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Elon’s Endeavours – Coming Full Circle to X.com

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Elon Musk

The richest man in the world, Elon Musk, is worth more than $200 billion. He amassed his massive fortune by founding and investing in several revolutionary companies that have brought many forward-thinking ideas to life. 

The American entrepreneur and investor, who was born on June 28, 1971, in South Africa and got a bachelor's degree in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania, is known for his passion, efforts, and eccentricity.

Since the mid-1990s, the 52-year-old billionaire has been involved in various projects across different industries, ranging from automobile, space, artificial intelligence (AI), and social media to aerospace, solar energy, and infrastructure.

He's actually leading many of these companies simultaneously. As for how he's doing this, back in 2018, Musk said he regularly worked 80 to 100 hours a week. “My days are very long and complicated… (and) the time management is extremely difficult,” as such, he divides his schedule “predominantly one company on one day.”

Musk's dynamic approach and his ventures in cutting-edge technologies have often drawn comparisons to Marvel's Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man, highlighting his role as a real-life visionary pushing the boundaries of innovation. 

Several of his companies are currently leading the way in their respective fields. So let's take a look at these organizations where he has played a major role in their success.

Zip2 

Musk began his journey by co-founding Zip2, an online business directory, which was basically an “internet version of the Yellow Pages” with maps included. 

The company received $28,000 in funding from Musk's father, which he denied and then later said his father provided about $20k as part of a later funding round. In 1996, Musk was removed as the CEO of the company, and in 1999, it was sold to Compaq Computer Corporation for $307 million. 

With Zip2, Musk's idea was that everyone must be able to find services, such as a pizza parlor near them, as well as how to get there at a time when computers were not yet ubiquitous. 

PayPal (formerly X.com)

PayPal officially came into existence when X.com was merged with Confinity in 2000. The online bank X.com was co-founded in 1999 by Musk, Christopher Payne, Harris Fricker, and Ed Ho, while the software company Confinity Inc. was co-founded by Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Luke Nosek.

PayPal is a multinational financial technology company that works as an electronic payment provider. The company allowed users to make payments to purchase goods or exchange money in a secure online transaction.

finviz dynamic chart for  PYPL

The company was started with $12 million and sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. In 2015, PayPal became an independent company. Today, it is a Fortune 500 company, worth $64.57 bln and has over 430 million active users.

Musk Foundation

In 2001, Musk founded and is the president of the Musk Foundation, which provides grants to support renewable energy research and advocacy, pediatric research, research and advocacy of human space, along with science and engineering education and the advancement of safe AI for the benefit of humanity.

In 2021, the Musk Foundation made one of its biggest-ever donations of $10 billion to a fertility and population research project in Texas. It was also the foundation's largest higher education program to “support research programs.” The project Population Wellbeing Initiative (PWI) projects that “humanity is four-fifths over” and, as such, is exploring fertility, the future of the population, and economic growth. 

Recently, it was also revealed that Musk donated $100 million to his charity to launch a STEM-focused primary and secondary school in Austin, Texas. His plans further include seeking accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for launching a university.

SpaceX

Founded in 2002 by Musk, the space transportation and satellite-based Internet service provider is a $150 billion private enterprise. Musk, who was involved with the nonprofit Mars Society before establishing the company, is the CEO, CTO, and chairman of SpaceX, while its day-to-day operations are handled by Gwynne Shotwell, who acts as SpaceX's president and chief operating officer.

SpaceX aims to reduce the cost of space exploration considerably in order to pave the way for developing a sustainable colony on Mars. 

The corporation is involved in the manufacturing of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles as well as rocket engines, Cargo Dragon, and Starlink communications satellites. The company, with more than 13,000 employees believes in the power of a reusable rocket and has reflown more than 180 of its rockets.

In Feb. 2023, for the first time, SpaceX made a tweet using a normal mobile phone with the help of its satellite services with no special equipment used in the middle. This comes just a month after the company sent its first text message via Starlink's Direct-to-Cell satellite in space. 

Recently, SpaceX announced that it plans to launch its Direct to Cell service for customers later this year. SpaceX, along with NASA, is also launching its next mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which will soon be launching four astronauts into orbit. 

Click here to learn how reusable rockets are changing the economics of space flight.

Tesla

One of the most valuable automotive companies with a market cap of $643.45 bln, Tesla (TSLA) designs, manufactures, and sells fully electric vehicles and storage systems. Originally, Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Musk invested $6.5 million in the company in 2004 to become its largest shareholder. A few years later, in 2008, Musk became Tesla's CEO and product architect. The Austin, Texas-headquartered Tesla employs over 100,000 people. 

The company's consumer vehicles include the Model Y, S, X, and 3, which are the best-selling plug-in electric cars worldwide, as well as Cybertruck. Meanwhile, its battery energy storage products include Powerpack, Megapack, Powerwall, and Solar Roof. The electric car manufacturer also holds over 9,720 Bitcoin on its balance sheet.                               

Musk is currently working on a new Roadster, which was Tesla's first car, that he says is on the way. The long-delayed Roadster is expected to be released next year. In collaboration with SpaceX, Tesla has ‘radically increased the design goals' for the new Roadster, which will allow it to do 0-60 mph in less than a second.

finviz dynamic chart for  TSLA

Over the years, Tesla has been subjected to various lawsuits and government scrutiny. However, despite the criticism, it remains the world's most valuable automaker. In the financial year 2023, the company reported revenue of $96.8 bln and net income of $15 bln, both up 19% from the previous year while the profit margin was 16%.

Click here to learn all about investing in Tesla stock (TSLA).

The Boring Company

This one is an infrastructure company that is involved in underground tunnel construction services. Founded by Musk in 2016, The Boring Company's mission is to solve the problem of traffic by creating fast-to-dig, low-cost, and safe transportation tunnels and enabling rapid point-to-point transportation to transform cities.

To start the company, Musk provided most of the funding, over $100 mln, which has ballooned since then with the Boring Company valued at $7 bln. The company has less than 200 employees.

The company built a 1.15-mile (1.85 kilometer) long research and development (R&D) tunnel in Hawthorne, California, to test loop and hyperloop systems. It also introduced a project at the Las Vegas Convention Center where two parallel tunnels measuring 1.7 miles long were created. These tunnels feature Tesla vehicles, and the company has offered flamethrowers to consumers as “promotional” items. Overall, the company's projects are in different stages of planning, discussion, and testing. 

Neuralink

Musk founded this medical device company in 2016, which produces implantable brain-machine interfaces (BCI). Back in 2021, Neuralink raised $205 million in private fundraising, and in 2023, it was valued at $5 billion.

The neurotechnology company is creating a BCI chip called N1, the size of a coin, which is implanted in the skull surgically with an eight-foot-tall robot called the R1 with extremely thin wires that go into the brain. The chip records neural activity through 1024 electrodes that are distributed across 64 threads and then transmits it via a Bluetooth connection.

In 2023, the San Francisco-based startup received FDA approval to test its brain chips in humans, and the same year, the company began recruiting volunteers with quadriplegia caused by ALS or cervical spinal cord injury. Recently, Musk announced that the company had achieved a big milestone: the first person to receive the brain chip has “made a full recovery, with no ill effects” and is now able to operate a computer mouse by using their thoughts. 

With Neuralink, the aim is to merge AI and human consciousness with Musk, revealing that Neuralink was “intended to address the existential risk associated with digital superintelligence.” Moreover, the idea is to enable people to overcome neurological disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. 

The company has received criticism from the community and investigation from regulators regarding the lack of transparency surrounding the implant, potential risks associated with brain surgery, experimentation of the brain chip on animals, and concerns regarding surveillance, cybersecurity, and privacy.

SolarCity

In 2016, Musk's cousins, brothers Peter, and Lyndon Rive, founded SolarCity at his suggestion. He also helped start the company by investing $10 million. In the same year, Musk's Tesla acquired the leading provider of solar panels in the US for $2.6 billion in stock. Now, years later, the automaker sells solar energy storage and generation products, including Solar Roof, Megapack, Powerwall, and Powerpack.

X (Formerly Twitter)

The popular social media service founded by Jack Dorsey in 2006 was purchased by Musk in 2022 for $44 billion, resulting in him taking over as the owner and CEO. In 2023, Musk stepped down as CEO of the company and is now leading Twitter, which he rebranded to X as Chairman and CTO.

Musk's goal for X has been to promote free speech and get rid of bots. Ever since the microblogging website's takeover, Musk has been busy revamping it, which started with taking the company private, then expanded to layoffs, scrapping the communications department, extending the character limit for tweets, and content moderation council, among other things.

X has also been investing in the creator community, with the company saying it has paid thousands of creators through its ad revenue-sharing program in less than a year. The company is also taking a video-first approach and has launched Immersive Video, which enables long-form video uploads. It reportedly has over 100 million daily users. 

In his recent plans for the social media platform, Musk said it will use AI to strengthen search and streamline overall customer experience. He also plans to launch peer-to-peer payments to create new opportunities for commerce. The idea, as Musk puts it, is to transform X into an “everything app.”

xAI

With AI mania taking over the world, Musk also jumped on the train and launched a rival to popular chatbot ChatGPT creator OpenAI. xAI was launched in 2023 and was announced via X with the goal of “understanding the true nature of the universe.” According to xAI's website, it will work closely with X and Tesla to accomplish its mission.

The company has about 12 employees, which includes former engineers and scientists of Microsoft Research, DeepMind, OpenAI, DeepMind, Tesla, and Google Research.

Media reports have suggested that xAI has been trying to raise several billion dollars in funding, though Musk has tweeted that he is not having any such conversations. The xAI pitch deck obtained by Bloomberg states that the company relies on OpenAI's success as a roadmap for xAI's growth trajectory and access to Musk, who is involved in several companies, as we have been noting in this article. 

So far, xAI has one product, an LLM called Grok, which can be accessed by paying $16 a month to X (Twitter). It uses X's data as real-time input, with the social media platform working on its Discover / Trends section to feature Grok's summaries.

OpenAI

Before founding a rival to OpenAI, Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI itself along with Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, Ilya Sutskever, and Wojciech Zaremba in 2015, investing $50 million in it. Besides Musk, the other co-founders also invested in the company, further attracting funding from notable figures such as Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, and Marc Andreessen.

A few years later, in 2018, Musk resigned from the board of the nonprofit research and development company. Then, in 2019, OpenAI received a $1 billion investment from Microsoft, which later bet another $10 bln on the company. This year, the AI firm was valued at about $80 billion. Altman is currently the CEO of OpenAI, whose idea has been to develop and promote friendly AI in a responsible way.

Therefore, it's evident that Musk has spearheaded numerous ventures, creating entities now valued at billions of dollars, all aimed at transforming the world.

Gaurav started trading cryptocurrencies in 2017 and has fallen in love with the crypto space ever since. His interest in everything crypto turned him into a writer specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Soon he found himself working with crypto companies and media outlets. He is also a big-time Batman fan.