elon Musk’s changing masks – the shocking billionaire innovator turns half a century


Every time his ideas are called cheating, but he shames his critics.

People of this type are usually called visionaries – they are able to look into the future and there to see what is hidden from the gaze of an ordinary person. But less flattering characteristics are also applied to them, the meaning of which is that their way of thinking and behavior does not fit into the framework of conventions and standards. They are geniuses or at least have unique abilities. There are always a few such personalities, society forgives geniuses everything, and they know it. Elon Musk is one of them.

He was born in South Africa, Pretoria on June 28, 1971. His father was a South African citizen, his mother was a Canadian citizen. They divorced in 1980. At the age of 17, Elon ended up in Canada, where he entered to study at Queen’s University (Ontario), and two years later transferred to the American University of Pennsylvania. There he received his bachelor’s degrees in physics and economics. In 1995, wanting to continue his studies at Stanford University, he moved to California. However, then his plans changed dramatically, and instead of studying, Musk went into business.

To say that it paid off is to say nothing. As the Forbes journalist Sergey Khlebnikov, who specializes in billionaires, wrote in April this year, in one year – from 2020 to 2021 – Musk’s fortune increased sixfold, and he took second place in the billionaire table of ranks. In absolute numbers, his wealth has grown from $ 24.6 billion (which is also, frankly, a lot) to $ 151 billion.

However, a month later, the same Khlebnikov described the opposite metamorphosis that happened to Elon Musk: the billionaire’s personal fortune instantly collapsed by $ 20.5 billion, and he became not the second, but the third richest person on the planet. After that, Musk was left with “only” $ 145.5 billion.

Don’t try to catch me on mistakes in arithmetic – they are not here. The astronomical figures of multi-billion dollar fortunes change not only monthly, but daily and hourly since the estimates of their fortunes are largely based on the exchange value of the securities they own (primarily, the shares of their companies). Stock quotes go up and down; while New York is still asleep, stocks are being traded on the London Stock Exchange; when London sleeps, Hong Kong has already woken up.

Numbers are not important here – billionaires do not feel their growth or decrease. When financial genius Warren Buffett began regularly donating half of his Berkshire Hathaway shares to charity 15 years ago, he was “worth” $ 42 billion. Having given away $ 41 billion over the years, he became not poorer, but twice as rich – now he is ” worth “$ 100 billion: Berkshire Hathaway shares have risen rapidly over the years.

So in the case of Musk, it is not the state numbers that are important, but the reasons for their growth and fall. In the first case, when he became six times richer in one year, this was due to the fantastic surge in the value of Tesla, an electric car company co-founded and CEO of which is Elon Musk. In the second case, shares of the same Tesla fell 15%, hitting Musk’s fortune, and he himself was partly to blame.

Acting as the host of the popular Saturday Night Live TV show, Elon fully lived up to his reputation as an unpredictable individual with whom you will not get bored – for which he was invited to this role. He revealed, among other things, that he has Asperger’s syndrome. The Austrian scientist, after whom the disease was named, said that it was “autistic psychopathy.” The news of the syndrome, understandably, did not add credibility to the extravagant billionaire and his business. Tesla was already going down on the stock exchange due to a decrease in demand for the company’s cars in China, and then Musk added his own story.

This was not the end of it. The eccentric Elon laughed at his own business initiatives, and also discussed the hype around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin with TV audiences. Musk once promoted cryptocurrencies in every possible way; in February of this year, he announced that Tesla would accept bitcoins as a means of payment. However, after a couple of months, he stopped considering blockchain money as money and announced via Twitter that he was stopping accepting bitcoins, because “the use of fossil fuels is rapidly increasing in mining and transactions with bitcoins.” Elon Musk is an opponent and supporter of clean energy. Bitcoin was sent by Musk to a deep knockdown – the cryptocurrency instantly lost 17% of its exchange value. Well, Dogecoin has knocked out altogether,

Musk has had many business ventures, but three of them are especially famous worldwide: Tesla, SpaceX and PayPal. A private space exploration company (how many businessmen can boast such an asset?) SpaceX is Musk’s second-largest business after Tesla. In May 2020, SpaceX completed the first American manned space flight since 2011. Last November, SpaceX began transporting astronauts to the International Space Station. By February 2021, the market value of this Musk company reached $ 74 billion, showing an increase of more than one and a half times in six months. According to Forbes magazine, Musk’s share in the space giant is 48%, which in dollars is equal to $ 32 billion.

The third world-renowned company co-founded by Elon Musk is PayPal, the world’s most popular e-wallet with 377 million active accounts today. PayPal came about in 2000 through the merger of Confinity with Musk’s online bank X.com. And already in 2002, PayPal was bought by a larger player – the main online auction in the world eBay (the transaction amount was $ 1.5 billion).

Another high-profile project by Elon Musk is called in English Hyperloop – literally “hyperloop” (the Boring Company is engaged in it – the name translates as a play on words: “Drilling Company” or “Boring Company”). In the underground tunnel, a pipeline is laid in which a vacuum is created to achieve ultra-high speeds by eliminating air resistance. Musk proposes to build a track along which a trailer running in a vacuum tube will take passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles (distance – 560 km) in 35 minutes. Speed ​​- 1200 km per hour. To date, a more modest, but also impressive speed has actually been achieved: 463 km per hour. It was developed by the team of the Munich University of Technology, participating in the annual competition of constructors “hyperloop” – this is another endeavor of Musk.

But Musk not only founds companies with disruptive technologies, not only promotes them to colossal success but also … abandons them, carried away by new ideas. He is restless, never satisfied with what has been achieved, and always strives to achieve new frontiers in new areas. He clearly sees them in a future hazy for most people. In a word – a visionary!

In 2015, Elon Musk founded the philanthropic research corporation OpenAI, which focuses on artificial intelligence. In 2016, he created the Neuralink company, whose field of activity is neurotechnology: it works on the interaction of organic and inorganic intelligence (the brain-computer connection through special interfaces). Two years later, he had another brainchild – the QuantumAI company, into which he pumped $ 2 billion in two years and announced that he would be engaged in this project, and let others do boring things, such as those already promoted by Tesla and SpaceX.

What is Quantum AI? They say that this is such an upgrade of computer technology: no longer a supercomputer, but a hyper computer on steroids. Nobody will tell us the details of the new technology, but the name QuantumAI (“quantum artificial intelligence”) promises a revolutionary breakthrough. This is Musk – he believes that people will soon live on Mars and that a more just society can be created peacefully on Earth. A naive eccentric? Visionary! Each time his ideas are called cheating, and time after time he puts his critics to shame. They want to invite him to Russia – maybe he will carry out some kind of peaceful revolution in our vastness by means of high technologies?

Extravagant Elon is surrounded not only by admirers but also by fierce critics and accusers. In 2018, he was sued by the formidable US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates publicly traded companies. The SEC accused him of spreading false information about Tesla: Musk tweeted that he allegedly found funds to privatize Tesla. He bought off the SEC with a fine and temporarily left the post of chairman of the board of the company. Musk has been sharply criticized for spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, for his views on artificial intelligence, public transportation, and more. His positions on almost all issues are unorthodox. He really does not like coronavirus restrictions and because of them he moved from “not free” California to “free” Texas.

He has a stormy personal life: after three marriages, in the first of which he had five children, Musk began dating Canadian singer and musician Grimes (real name – Claire Elise Boucher). Last year they had a son, who was given the name “X Æ A-XII” by shocking parents. It is unlikely that the baby will be happy with him when he grows up a little and begins to communicate with his peers. And, I think, when he will be as old as his dad is today, his name will be completely different.


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