Elon Musk: Who is he

Elon Musk im Jahr 2020

Twitter only came under Elon Musk's leadership in October 2022, but since then, it has undergone significant changes.

The most recent of these saw him make an effort to bring Twitter closer to his vision of it becoming an "everything app," competing with services like China's WeChat and Indonesia's GoJek. That process appears to have already begun, as the website has been rebranded as X and lost its iconic blue bird logo.

Since assuming control of the company, Mr. Musk has also outlined a vision for it to become a redesigned "digital town square" and worked to create new revenue streams for the platform.

It has come to be expected of the wealthy businessman that many of his decisions have divided people and had mixed results.

The 50-year-old serial entrepreneur has captivated the public with his business antics ever since breaking onto the Silicon Valley scene more than 20 years ago.

Born in South Africa, Mr. Musk displayed his entrepreneurial skills at a young age by selling homemade Easter eggs door to door with his brother and making his first computer game at the age of 12.

Because of his parents' divorce, bullying at school, and his own Asperger's Syndrome-related difficulty interpreting social cues, he has described his childhood as challenging. He moved to Canada and then the US to attend the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League school, to study economics and physics as soon as he had the chance.

His first wife, Justine Musk, a writer who met Mr. Musk in college and wed him in 2000, wrote in a 2010 essay for Marie Claire that, even before his wealth, Mr. Musk was "not a man who takes no for an answer.".

She recalled that he had told her while dancing at their wedding that "I am the alpha in this relationship," adding that the competitive and dominant nature that had made him so successful in business had not magically disappeared when he returned home. ".

When Mr. Musk was accepted to Stanford University's graduate program in physics, he quickly dropped out and, during the 1990s "dotcom boom," founded two technology start-up companies. These included a web software company and an online banking business that later evolved into PayPal and was acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.05 billion.

He invested his fortune in two start-up businesses: SpaceX, which he hoped would be a less expensive competitor to NASA, and Tesla, where he served as board chairman before taking the helm as CEO in 2008.

Elon Musk in 2004
Elon Musk shortly after launching SpaceX in 2004.

Even though they occasionally came dangerously close to financial collapse, the two companies are credited with revolutionizing their respective industries.

According to journalist Chris Stokel-Walker, "I'm never hugely convinced that he knows what he wants to do tomorrow.". He largely follows his instincts. ".

Author Ashlee Vance labeled Mr. Musk as "a confrontational know-it-all" with an "abundant ego" in a biography she wrote in 2015. He also referred to him as an awkward dancer and a shy public speaker.

Three times divorced, twice from the same woman, Mr. Musk is open about his vices and frequently talks about his love of marijuana.

He's been referred to in the media as both a mad genius and Twitter's biggest troll; he's known for both his lofty aspirations and his petty fights, not to mention the more serious lawsuits regulators, investors, and others have brought against him and his companies over issues like racial discrimination and the veracity of his claims.

Mr. Musk recently stated in a TED interview that "if you list my sins, I sound like the worst person on Earth.". But it makes much more sense if you compare those to the things I've done correctly. ".

All of those inconsistencies seem to be part of his appeal, and they haven't stopped him from accumulating wealth.

According to Forbes and Bloomberg, he is the richest man in the world, with a net worth estimated to be between $230 billion and $240 billion (£179 and 187 billion) as of July 2023.

That is largely based on the value of his Tesla shares, which he owns in excess of 13 percent. In 2020, as the company's output increased and it began to generate consistent profits, the value of its stock increased dramatically—some would say unreasonably. The shares have more than cut in half this year, though, and some attribute the decline to the Twitter takeover's distraction.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Elon Musk and son X Æ A-12 on stage TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME)
A-12 in 2021 with Elon Musk and his son X. The "population collapse" has been cited by Mr. Musk, a father of nine, as posing a greater risk than global warming.

Additionally, Mr. Musk supports digital currencies and is involved in a number of smaller businesses, such as the tunnel-builder The Boring Company and the experimental brain-computer start-up Neuralink.

Mr. Musk, who proudly accepts the label of a workaholic, has frequently stated that he is not in business merely to make money, a claim he recently reiterated in relation to his takeover of Twitter.

"Elon only gets involved with things he believes to be of the utmost importance. for the good of society or humanity," claims Ross Gerber, a close friend and Tesla investor.

In spite of attempts to categorize his politics, Mr. Musk, a US citizen since 2002, refers to himself as "half-Democrat, half-Republican," "politically moderate," and "independent.".

That does not imply that he has avoided political discussion.

He has intervened in some of the most contentious geopolitical disputes in the world, suggesting that China create a "special administrative zone" in Taiwan and offering terms to end the conflict in Ukraine that were vehemently rejected by many of the nation's top leaders.

He left California for Texas in the US, complaining about the regulations and high taxes there. He has also had disagreements with union organizers and called coronavirus lockdowns "fascist" in the spring of 2020.

Tesla boss Elon Musk at the Tesla Giga Texas manufacturing opening party in Austin, Texas.
At the Tesla gigafactory opening celebration in Austin, Texas, Elon Musk was present.

He left a White House business council after Mr. Trump withdrew the US from a global climate agreement, becoming one of the first business leaders to break with the former president Donald Trump.

He has, however, made it clear that he doesn't like President Joe Biden, whom he believes has shunned Tesla while promoting electric vehicles.

With only $100,000 donated since 2004, according to Politico, he has made relatively few direct political contributions for a man of his wealth. Early on, he gave to both parties roughly equally, supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2015 and former President Barack Obama in 2011, but more recently, he has focused on Republicans.

He is a top supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union, a US non-profit organization well known for defending ideals like free speech. The majority of Mr. Musk's donations, according to reports, appear to have gone to his own charitable foundations, which will eventually distribute the money.

Because his companies are dedicated to resolving significant societal problems, like climate change in the case of Tesla, he recently stated that he views them as a form of philanthropy.

When the head of the United Nations World Food Programme challenged billionaires to make one-time donations to end the global food crisis last autumn, Elon Musk responded to the request with skepticism.

Liv McMahon contributed more reporting.

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