A South African born Canadian-American entrepreneur and inventor, Elon Reeves Musk is the CEO and product designer of Tesla Inc, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, previously co-founder of PayPal. The focus of Elon Musk is clear as daylight, and it’s to secure the future of humanity and the three areas he identified as key are the internet, sustainable energy and extending human life to other planets.
Elon earned degrees in business and physics at the university of Pennsylvania before starting Stanford’s graduate program in applied physics. A program he abandoned within two days to pursue a career as an internet entrepreneur and he founded his first company Zip2, an online directory service. After a rough start to life as a company with most people not putting money into the internet, Zip2 would be a success and was acquired in a $307 million deal by Compaq just a year after Elon had convinced the board to withdraw from a proposed merger with CitySearch.
After his journey with Zip2, Elon wanted to transform the financial services industry despite his lack of experience in the field. But he saw extreme lack of innovation in the industry which was an opportunity for him. He founded X.com in 1999 to transform the stagnating industry, X.com went on to acquire Confinity in 2000. It was a lucrative move but there were disagreements about the direction of the firm under Elon before he quit as CEO of X.com which was renamed PayPal and acquired a year later by eBay in $1.5 billion deal.
Elon Musk was still willing to take risks to achieve his goals despite his PayPal windfall, hence he founded Space Explorations Technology (SpaceX), which became the first private company to successfully send spaceship into orbit and bring it back to Earth. He later founded Tesla Motors an electric car company, with Elon setting his sights on production of midlevel electric cars that will eventually outnumber internal combustion cars. Elon Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity founded by cousins Peter and Lyndon Rive.
Elon Musk as a successful entrepreneur and investor has his own business principles that has helped thus far and are applicable for startup founders. Below are some key principles and advices from Reid Hoffman:
• Build Your Company Around a Great Product: As an entrepreneur, the most important thing to do is to focus on building a great product or service. Elon Musk says “if I were to offer one piece of advice to entrepreneurs it would be to stay very close to the product and be hell-bent on making it as good as it can it be”.
• Human Resources: Elon believes when you are evaluating people, you need to look beyond the immediate supervisors. The feedback loop should include a rigorous peer review system.
• Leadership: “Run your company as long as you possibly can”. Elon Musk thinks founders should run their firm for as long as they can. Founders should only consider passing the baton of running the firm to an individual who is way better at creating better products.