For all the would-be entrepreneurs out there, Elon Musk has one piece of advice, "Have a goal that's world-changing," and when you look at his resume, you can see he practices this wisdom.
He founded five companies, one of which revolutionized ecommerce (Paypal), another developed the first modern electric car to run completely on lithium-ion batteries (Tesla), a third was the first private company to launch and recover a spacecraft (SpaceX) and a fourth designs, finances and installs solar energy systems (SolarCity). Now all he needs to do is develop the cure for cancer, and he'll have the perfect trifecta of emerging markets covered.
Like most visionaries of his caliber, South African-born Musk has always been a forward thinker. He got his first computer at the age of 10 and taught himself how to use it, then immigrated to Canada at 17, without parental support, to avoid enforcing apartheid through compulsory service with the South African military. Eventually, he landed at Stanford, fulfilling his ultimate goal to come to America, "where great things are possible."
And in America, Musk has accomplished great things. Perhaps his best-known and most controversial role is as founder and head of product design at Tesla Motors. The company produced The Roadster in 2008, which blew the world away as the first modern American all-electric and highway-capable vehicle in serial production.
It looks like a Porsche and according to the U.S. EPA, it can travel 244 miles on a single charge. Its performance and style challenged common misconceptions about electric vehicles and the market received the car with open arms. So why did Tesla almost run out of cash in 2009?
Speculation around this topic reached a fever pitch when a rogue employee first released the information, and most assumed it was the company's debt structure, small distribution network and the cost of development that was to blame. After the news broke, Musk confirmed that Tesla was indeed running low on cash, but he promised to pay for all product-delivery costs out of his own pocket.
The company has since righted its financial problems and had its IPO in June of 2010. Now, the gossip around the water cooler centers on the question, is Tesla ripe for the selling? Musk has not hinted at anything of this nature, but it begs the question, would the purchase of Tesla by a larger auto company with greater resources be better for the brand and the electric car industry as a whole?It would certainly free up some of Musk's time so that he could start developing that cure for cancer. So maybe, in the end, it would be better for us.
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