Elon Reeve Musk FRS (born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate, industrial designer, engineer, and philanthropist. He is the founder, CEO, CTO and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018. In 2018, he was ranked 25th on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People, and was ranked joint-first on the Forbes list of the Most Innovative Leaders of 2019. As of September 2, 2020, his net worth was estimated by Forbes to be US$93.3 billion, making him the 5th richest person in the world. He is also the longest tenured CEO of any automotive manufacturer globally.
Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada when he was 17 to attend Queen’s University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and physics. He moved to California in 1995 to begin a Ph.D. in applied physics and material sciences at Stanford University, but dropped out after 2 days to pursue a business career. With his brother Kimbal and Greg Kouri, he co-founded Zip2, a web software company, which was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. Musk then founded X.com, an online bank. It merged with Confinity in 2000, which had launched PayPal the previous year and was subsequently bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in October 2002.
In May 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and lead designer. He joined Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.), an electric vehicle manufacturer, in 2004, the year after it was founded, became its product architect, and became its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company (now a subsidiary of Tesla). In 2015, Musk co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that aims to promote friendly artificial intelligence. In July 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces. In December 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunnel construction company focused on tunnels optimized for electric vehicles. In addition to his primary business pursuits, Musk envisioned an open-source high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop based on the concept of a vactrain.
Musk has also been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox stances and highly publicized scandals. When his submarine was rejected as a viable option for the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue, Musk called a lead-diver a “pedo-guy”. The diver sued Musk for libel, but a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. Also in 2018, Musk falsely tweeted that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla at $420 a share. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued him for the comment; Musk temporarily stepped down from chairman and settled with the SEC; the settlement included limitations on his Twitter usage, though reporting suggests Musk has not always abided by all of them. Musk has also received substantial criticism for his views on artificial intelligence, public transportation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.