Elon Musk’s story is known . After founding one of the first fintech companies under the name X.com, which would end up forming PayPal, and later selling it, he began a creation of companies that are now known to all. He founded SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla in 2003. In 2016, he founded Neuralink and, a year later, created The Boring Company.
What is not so well known were his beginnings until then, when as a 17-year-old he changed his native South Africa for Canada and combined some jobs with which to get ahead.
Musk came to Canada, where he was easily naturalized thanks to the fact that his mother, Maye, was born there, and lived with his cousin, with whom he began working on the family farm. All this initial intrahistory of the now tycoon is told in the book ‘Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future’, by Ashlee Vance.
From cleaning boiler rooms to founding your first online business
The book recounts that Musk left South Africa in part to avoid conscription, which he viewed as a waste of time. But that decision made his father refuse to pay him for college.
His cousin’s farm was in a town of just 400 inhabitants in the central province of Saskatchewan. At the time, Musk tweeted a picture of him aged 17 at the family farm.
After a while, and in an effort to make money, Musk asked the local employment office what jobs were the best paying , which was cleaning the boiler room of a sawmill. And he took the job.
For $ 18 an hour, Musk tells in the bio that he had to “put on this hazmat suit and then get into this little tunnel that you barely fit in. Then you have to shovel, and you get the sand and goo and other debris, which is still smoking, and you have to take it out through the same hole that you entered. “
Thirty people started earlier in the week with Musk, according to the book. By the third day, there were five people left. At the end of the week, Musk was left with just two more people as partners to get the job done.
Musk ended up leaving manual labor and turning to technology. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Economics and Physics in May 1997 and then considered attending Stanford University in California for further training, but never did.
Zip2, Musk’s first company
It was the late 1990s and he moved to Silicon Valley to apply for a job at Netscape , the download program that at the time put the music industry in check.
Musk didn’t get the job at Netscape. “I actually tried hanging out in [Netscape’s] lobby, but I was too shy to talk to anyone. So I just stood in the lobby,” he said. “It was quite embarrassing,” the book picks up.
Despite Musk’s unhappy beginnings in the professional world, his life there is a change that is not much affected and in 1999 he sold his first company, Zip2, to Compaq for about $ 300 million . Zip2 was a software that provided local guides for newspapers on the Internet, initially founded with the help and financial input of his brother Kimbal and investors from Silicon Valley.
He used the money from the sale of Zip2 to found X.com, the online financial services platform that merged with Confinity in 2000 to eventually give rise to PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $ 1.5 billion, and with that money, in turn, started Tesla and SpaceX.