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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Debunking the myth of Elon Musk as ‘founder’ of various companies

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Elon Musk is, for many, a living myth. His original point of view on technology and business, as well as his ability to revolutionize all the industries in which he has been involved as a businessman have made him a kind of King Midas of the 21st century who turns everything he touches into gold.

The real-life so-called Tony Stark is often praised as the father of companies that have set – and continue to set – the pace at which technology is developed. 

Among his most successful creations would be PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity Neuralink, and The Boring Company.

However, in reality, Elon Musk has only been the ‘founder’ of three of these companies. 

Here we will tell you what they are.

Elon Musk and PayPal

PayPal is the company with which Musk began to forge the wonder boy halo that accompanies him today. However, this popular online payment system did not come, as many believe, from the prolific brain of the then young South African.

PayPal, originally named Confinity, was founded in December 1998 by Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, and Luke Nosek. The company’s initial goal was to develop security software for electronic devices. However, it was unsuccessful in that niche and shifted its focus to digital payments. The first version of its electronic payment system was launched in 1999.

By then Elon Musk was CEO of x.com, an online bank that he had founded with Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne and Ed Ho in March of that same year.

Musk’s company saw the enormous potential Confinity had and in 2000 bought it. 

x.com decided to focus its entire business on the Confinity payment system and in 2001 renamed it PayPal.

In 2002, PayPal was bought by Ebay for about $ 1.5 billion and Elon Musk, the company’s largest shareholder, took his first $ 100 million.

Elon Musk and Tesla

Another of the feats attributed to Musk is the creation of Tesla, the company that bet on developing and popularizing electric cars when no one was talking about them.

However, in 2004, when Musk’s name was first associated with Tesla, the company was already a year old. Its original creators were Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Musk participated in the company’s first round of financing and in the development of the first model, the Roadster. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he took the role of CEO.

Following a series of internal conflicts that resulted in a legal settlement in 2009, Elon Musk was given the title of a co-founder of Tesla, which remains a topic of debate despite the strong association that formed between Musk’s name and the company.

Elon Musk and SpaceX

If there is a company in which Elon Musk deserves the title of founder, it is SpaceX. The one who is now one of the richest men in the world was about to lose all the money he made from the sale of PayPal to finance his dream of taking a human being to Mars.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., popularly known as SpaceX, was founded by Musk in May 2002. Since then, he has served as CEO and chief engineer.

After a dramatic first few years, SpaceX today leads the private space transportation industry and has become NASA’s partner of choice. Musk and his boys have already accomplished the incredible feat of putting two astronauts into orbit and developing reusable rockets.

Elon Musk and SolarCity

SolarCity, the company that seeks to expand the generation and consumption of solar energy, was founded in 2006 by Peter and Lyndon Rive, cousins ​​of Elon Musk. 

And although the billionaire was the father of the idea and participated in the initial financing of the company, it was not until 2016 that SolarCity was acquired by Tesla and renamed Tesla Energy.

Elon Musk and Neuralink

Elon Musk’s ambitions are not limited to changing the global energy consumption model and becoming a multi-planet species. The charismatic entrepreneur also wants to ‘update’ the human brain as if it were an operating system.

With that goal in mind, Musk and eight other experts founded Neuralink in 2016, a startup that aims to create the technology necessary to connect the human brain with artificial intelligence and computers.

According to Musk, Neuralink products could also help cure diseases such as paralysis, deafness, and blindness, among others. However, his claims have been criticized by many neuroscientists.

Elon Musk and The Boring Company

The year 2016 was prolific for Elon Musk. In addition to acquiring SolarCity and founding Neuralink, the billionaire also founded The Boring Company to build underground tunnels that help reduce congestion in cities.

The company was initially created as a subsidiary of SpaceX but became a separate entity in 2018. By December of that year, Elon Musk owned 90% of the shares and another 6% was held by SpaceX.

So far the company has built two tunnels in Las Vegas, one in Los Angeles, and is negotiating the construction of others in several cities.

In short, we could say that although Elon Musk has founded or co-founded several companies throughout his mythical career as an entrepreneur, perhaps his greatest merit is that he had the vision to ‘get on’ in time two trains that were already underway and that loomed a very promising future, as was the case with PayPal and Tesla.

Without these two companies, it is very likely that SpaceX and the myth of Elon Musk would not exist.

Photo by Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

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