From Zip2 to Twitter, Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial fever

From the beginnings of the internet bubble to Tesla, passing through the SpaceX rockets and the artificial intelligence of Neuralink, a look back at the companies founded or swallowed up by Elon Musk in nearly 30 years.

1/ Zip2

In 1995, after leaving Stanford University, Elon Musk founded Zip2, his first company, alongside his brother Kimbal. He was then 24 years old. The internet bubble is booming. The young company then offers a business directory and maps in what could be described as the digital equivalent of the yellow pages. Zip2 also offers software solutions for the websites of American newspapers, such as the New York Times. In 1999, it was bought by Compaq for just over $300 million.

2/ PayPal

After selling Zip2 in 1999, Elon Musk founds an online bank, X.com. The company then merged with a software publisher, Confinity. The operation will lead to the creation of the famous online payment service PayPal.

In 2002, PayPal went public before being bought out a few months later by the online auction service eBay for 1.5 billion dollars. Musk, the main shareholder of PayPal, will receive 175 million in the operation. He was removed from his position as CEO in 2000 following disagreements with the management committee. In 2015, eBay withdrew from PayPal. The company now ranks 134th on the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest companies. by income.

3/ SpaceX

In 2002Musk embarks on a new epic: space exploration. He founded SpaceX, of which he is still CEO and chief engineer today. After three failed launches, the Falcon 1 rocket successfully entered orbit in 2008, a first for a private sector aircraft. A feat that opens the door from NASA to SpaceX. The private operator signs with the American space agency to carry out twelve flights to the International Space Station from 2012, after the retirement of the American space shuttle.

In 2020, SpaceX performs its first manned flightan essential step for the next stated objectives of the Moon and Mars.

4/ Tesla

Although founded in 2003, Musk will take the head of Tesla only in 2008, after having returned to the capital in 2004 as a majority investor and chairman of the management committee of the manufacturer of electric cars. Despite recurring fears about its ability to deliver the volumes of vehicles announcedTesla is gradually making a place for itself with, in turn, the Roadster then the models, S, X, 3 and Y.

Since going public in 2010, Tesla’s stock price has risen more than 23,000%. In the summer of 2020, Tesla becomes the world’s leading car maker by market valuation. The company is the sixth to reach a valuation of 1,000 billion dollars in American history.

5/ Hyperloop

In 2012, Musk enlists engineers from Tesla and SpaceX to design the hyperloop. The goal: propel capsules kept in levitation thanks to magnets at speeds that can theoretically exceed 1,000 km/h in tunnels emptied of their air, thus greatly reducing friction. Musk thus wishes to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco, for an estimated cost of 6 billion dollars, or even the city of New York to the American capital, Washington.

In 2017, Hyperloop carried out a first test in a tunnel in the desert, near Los Angeles. The device then reaches 112 km/h. The speed record for a hyperloop today is 463km/h.

6/ Open AI

End 2015the iconic Californian boss co-founds OpenAI, a group aimed at ensuring that advances in computing are beneficial to humanity. “Artificial intelligence will supplant human capabilities,” he predicts. The organization aims in particular to prevent companies or states that have very advanced artificial intelligence systems from having too much power and abusing it.

In 2018, Musk left the organization’s steering committee, while Tesla is increasingly involved in the development of artificial intelligence systems through its Autopilot self-driving program.

7/ Neuralink

In 2016Musk is on a mission to augment the human brain and co-founds Neuralink, a neurotech start-up. To facilitate the exchange of information between humans and machines, the company wants to implant a chip in the brain. The chip could for example increase the memory tenfold or allow the user to communicate with software, without going through a smartphone or a computer.

If Musk also talks about the possibility of treating patients with, for example, paralysis or blindness, these promises are denounced by some brain experts who call them “highly speculative“.

8/ The Boring Company

In 2016 Still, Musk founded The Boring Company (the boring businessIn french in the text), a company dedicated to the construction of tunnels. If its skills can be used for the establishment of the hyperloop system, The Boring Company has so far focused on tunnels within the cities themselves, and not between different cities. Musk, however, recently announced that The Boring Company would be tackling a hyperloop project. In the coming years.

Two tunnels are in service today in Las Vegasand another serves as a test site, in the Los Angeles area.

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From Zip2 to Twitter, Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial fever


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