September 26, 2012

Elon Musk is re-inventing the space and auto industry

I believe that each generation has its own visionary entrepreneur. The last one was Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs did not forecast the future, he created the future with awesome products. Since Steve Jobs is not with us anymore, I believe that the next visionary entrepreneur is Elon Musk.

Elon Musk is not yet famous among the broad public, but neither was Steve Jobs when he was young. Steve Jobs re-invented the computer, the phone, and the movie industry, while Elon Musk is about to re-invent the way we travel. But comparing Elong Musk with Steve Jobs is not enough. Many people have described him as a combination of Steve Jobs, John D. Rockefeller, and Howard Hughes. But not God himself, because Elon Musk is not a religious man even though Elon is Jewish for oak tree

Elon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971. While still a boy, he enjoyed creating homemade explosives and rockets, perhaps dreaming of that he one day could build real rockets. At age 15, he decided to move to Canada. Originally he wanted to move to the US, but because of the restricted immigration laws, he had to move to Canada where is mother was born. He worked at various low-paying jobs before he received degrees in economics and physics. Elon Musk had several larger ideas he wanted to realize, but he did not have enough money. To make enough money, he decided to become an entrepreneur.

The first larger company was Zip2 which he created in 1995, and later sold to Compaq Computer for $300 million. He took those money and invested them in PayPal, until PayPal was acquired by EBay. Elon Musk made 180 million from the PayPal adventure. Now he had enough money to realize his larger ideas.

Idea 1. Re-invent the car
Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 and currently sells three different models of electric cars: Roadster, Model S, and Model X. The company recently revealed a plan to build a "Supercharger network" that will cover the US in two years. This network is where you can fill up your Tesla car with electricity. They promise that it will take 30 minutes to charge the car, and from the charge you will be able to drive for 3 hours. All the electricity to this network will come from solar panels delivered by SolarCity - another project by Elon Musk. If you have a Model S, you will fill it up for free at the stations.

Model S. Source: Tesla Motors

Idea 2. Re-invent space travelling
Space Exploration Technologies - or SpaceX - managed this year to launch 227-foot-tall rocket (69 meters), and docking a capsule with the International Space Station. The company itself was founded in 2002 and the long term plan is to revolutionize space transportation by building reuasble launch rockets and ultimately make it possible for people to live on other planets. The goal is to launch a space-craft to Mars in 10-15 years.

Idea 3. Create a fifth way of travelling 
Humans used to travel by boat, plane, car, or train. Elon Musk has found a fifth way to travel. The name of this fifth mode of transportation is "Hyperloop". The Hyperloop will take you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes. The cost of building a high-speed train on that route will cost $60 billion, but Elon Musk says that you can build the Hyperloop for only $6 billion. Elon Musk said:
"What you want is something that never crashes, that’s at least twice as fast as a plane, that’s solar powered and that leaves right when you arrive, so there is no waiting for a specific departure time."

Idea 4, 5, 6, ..., ∞
Elon Musk revealed in an interview that he has more ideas than time to realize those ideas. One of these other ideas is to build a new type of electric supersonic commercial aircraft, another one is a fusion reactor, and a third one is to improve the capacity of highways with much traffic.

Source: Engadget, Bloomberg