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Twitter, SpaceX, Tesla… Elon Musk, the entrepreneur and innovator who knows no bounds

“How much does it cost ?” We are in 2017 and beyond Twitter, Elon Musk wonders about the price of the social network that he loves. Five years later, the 50-year-old billionaire knows the answer: he announced on Monday, April 25, that he would pay $44 billion to r.buy 100% of the shares. After the stars (SpaceX), transport (Tesla, Hyperloop), infrastructure (The Boring Company), science (Neurolink) or cryptocurrencies, the man with a fortune estimated at 219 billion dollars (208 billion euros), according to Forbes, is therefore further expanding his empire . On “a whim”argues the author Elon Musk: the entrepreneur who will change the world (Eyrolles, 2017), Ashlee Vance, in Politico*.

“He usually follows his gut, for better or for worse. It works out pretty well for him overall.”portrays his biographer calling the billionaire “biggest risk taker in the world”. Nothing would be impossible in his eyes? Born June 28, 1971 in Pretoria (South Africa), son of a model and an engineer, grandson of an adventurer, Elon Musk lived in a wealthy environment without barriers. “My father used to say, ‘Live dangerously … be careful.’ He added: ‘There’s nothing a Haldeman can’t do.’ That’s what I’ve always believed, and I’ve probably shown it to my kids. Now it’s, ‘There’s nothing a musk can’t do.'”writes his mother, Maye Musk, in her memoirs A woman makes a plan (PenguinLife, 2019).

Elon Musk was 18 when he flew to Canada with $2,500 in his pocket when he tweeted. From Canada, he crosses the border and joins the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia (USA), to study economics and physics, reports The World (Paid Article). But he rather sees the West Coast and Silicon Valley, the epicenter of “technology” and innovation. The ideal place for those who profess Challenges (paid item) : “I wouldn’t have that never been able to create anywhere else what I did here.”

In California, he made a fortune thanks to the Internet. He founded an online library (Zip2) and a bank (X.com) which will lead to Paypal. In 2002, after eBay bought the payment service for $1.5 billion, Elon Musk hit the jackpot: $180 million. His fortune is earned. He then set about conquering space with the ambition to revolutionize everything. During a 2005 space show, he confidently declared to Arianespace, ILS and Sea Launch executives: “In five years you’ll all be dead.” His company Space X was then 3 years old. “Everybody laughed in his face, and today nobody laughs anymore”, notes astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, connoisseur of the sector, who has carried out three flights in space for NASA. Even if his prediction didn’t quite come true.

Elon Musk lost almost everything several times before dethroning Jeff Bezos on the list of the richest men in the world: the first three SpaceX flights exploded, Tesla did not produce cars for two years, and its bankruptcy was repeatedly announced. “Entrepreneurship is a huge roller coaster, you can’t go all the way up without having gone all the way down”, analyzes Jade Le Maître, robotics entrepreneur.

For Tesla, which he invested in in 2006, Elon Musk got wet and told Business Insider* that he sometimes slept in his office. He doesn’t forget to say “thank you”. “Daimler invested $50 million in May 2009, which saved us. Without her, it would have been over.”, he reminds his shareholders in 2016. For SpaceX, he could count on NASA, while the US government would save the costs of travel to the International Space Station (ISS). In December 2008, on the back of a first successful launch by SpaceX a little earlier in the year, NASA allocated $1.6 billion to carry out twelve flights to the ISS.

“I’m incredibly thankful to NASA for supporting SpaceX when my rockets crashed. I’m NASA’s biggest fan”, thanks Elon Musk at the 2016 World Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara (Mexico). Coincidence or real know-how to create and seize opportunities? “In my opinion, you cannot reach your level without having succeeded in creating bonds of trust with the right people who allow you to realize your projects”, answers Nolwenn Germain, director of a consulting firm within innovation and marketing.

“Elon Musk likes to ‘disrupt’ the world, we have to recognize that he manages to take the crowds with him and that not everyone can do it, he knows how to make us dream.”

Nolwenn Germain, director of an innovation and marketing consultancy

at france info

Today, Tesla is posting record profits of $5.5 billion in 2021, and Space X has signed an exclusive $2.9 billion deal with NASA to send American astronauts to the moon.

But the return to reality can shatter some dreams, like this window of Tesla’s Cybertruck, presented as unbreakable by Elon Musk, yet shattered by a steel ball.

Because the billionaire tends to promise very, very early. At the risk of distorting reality. Hyperloop, this super-fast public transportation project in an unpressurized tube? The first section designed near Los Angeles would cost at least ten times more than estimates given by Elon Musk in 2013, according to Forbes*. Neuralink, his human-machine interface project implanted in the brain? The company never explained how the system could cure the listed ailments, from depression to insomnia.

“He is someone who can afford to have whims, even if some encounter an impossible realization.”

Jade Le Maître, general manager of a company specializing in robotics

at france info

This is nothing compared to its ultimate ambition: “create a self-sufficient city on Mars” and “allow humanity to become a space civilization”he explained Time*. A project that has many obstacles ahead of it. “It’s not crazy in concept, says Jean-François Clervoy, but at the level of the calendar it is completely. He promised in 2017 that he could send 40 people to Mars aboard the Starship by 2024. His ship may be able to do this in the next few years, but other human factors will take much longer to master.”

This magnificence is also one of the reasons for its success. “He’s stuck in a gear. If he doesn’t announce a new project or a new innovation every two or three months, he loses credibility”, says Jade Le Maître. And if they don’t work, it doesn’t matter: “If it doesn’t work, he and all the people who accompany him will have learned something from it”, explains Nolwenn Germain. But sometimes it turns tragic, as with this dead Tesla driver and these 17 others injured between 2018 and 2021 in accidents involving “Autopilot,” Tesla’s automatic pilot system. The US Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) launched an investigation last August.

It is not Elon Musk’s only promise that has caught the eye of justice. In 2018, he claimed in a tweet that he had raised the funds to buy back all of Tesla’s stock at a price of $420 per share.

Stocks panic, and the policeman of the US financial markets attacks it in justice. He ultimately decides he lied, reports Bloomberg*: he didn’t have the funds. He will justify this tweet, which shook Wall Street, in an interview with New York Times*, who claims to be exhausted by the difficulties Tesla is encountering. Like Donald Trump, Elon Musk has found a playground on Twitter where the consequences of his actions can overwhelm him.

For many critics, Elon Musk’s plans also won’t solve the problems they target. Worse, they could create others. The first underground tunnel by The Boring Company, which was supposed to reduce traffic jams, also experienced its traffic jams, as noted by the website Mashable*. And while the official website mentions emergency exits, it doesn’t explain how the tunnel could be freed in the event of an accident or flood.

He who affirms i Rolling stones* that climate change is “the greatest threat facing humanity this century” is not a contradiction in terms: he therefore proposes solutions based on space colonization and individual vehicles… far from the sobriety recommended by the IPCC. However, his plans are consistent with his definition of freedom, viz “the greatest number of possible future actions”as he writes further Twitter.

This individualistic behavior is reflected in his relationships. Elon Musk often described as impulsive and changeable. After his second divorce, he asked his biographer: “How much time a week should you devote to a woman?”, quoted The world. These empathy issues are also expressed through his leadership. “In the hall at SpaceX there is this poster: ‘If you don’t come on Saturday, don’t come back on Monday'”, reports Jean-François Clervoy. The workaholic intends to apply his philosophy to all his employees, even if it means violating their rights: Tesla was thus convicted of firing a union employee, reports New York Times*. The company has also been hit by complaints of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.

By buying Twitter, Elon Musk will be directly confronted with a myriad of new rules, different depending on the country and the application stores (App Store, Google Play Store. Will he know “Unblock” that “enormous potential” social networks, which he wrote it* while respecting them? “I don’t have all the answershe said to Rolling stones. I try to find a set of actions (…) that are more likely to lead to a better future. If you have any suggestions for this, please let me know.” On a particular platform, millions of people have already answered the call.

* All links followed by an asterisk point to content in English.

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