Home Science & Tech The incredible life of the millionaire who launched the most powerful rocket

The incredible life of the millionaire who launched the most powerful rocket

Elon Musk suffered bullying, had to work as a worker and sleep in his office.

He jumped to the local South African fame in 1984, when he was 12 years old, for having designed a video game called Blastar. Photo: TIME file

The ingenious South African has become a kind of Tony Stark (IronMan) in real life. He is the owner and soul of three of the most admired companies of our times: SpaceX, which launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, earlier this month; Tesla Motors, which leads the electric car market, and SolarCity, another giant in the solar energy market.

Forbes magazine today calculates its fortune in more than 21 billion dollars, and although in the list of 2017 it appeared with a smaller figure (in the 80th position among the richest men in the world), this year it could hit a jump and become in one of the 30 greatest riches.

However, it was not always so. Musk had a sad and lonely childhood in South Africa, and as a child, his parents separated, so he decided to go live with his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship.

As writer Ashlee Vance relates in his biography, at school he was a permanent victim of harassment. One day, a group of stalkers threw him to the ground and Musk rolled down the stairs of the school. The boys kicked him in the head and in the side, and he lost consciousness. Then, he had to have an operation on his nose because of the consequences of that beating.

He was reserved and had no close friends at school. He jumped to the local South African fame in 1984, When I was 12 years old (born in 1971), for having designed a video game called Blastar. He had a reputation as a nerd and as an addict of computer games. 

To flee from military service, in times of South African apartheid, and to get closer to his dream of living in the United States, he decided to abandon everything and move to Canada, with a suitcase and a phone book of relatives of his who lived there. The trip was precipitated, and he did not take the trouble to find out about his uncle from Montreal: upon arrival, he was informed that he had moved to Minnesota, just 1,800 kilometers to the west.

He had to live in a youth hostel and then wander through half of Canada until he reached ‘fingering’ the house of a second cousin. During the following year, he had temporary jobs in different cities: he was a worker in vegetable gardens, in barns, in sawmills and even cleaning boilers, at extreme temperatures. 

With these works, he gathered enough to travel to the United States, after obtaining a scholarship to study in Pennsylvania. There began another story: that of entrepreneurship. As soon as he finished college, he founded a company called Zip2, a company related to the world of maps and georeferencing.

He had so little capital that he and his brother had to live for three months in the small office they rented.He worked all day and night, but only four years later, his company was bought by Compaq for 307 million dollars.

He had to live in a youth hostel and then wander through half of Canada until he reached ‘fingering’ a second cousin’s house

With $ 22 million left over from that transaction, he created a new business that was the seed of PayPal, the online transactions company that in 2002 was bought by eBay at $ 1.5 billion: he was already a multimillionaire by then.

Instead of squandering them, he invested heavily in less successful industries at the beginning of this century: space rockets, electric cars, and solar energy. Thus, he invested one hundred million in SpaceX, 70 in Tesla and 10 in SolarCity.

The results gave him the reason almost ten years later since each company has carved its name in letters of mold, in their respective markets.

With equal success, Musk has moved in his sentimental life, and the magazines of the heart see him as one of the most sought-after men. Among the famous women with whom he has been related were the actresses Amber Heard (ex-partner of Johnny Depp), Cameron Diaz and Talulah Riley (whom he married twice), in addition to his first wife, the writer Justine Wilson.

They also talk of the press pink celebrations in a big way: for his 30th birthday, he rented a castle in England for about 20 people and from 2 am to 6 am played a variant of the game of hiding and seek.

Vance relates that during one of his last birthdays, Musk invited fifty people to a castle in Tarrytown, New York, to a theme party on retro-futurism, inspired by Japan. He introduced himself as a samurai. At the party, there was a Victorian play but set in Japan. Then, in the castle, Musk was given balloons between his legs and in his hands for a knife-throwing act, and then he fought against the sumo world

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