Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa. Musk taught himself computer programming at age 10 years old. At age 12, he made his first software sale which was a game he created called Blaster. In 1992, Elon attended University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in Economics and a second bachelor degree in Physics (Bio, 2015).
In the summer of 1995, Elon Musk decided to further his studies in Applied Physics and Material Science at Stanford University. However, after two days he withdrawn from graduate school and teamed up with his brother Kimbal Musk to pursue some of his business ideas. Musk first company was Zip 2. Zip 2 was a web software company that provided business directories and maps to media companies and local e-commerce merchants (Astrum People, 2015).
At that time, internet was becoming very popular which it was experiencing a period of rapid growth and development. So in 1999, Elon Musk became a multimillionaire when he sold Zip 2 to Compaq computers for $307 million in cash and $34 million in securities (Astrum People, 2015).
A very ambitious entrepreneur, also in 1999, Musk was one of the co-founder of X.com which is now known today as PayPal. PayPal is an electronic payment system that was gaining popularity, so in 2002, eBay acquired $1.5 billion in stock. Elon Musk owned about 12 percent of PayPal stock before the sale, which he received $180 million for his share (Bio, 2015).
After the sale of PayPal, Musk did not stop there. In 2002, Musk founded his third company, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or Space X. His envision for Space X was to build spacecraft for commercial space travel. In my opinion, the business-level strategy that Musk incorporated into Space X is the differentiation strategy. Musk wanted to offer something unique that NASA did not possess in their spacecraft and services to astronauts and future customer. In addition, Musk wanted customers to have the opportunity to travel in space at an affordable price. Space X first three launches had failed but the fourth launch succeeded. In 2012, Space X was the first private company to send a cargo load to the International Space Station (Bio, 2015).
In my opinion, Elon Musk corporate level strategy he pursued was unrelated diversification. Musk future-minded thinking was not only into space engineering but also into alternative energy sources. So in 2004, he joined and supported the business in Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors was founded by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. Musk contributed $70 million in Tesla to start up which he became the chairman of the board of directors. Musk goal was to design a vehicle that was energy efficient and used renewable sources. The first electric car was born, the Tesla Roadster, which Musk won a Global Green award in 2006 for Tesla Roadster product design. The Tesla Roadster did not come out until 2008. The materials used to design the car consist of lithium ion battery and carbon fiber composite materials to minimize the weight. The car is operated by battery opposed to the usage of gasoline (Astrum People, 2015). This was a social responsible move by Musk which he created a vehicle that will not pollute the planet with exhaust fumes (Jones & George, 2016, p. 114).
The release of Tesla Roadster had some setbacks which took longer than expected, Musk experienced a crisis with his management and staff which he fired everyone who delayed the project’s development, including Eberhard and a few others that were involved. Not only was Musk reducing staff, he was also cutting cost by demanding lower prices from suppliers and closing some of the offices. The few disappointments that Musk experienced did not stop him from producing more electric cars which was half the price as the first vehicle. In the near future, Musk will design electric cars that an average consumer can afford (Astrum, 2015).
In an article written by Kyle Alspach, he wrote Musk is a demanding leader which very few of his employees are willing to disagree with him. Those who disagree with him often do not stay long (Kyle Alspach, 2015). Musk wanted his employees to work 80-100 hours a week. Musk quoted “Work like hell. I mean you just have to put in 80-100 hours weeks. This improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you’re putting in 100 hours work weeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing you know that…you will achieve in 4 months what it takes them a year to achieve.” Musk is goal oriented and mission driven which he prefers “special forces” working for him not normal people (Kissmetrics, 2015).
In conclusion, Elon Musk is a very successful entrepreneur who is highly determined, passionate, confident, and creative with innovative ideas that can help change the world for the better. Musk visualized what he wanted to create and he pursued it. However, the business world was not prepared with some of his futuristic ideas which a few hurdles did not prevent him from inventing electric cars and spacecraft for everyone to have the opportunity to experience traveling in space. His aspirations and visions can be the next trendsetter in “Going Green.” Throughout his success and failures with the few businesses he owns and oversees, he still manages to stay focus and pursue his ideas no matter how unreasonable they may sound. He is a brilliant innovator with more ideas up his sleeves.
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