15 Facts About Elon Musk

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Elon Musk has always been a thinker and a creator. As a child, he daydreamed in an almost trance-like manner and coded his own video games. He always found resourceful ways to make money, and after he graduated from college, he opted for entrepreneurship rather than wait for an internet company to take notice of him.

Numerous passions inspired Musk, and today he manages companies and projects that specialize in electric and self-driving cars, private space exploration and Mars colonization, solar energy and artificial intelligence.

On top of his executive roles with Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity and OpenAI, Musk has time for fatherhood, Hollywood, playing video games and brainstorming even more big ideas. Below are 15 surprising facts and anecdotes about Musk that paint a picture of the eccentric multi-disciplinary engineer.

1. His parents thought he might be deaf.
When Musk was a child, he would often gaze into the distance while his parents were speaking to him, which led them to believe that he might be hard of hearing. Doctors removed his adenoids, but it made no difference.

It turned out he was just daydreaming. His mother, Maye, told biographer Ashlee Vance, “He goes into his brain, and then you just see he is in another world. … Now I just leave him be because I know he is designing a new rocket or something.”

2. He was violently bullied as a child.
Growing up in South Africa, Musk’s classmates bullied him and beat him up badly. At age 41, he had surgery to fix a deviated septum.

During his recovery, he tweeted Tesla ideas while hopped up on painkillers.

3. He wrote and sold a video game in 1984.
It was called Blastar, and Musk, then 12, received $500 when its source code was published in the South African magazine PC and Office Technology. In 2015, a Google software engineer revised the code to function in HTML5 and made it playable. The objective of the game is to destroy an alien ship filled with weapons of mass destruction. While it’s a rudimentary game, don’t forget that it was created by a preteen nearly 33 years ago.

“[It was] a trivial game … but better than Flappy Bird,” Musk told WaitButWhy.

4. He paid his way through college by partying.
While studying at the University of Pennsylvania, the natural entrepreneur would throw house parties and charge a cover fee of $5 to help him pay his rent. He and his roommate were the only residents of a 10-bedroom frat house, and they would cover the windows with black trash bags and the walls with bright paint. Musk would stay sober during the events to keep things under control, as he was never big on drinking. Once, his mother Maye worked the door at one of the parties.

5. He dropped out.
In 1995, Musk enrolled in graduate school at Stanford University to study physics. Within two days he decided that the internet had far greater promise to change society and left to found Zip2, a company that provided maps and directories to online newspapers.

6. He’s a father of five.
Musk has five sons with his ex-wife Justine Wilson. Twins Griffin and Xavier were born in 2004, and triplets Damian, Saxon and Kai were born in 2006. The couple also had a son named Nevada, born in 2002 and named after the location of Burning Man, the music and arts festival where he was conceived, though he died of sudden infant death syndrome at 10 weeks of age.

7. He’s the real-life Tony Stark.
Musk was the inspiration for Robert Downey, Jr.’s character, Tony Stark, in the Iron Man franchise. Downey received a tour of the SpaceX headquarters from Musk in 2007 and picked up on some of what he has described as “accessible eccentricities.” When the first Iron Man film was released, director Jon Favreau explained that Musk had inspired Downey’s interpretation of the character. Musk had a cameo in Iron Man 2.

8. He almost went broke.
Amid the Great Recession and an expensive divorce from his first wife, Wilson, who blogged about her demands on LiveJournal, Musk was living off loans from his wealthy friends. Musk put his last $35 million into Tesla and maintained his stake in the company, despite his lack of cash. Tesla went public, and today it’s valued at more than $33.4 billion, while Musk himself is worth $12.7 billion, according to Forbes.

9. He owns one of James Bond’s cars.
In 2013, Musk spent $866,000 in an auction for the Lotus Esprit submarine car from the 007 film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Through Tesla PR, Musk told Jalopnik, “It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater. I was disappointed to learn that it can’t actually transform. What I’m going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.”

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SOURCE: Entrepreneur, Lydia Belanger