Twitter, SpaceX, Tesla … Elon Musk, the businessman and innovator who sets no limits

Twitter, SpaceX, Tesla ... Elon Musk, the businessman and innovator who sets no limits


“How much ?” We are in 2017 and beyond Twitter, Elon Musk wonders about the value of the social network he adores. Five years later, the 50-year-old billionaire knows the answer: he announced on Monday, April 25 that he was going to pay $ 44 billion to 100% of the shares. After stars (SpaceX), transportation (Tesla, Hyperloop), infrastructure (The Boring Company), science (Neurolink) or cryptocurrencies, the man with fortune is estimated at $ 219 billion (€ 208 billion), according to Forbes, therefore, further expands its empire. On “a whim”argues its author Elon Musk: the businessman who will change the world (Eyrolles, 2017), Ashlee Vance, in Politico *.

“He usually follows his premonitions, for better or worse. He does very well in general.”depicts his biographer calling him a billionaire “the biggest risk in the world “. Would nothing be impossible in his eyes? Born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria (South Africa), the son of a model and engineer, the grandson of an adventurer, Elon Musk lived in a wealthy environment without obstacles. “My dad used to say, ‘Live dangerously; be careful.’ He added: “There is nothing a Haldeman can do.” I always believed that and I probably showed it to my children. Now it’s “there’s nothing a Musk can do.”writes his mother, Maye Musk, in her memoirs A woman makes a plan (PenguinLife, 2019).

Elon Musk was 18 when he flew to Canada with $ 2,500 in his pocket, as he wrote on Twitter. From Canada, it crosses the border and joins the famous University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia (USA), to study economics and physics, reports The World (special paid). But rather it looks at the West Coast and Silicon Valley, the focus of “technology” and innovation. The ideal place for those who admit it Challenges (special paid) : “I would not have I could never create what I did here anywhere else. “

In California he made a fortune thanks to the internet. Establish an online directory (Zip2) and a bank ( that will lead to Paypal. In 2002, after eBay bought the payment service for $ 1.5 billion, Elon Musk reached the jackpot: $ 180 million. His property is made. Then he began to conquer space with the ambition to revolutionize everything. During a space show in 2005, he confidently told the leaders of Arianespace, ILS and Sea Launch: “In five years, you are all dead.” The company of Space X was then 3 years old. “Everyone laughed in his face and today no one laughs anymore”, observes astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, an expert in the field who has made three space flights to NASA. Even if his prediction did not come true.

Elon Musk lost almost everything several times before dethroning Jeff Bezos on the list of the richest people in the world: the first three SpaceX flights exploded, Tesla did not produce cars for two years and its bankruptcy has been announced repeatedly. “Entrepreneurship is a huge amusement park train, you can not go all the way without going all the way down”, analyzes Jade Le Maître, a businessman in robotics.

For Tesla, in which he invested in 2006, Elon Musk got bored, telling Business Insider * that he sometimes slept in his office. He does not forget to say “thank you”. “Daimler invested $ 50 million in May 2009, which saved us. Without it, the game would be over.”, reminds its shareholders in 2016. For SpaceX it was able to rely on NASA, while the US government wanted to save on the cost of travel to the International Space Station (ISS). In December 2008, NASA allocated $ 1.6 billion for twelve flights to the ISS, based on a first successful launch by SpaceX earlier this year.

“I owe it to NASA to support SpaceX when my rockets crashed. I’m the biggest NASA fan.”, thank Elon Musk at the 2016 World Astronautical Conference in Guadalajara (Mexico). Opportunity or real know-how to create and take advantage of opportunities? “In my opinion, you can not reach your level without having managed to build trust with the right people who allow you to implement your projects.” answers Nolwenn Germain, director of an innovation and marketing consulting firm.

“Elon Musk likes to ‘upset’ the world, we have to recognize that he manages to take the crowds with him and that not everyone can do it, he knows how to make us dream.”

Nolwenn Germain, director of an innovation and marketing consulting firm

at franceinfo

Today, Tesla is making a record $ 5.5 billion in revenue in 2021, and Space X has signed a $ 2.9 billion exclusive deal with NASA to send American astronauts to the moon.

But a return to reality can shatter some dreams, such as this Tesla Cybertruck window, which was presented as unbreakable by Elon Musk, and yet shattered by a steel sphere.

Because the billionaire tends to promise big, very early. At risk of distorting reality. Hyperloop, this extremely fast public transit project on a decompression hose? The first section designed near Los Angeles would cost at least ten times more than the estimates given by Elon Musk in 2013, according to Forbes *. Neuralink, the human-machine interconnection project implanted in the brain? The company never explained how the system could cure the ailments reported, from depression to insomnia.

“He is someone who can afford to have whims, even if some people are faced with an impossible realization.”

Jade Le Maître, general manager of a company specializing in robotics

at franceinfo

This is nothing compared to his absolute ambition: “Create a self-sufficient city on Mars” and “Allow humanity to become a space civilization”explained Year*. A project that has many obstacles in front of it. “It’s not crazy about the idea, says Jean-François Clervoy, but at the calendar level, it’s completely. “He promised in 2017 that he could send 40 people to Mars with the Starship in 2024. His spacecraft may be capable of that in the next few years, but other human factors will need much more time to dominate.”

This magnificence is one of the reasons for his success. “It got caught in a cogwheel. If it does not announce a new project or a new innovation every two or three months, it loses its credibility.”, considers Jade Le Maître. And if they do not work, it does not matter: “If it does not work, he and all the people who accompany him will have learned things from it.”, explains Nolwenn Germain. But sometimes it becomes tragic, as for this dead Tesla driver and these other 17 injured between 2018 and 2021, in accidents involving the “Autopilot”, Tesla’s autopilot system. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation last August.

It is not the only promise of Elon Musk that caught the eye of justice. In 2018, he claimed in a tweet that he had raised funds to repurchase all Tesla shares at $ 420 a share.

The lessons are panicked and the American financial markets police officer attacks him in court. He eventually finds out he lied, Bloomberg reports *: he did not have the money. He will justify this tweet, which shocked Wall Street, in an interview New York Times *, claiming that it has been exhausted due to the difficulties encountered by Tesla. Like Donald Trump, Elon Musk found a playground on Twitter where the consequences of his actions can overwhelm him.

For many critics, Elon Musk’s plans will not solve their problems either. Worse, they could create others. The first underground tunnel of The Boring Company, which is supposed to reduce traffic congestion, also experienced traffic congestion, according to the website Mashable *. And while the official website mentions emergency exits, it does not explain how the tunnel could be released in the event of an accident or flood.

The one who confirms Rolling rock * that climate change is “The greatest threat to humanity in this century” does not contradict: so it proposes solutions based on space colonization and individual vehicles … away from the sobriety proposed by the IPCC. His plans, however, are consistent with his definition of freedom, that is “the largest number of possible future actions”as he writes in Twitter.

This individualistic behavior is reflected in his relationships. Elon Musk often described as impulsive and variable. After his second divorce, he asked his biographer: “How much time a week should you spend with a woman?” refers The world. These problems of empathy are also manifested through its management. “In the SpaceX room, there is this poster: “If you do not come on Saturday, do not come back on Monday.”, says Jean-François Clervoy. The workaholic intends to apply his philosophy to all his employees, even if it means violating their rights: So Tesla was convicted of firing a trade unionist, New York Times*. The company has also been the target of complaints of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

By buying Twitter, Elon Musk will be immediately confronted with myriad new rules, different depending on the country and the platform. He will know “unblock” The “Huge potential” social network, such as wrote it*, while we respect them? “I do not have all the answershe told Rolling rock. I’m trying to find a set of actions (…) that are more likely to lead to a better future. If you have any suggestions for this, let me know. “ On one particular platform, millions of people have already answered the call.

* All links followed by an asterisk indicate content in English.


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