Elon Musk: Building a bridge between tomorrow and today

Written by Frank Calviño

Elon Musk is an inventor, a businessman, an entrepreneur, a scientist of sorts, and most importantly, a full time revolutionary. This American-Canadian business magnate surfed the wave of the .com bubble, creating and commanding companies such as Zip2, X.com and the internationally renowned Pay Pal. During the rapid growth of the early internet, Musk amassed a massive 4 billion dollars network of online companies, the most notable being Pay Pal.   

 

PayPal’s early growth was driven mainly by a viral marketing campaign where new customers were recruited when they received money through the service. The security features of Pay Pal allowed consolidating the idea of using Internet and online paying services as a valid form of doing business, and alongside Amazon – directed by Jeff Bezos – Musk’s Pay Pal established the rules for the new online global market.

 

Unfortunately Musk was later ousted from his role as CEO of Pay Pal due to disagreements with other company leaderships, notably over his desire to move PayPal’s Unix-based infrastructure to Microsoft Windows. Time proved that, at least in that particular matter, Musk was right. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which US$165 million was given to Musk. Before its sale, Musk, who was the company’s largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares. After being bought by eBay the company shifted its Unix-based infrastructure to a more compatible Microsoft Windows based system.

But Pay Pal was not the end of the road for Musk; on the contrary, it was merely the beginning of far more ambitious projects. In 2001, Musk conceptualized “Mars Oasis”; a project to land a miniature experimental greenhouse on Mars, containing food crops growing on Martian regolith, in an attempt to regain public interest in space exploration. In October 2001, Musk travelled to Moscow with Jim Cantrell (an aerospace supplies fixer), and Adeo Ressi (his best friend from college), to buy refurbished ICBMs (Dnepr-1) that could send the envisioned payloads into space. The group met with companies such as NPO Lavochkin and Kosmotras, however, according to Cantrell, Musk was seen as a novice and was consequently spat on by one of the Russian chief designers, and the group returned to the United States empty-handed. After many sleepless nights, Musk decided that, if he could not get his hands on a ICBM Russian rocket, he would use his fortune to build one from zero. And so he did. In 2002 with a capital of 100 million dollars, Elon Musk created the first major privately operated space travel company, accordingly named SpaceX, and started production of the entire launching facility, rocketeer technology and all the associated factories needed to produce every piece of equipment required to leave the Earth, and explore the immensity of space.
Alongside his galactic desires, Elon Musk has not forgotten our watery planet, and has moved heaven and earth to create a fully functional electric car company. His desire is to create the first non-contaminating high specs / low price cars in history. A very complex desire that resulted in the creation of Tesla Motors, and the fabrication of the Tesla Roadster, a car that was acclaimed by critics and is regarded as the only electric car able to actually compete against high profile gasoline-based muscle cars. For his utter determination to achieve the impossible, for his unstoppable creativity, and for his undeniable management genius, Elon Musk stands as one of the most amazing examples of success and Total Quality Management.  

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Frank Calviño

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