Ever since the creation of Zip2 Corporation in the 1990s, Elon Musk has made a name for himself as a leader in the tech world. These days, he serves as CEO of Tesla and is involved in countless other successful projects, including space exploration and artificial intelligence research. He is as unique personally as the life he leads.
Want to know even more about the eccentric billionaire? Let’s take a peek into the most intriguing insider secrets about billionaire Elon Musk.
South African Born
Elon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971 to Maye and Errol Musk. His mother was a Canadian model — the oldest to appear on CoverGirl, in fact — and his father was an engineer. Musk has a sister named Tosca and a brother named Kimbal.
They Thought He Was Deaf
As a kid, Musk was notorious for daydreaming. He would disappear so deeply into his thoughts that he wouldn't notice his friends talking to him. This worried his parents, so they decided to have doctors run tests to make sure he wasn't losing his hearing.
His Model Mother
Elon Musk's mother is quite a unique woman. During her modeling career, she appeared on the covers of Elle Canada, Time and New York Magazine and was even a finalist in the Miss South Africa pageant in 1969. In addition, Maye Musk runs her own nutrition business and has authored a book.
A Not-so-Great Relationship with His Father
It’s no secret that Elon Musk doesn’t think highly of his father. He has called him both "evil" and "a terrible human being" on separate occasions, and he reportedly hasn’t spoken to him in a long time. Why the rift?
A Way to Cope (and a Way to Defend)
Shortly after his parents' divorce, Musk found an outlet in computers. He learned how to program all on his own when he was still a pre-teen. At age 12, he made his first software sale, Blastar, a video game he created himself. His peers weren't impressed, however, and the nerdy Musk was a victim of bullying in his early teen years.
Violence in South Africa
Musk has spoken about his experiences growing up in South Africa, and it wasn’t all good. He describes the school he attended, Bryanston High, as being rife with bullying and violence. It all came to a head one day when bullies kicked him down a staircase and then continued to beat him.
He Tried to Open an Arcade at 16
Elon Musk had ambition from a young age. When he was 16, he and his brother and some cousins wanted to start a video arcade close to their school. It wasn't a fleeting idea blown out of proportion by kids. They signed a lease and started completing paperwork for the city.
Musk wasn't always wildly rich and successful. When he came to the United States to attend college, he didn't have a lot of money to live on. This didn't get him down too much. He simply made the clever decision to buy his food in bulk. Doing the math, he determined he could eat for a dollar a day using this method.
An Underground Nightclub?
One of the ways Musk made up for his measly finances during college was by setting up a "nightclub" at his house. Instead of living on campus, he and a buddy rented a big former fraternity house farther from the school so they could pay less for rent.
He Skipped Out on a Ph.D.
Musk planned to continue his education after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. He was all set to attend Stanford, planning to earn a Ph.D. in energy physics, but he dropped out after only two days in the program. Why? He wanted to take the plunge into the dotcom boom.
Elon Musk is famous for his fascination with space. Because of it, he founded SpaceX in 2002, a company that develops rocket technology. His dream is to improve space travel to the point where humans can live off the Earth's surface (maybe even on Mars).
The Inspiration for Tony Stark?
Not everyone knows that Robert Downey Jr.'s interpretation of Tony Stark (a.k.a Iron Man) is based on Musk. Given that Stark is a billionaire and a genius, the director had to think of a way to make the character believable. What better way than to base him on a real-life billionaire genius?
A Not-so-Smooth Love Life
Musk is famous for having a bit of a rocky track record with the ladies. He met his first wife, science-fiction author Justine Musk, during college. They went on to have five kids together before things disintegrated. Post-divorce, Justine described Elon as being a "domineering" husband, treating her more like an employee than a life partner.
Musk Gives "Homeschooled" a New Meaning
As Musk's kids grew up, he decided he didn't like the education they were receiving. As a solution to this problem, he created his own school named Ad Astra (Latin for "to the stars") and enrolled a total of 15 children, including his own. With only three teachers, this school didn't focus solely on grades.
The Musk Foundation
Elon Musk loves space so much that he created the Musk Foundation to further space exploration. But wait, doesn't he already have SpaceX? Apparently, one organization isn't enough for him. At the Musk Foundation, you can check out a simulated Mars environment to test what it would be like living on the red planet.
Musk Is a "Thrillionaire"
The term "thrillionaire" has come about in recent years to refer to people with lots of wealth who have the desire to use it for thrilling purposes. Sometimes this manifests as epic adventures or life-threatening stunts, but in Elon Musk's case, it refers to his dedication to science-fiction-like pursuits.
A Cameo on The Simpsons
Throughout the years, Elon Musk has made a smattering of cameos in television series. According to IMDb, he has appeared on shows like The Big Bang Theory and South Park, and he was also featured in a Simpsons episode entitled "The Musk That Fell to Earth".
He Signed “The Giving Pledge”
Elon Musk is very vocal about fighting global warming, supporting sustainable energy and protecting the Earth in general. He also puts his money where his mouth is and has signed The Giving Pledge, along with other billionaires like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Although Musk is a strong supporter of artificial intelligence research, it's not necessarily because he's excited about it. He has actually expressed fear and uncertainty surrounding the development of artificial intelligence. As Vox explains, Musk believes AI can surpass human intelligence to dangerous levels.
Sure, we all love James Bond, but would you spend $997,000 for a prop from one of the movies? Well, Elon Musk did exactly that. Of course, the word "prop" might not be appropriate to describe this custom-made submarine car nicknamed Wet Nellie, but it's still a non-functioning vehicle.
A Negative Work Environment?
Elon Musk's reputation for how he conducts business isn’t all good. Specifically, female workers at Tesla have come forward claiming unequal pay and sexual harassment. There has also been one known case filed of racial harassment against an electrician, but that case was settled out of court.
Elon Musk has a less-than-favorable view of unions. A judge even ruled that Musk's company was acting illegally by preventing unions from forming through intimidation and restrictions on union paraphernalia. Musk even allowed one employee to be fired for promoting union efforts.
Okay, it's not that Elon Musk is anti-press exactly, but he doesn't like what's happening in the media today. He believes there isn't enough accountability in the news, and that media companies are too focused on clicks and page views instead of presenting the real, valuable truth.
His Work Ethic Is Unbelievable
It shouldn't be too shocking that a billionaire has an insane work ethic. Even so, his capacity for productivity could be called concerning. He has said that if an entrepreneur wants to be successful, they should put in 80 to 100 hours a week. That's twice the time of a full-time job!
He Tried to Save the Thai Soccer Boys
In 2018, a youth soccer team in Thailand got trapped in a cave due to heavy rains in monsoon season. The 12 boys and their coach spent 10 days inside the cave, waiting for rescue and growing weaker. After seeing the news, Musk sprang into action.
He Plagiarized a Farting Unicorn?
In 2017, Elon Musk tweeted a photo of a mug with a colorful drawing of a farting unicorn under a rainbow. He loved it! Unfortunately, an uncannily similar drawing later appeared in a Tesla Christmas card. This didn't go unnoticed by the artist's daughter, who called Musk out.
He Doesn't Like Vacations — For a Good Reason
There's a good reason that Musk has claimed his vacations are cursed. He just doesn't have good luck with them — something always seems to go wrong while he's away. When he first took a vacation from PayPal, he was replaced by someone else. After creating SpaceX, he took another vacation — and a rocket exploded!
He Has "Let Loose" on the Air
Elon Musk went on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in 2018 for a long discussion about his life, career and beliefs. It was a relaxed atmosphere, and the two had a good time talking artificial intelligence, technology and colonies on Mars. But did they have a little too much fun?
His Salary Isn’t as High as You Think
The CEO of Tesla has said that he would be happy not receiving a salary at all for the work he does. That isn't possible under California law, so Musk settles for minimum wage. That’s right — he makes $37,000 a year.
Elon Musk found economic success starting at a young age, and things have only improved for him since then. He sits at #23 on the Forbes 400 list and has a net worth of $22.4 billion.At only 48 years old, he could still reach even greater heights.