Want to know where the future is going? Keep your eye on Elon Musk, a world-class entrepreneur with a strong Canadian connection. Born in South Africa, he lived and worked in Western Canada as a teen and later attended Queen’s University in Kingston before moving to the U.S., where he founded content company Zip2 — sold to Alta Vista in 1999 for $340 million. Then he joined the company that became PayPal — bought by Ebay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
Musk is currently CEO and CTO of SpaceX, which produces space launch vehicles to replace the aging space shuttles, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors which produces electric sportscars), and chairman of SolarCity,
But it hasn’t always been easy. In a recent video interview with Sarah Lacy of TechCrunch, he observed, “Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”
Musk confessed that December 2008 was one of the worst times of his life: SpaceX’s launch failed, Tesla’s funding fell through, and he was mired in a way-too-public divorce (from Canadian-born novelist Justine Musk). As Lacy writes, “It was a reminder for the audience that even those entrepreneurs who we think have it all are still flawed and still struggle.”
You can read about the interview here or scroll to the bottom of that page to watch the video. A few highlights:
Musk confirmed that being CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX is “beyond the fun point,” but says he intends to keep both jobs for now.
Musk says his next company will focus on electrically powered vertical-takeoff airplanes.
When Musk and partner Adeo Ressi (now running the Founder Institute, a mentoring program for technology entrepreneurs) started a nightclub while in college, Musk was the sober one who always dealt with the police when they came calling. “He was the biggest dork I’ve ever met,” Ressi said from the audience.
Musk hopes to be able to retire on Mars.
When it comes to Elon Musk, the word “visionary” just doesn’t seem enough