Elon Musk, a name often associated with groundbreaking advancements and audacious ventures, is a figure who needs little introduction. From co-founding PayPal to leading revolutionary companies like Tesla and SpaceX, Musk’s life is characterized by constant innovation and the pursuit of ambitious goals. Known for his unrelenting work ethic, love for technological advancements, and a vision for a sustainable future, Musk is undoubtedly one of the most influential people of our time. But there’s more to this serial entrepreneur and multi-billionaire than meets the eye. In this article, we explore ten things you may not know about Elon Musk, providing a deeper insight into the man who aims to redefine our future.

1. Born and Raised in South Africa

Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. His mother, Maye Musk, is a renowned dietitian and model, and his father, Errol Musk, is an engineer. Musk’s keen interest in computing and technology manifested at a young age.

At the young age of 12, Musk developed a video game called “Blastar” which he sold to a magazine for $500. This early venture was a sign of Musk’s entrepreneurial spirit, which would later propel him to the forefront of several industries.

2. Dropped out of Stanford

Musk moved to the United States to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in physics and economics. Afterward, he began a Ph.D. at Stanford University, but dropped out just two days later to pursue a career in entrepreneurship.

In 1995, Musk and his brother Kimbal founded Zip2, a city guide software company. The company was eventually sold to Compaq in 1999 for $307 million, marking the beginning of Musk’s successful career in business.

3. Founded SpaceX after a Trip to Russia

In 2002, Musk founded SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp.), driven by his vision to make space travel more affordable and to colonize Mars. This idea came about after Musk visited Russia to buy a refurbished intercontinental ballistic missile and found the prices too high.

Undeterred, Musk decided to start his own company to build affordable rockets. Despite early failures, SpaceX has made numerous breakthroughs in reducing the costs of space travel, including developing the first privately-funded, liquid-fueled rocket (Falcon 1) to reach orbit.

4. He Almost Went Bankrupt

In 2008, Musk almost went bankrupt. The 2008 recession, coupled with early failures of SpaceX, left him in a dire financial situation. At the same time, Tesla Motors, where Musk was a major investor and chairman, was also on the brink of collapse.

Musk chose to invest his remaining funds into his companies instead of securing his personal wealth. Both SpaceX and Tesla managed to stay afloat after securing contracts (SpaceX with NASA) and investments (Tesla from Daimler AG) that helped them navigate through this financial crisis.

5. Musk’s Work Ethic is Intense

Musk is known for his intense work ethic, often working up to 100 hours a week. He splits his time between SpaceX and Tesla, with additional time allocated to his other ventures like Neuralink and The Boring Company.

This level of commitment to his work has drawn both praise and criticism. While some admire his dedication and drive, others question the work culture at his companies. Regardless, Musk’s work ethic is integral to understanding his approach to business and innovation.

6. Interest in Sustainable Energy and Transport

Musk’s concern for the environment led him to envision a future powered by sustainable energy. This vision is reflected in Tesla Motors, which Musk joined in 2004, a year after its establishment. Under Musk’s leadership, Tesla has become a leader in electric vehicle manufacturing.

In addition to electric vehicles, Musk has ventured into renewable energy solutions with SolarCity, a company he co-founded with his cousins in 2006. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016, further integrating sustainable energy into the brand’s ecosystem.

7. Inspired the Portrayal of Tony Stark

Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark in the “Iron Man” movies was partly inspired by Elon Musk. Downey Jr. even visited SpaceX’s facility to observe Musk’s demeanor and lifestyle for his role.

Musk made a cameo appearance in “Iron Man 2,” and parts of the film were shot at SpaceX. This connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe is testament to Musk’s reputation as a real-life figure of innovation and advanced technology.

8. Musk is a Major Donor to Charity

Beyond his business ventures, Musk has made significant contributions to various charities. In 2012, he signed The Giving Pledge, promising to donate the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

Musk’s donations have focused on areas such as education, renewable energy research, pediatric research, and human space exploration research. In addition, he has provided funding for disaster response, such as donating water filters to Flint, Michigan during its water crisis.

9. His Tweets have Stirred Controversy

Musk is known for his active presence on Twitter, where he shares updates about his companies, thoughts on emerging technologies, and even memes. However, his tweets have sometimes led to controversy and legal issues.

Perhaps most notably, Musk’s tweets about taking Tesla private at $420 per share led to a lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As part of a settlement, Musk stepped down as Tesla’s chairman and paid a hefty fine, but remained the CEO.

10. Musk Wants to Colonize Mars

One of Musk’s most ambitious goals is to establish a human colony on Mars. Through SpaceX, he plans to develop the Starship, a fully reusable spacecraft designed to carry up to 100 people.

Musk hopes that making life multiplanetary will safeguard humanity’s future in the event of a catastrophe on Earth. While this goal is certainly audacious, it encapsulates Musk’s willingness to push boundaries and his unending pursuit of progress.