Elon Musk - The man behind PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla
WRITTEN BY CHRISTOPHER DAVIES
You will be hard pushed to find a CV which is as impressive as Elon Musk’s. The engineer, businessman and philanthropist only turned 40 this year, however he has already been involved in several industries and companies amassing an estimated net worth of $672 million in the process.
Born and raised in South Africa, it didn't take long for Musk to take influence from his father the engineer to become a serial entrepreneur. At the tender age of 10, he bought his first computer and taught himself how to program software, By the age of 12, he had already sold his first piece of commercial software, a space game called Blaster.
After attending Pretoria Boys High School, Musk left home to avoid military service in the then apartheid South African military. Even though he once said "I'm very much pro-military when it is in the service of good,” the army's ideology did not fit in with his own and so he moved to Canada before receiving a scholarship to study Business and Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequent to earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and a bachelor's degree in Physics, Musk then decided to concentrate on three areas – the internet, clean energy and space.
Initially going into business with his brother Kimbal, Elon established Zip2, a company which provided online content publishing software for news agencies. Fully capitalising on the dot-com boom at the time, the company was sold to Compaq's AltaVista division in 1999 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options.
However, this clearly didn't fulfil Musk's desire to conquer the internet and in the same year, he founded X.com, an online financial services and e-payment company, which later merged with a similar company called Confinity. The two then became known as PayPal. Just over three years after inception, with Musk the company's largest shareholder owning 11.7 percent of the business, PayPal was acquired by the world's largest online auction site eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion in stock.
With the internet seemingly covered, Musk went into stratospheric exploration by founding his third company SpaceX, a business primarily concerned with manufacturing low-cost yet reliable launch vehicles. Musk's main objectives with SpaceX were to develop affordable, feasible and reusable orbital rockets, explore the possibility of life beyond Earth, and capitalise on the emerging market for private and commercial space travel. However, the company's biggest success to date is arguably receiving $1.6 billion in funding from NASA to deliver and return cargo to the International Space Station now that the US agency's Shuttle programme has ended.
Next on the agenda came clean energy with Musk's most well-known project to date, Tesla Motors. Co-founder and head of product design, Musk has overseen development of the Roadster, the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production electric vehicle with a range greater than 200 miles per charge. With vehicles popular among Hollywood's elite, Tesla launched its initial public offering on NASDAQ in 2010, raising $226 million in the process.
Other projects for Musk include SolarCity, a photovoltaic start-up, and Halcyon Molecular, a biotechnology company. Aside from these business ventures, Musk also supports various charities including his own Musk Foundation, and has gone on to win numerous awards and accolades. Musk therefore simply has to be considered as one of South Africa's most significant sons in modern times.
African Business Review is now available on the iPad. Click here to download it.
G7 Summit guide: What it is and what leaders hope to achieve
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll have seen the term ‘G7’ plastered all over the Internet this week. We’re going to give you the skinny on exactly what the G7 is and what its purpose on this planet is ─ and whether it’s a good or a bad collaboration.
Who are the G7?
The Group of Seven, or ‘G7’, may sound like a collective of pirate lords from a certain Disney smash-hit, but in reality, it’s a group of the world’s seven largest “advanced” economies ─ the powerhouses of the world, if you like.
The merry band comprises:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
Historically, Russia was a member of the then-called ‘G8’ but found itself excluded after their ever-so-slightly illegal takeover of Crimea back in 2014.
Since 1977, the European Union has also been involved in some capacity with the G7 Summit. The Union is not recognised as an official member, but gradually, as with all Europe-linked affairs, the Union has integrated itself into the conversation and is now included in all political discussions on the annual summit agenda.
When was the ‘G’ formed?
Back in 1975, when the world was reeling from its very first oil shock and the subsequent financial fallout that came with it, the heads of state and government from six of the leading industrial countries had a face-to-face meeting at the Chateau de Rambouillet to discuss the global economy, its trajectory, and what they could do to address the economic turmoil that reared its ugly head throughout the 70s.
Why does the G7 exist?
At this very first summit ─ the ‘G6’ summit ─, the leaders adopted a 15-point communiqué, the Declaration of Rambouillet, and agreed to continuously meet once a year moving forward to address the problems of the day, with a rotating Presidency. One year later, Canada was welcomed into the fold, and the ‘G6’ became seven and has remained so ever since ─ Russia’s inclusion and exclusion not counted.
The group, as previously mentioned, was born in the looming shadow of a financial crisis, but its purpose is more significant than just economics. When leaders from the group meet, they discuss and exchange ideas on a broad range of issues, including injustice around the world, geopolitical matters, security, and sustainability.
It’s worth noting that, while the G7 may be made up of mighty nations, the bloc is an informal one. So, although it is considered an important annual event, declarations made during the summit are not legally binding. That said, they are still very influential and worth taking note of because it indicates the ambitions and outlines the initiatives of these particularly prominent leading nations.
Where is the 2021 G7 summit?
This year, the summit will be held in the United Kingdom deep in the southwest of England, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosting his contemporaries in the quaint Cornish resort of Carbis Bay near St Ives in Cornwall.
What will be discussed this year?
After almost two years of remote communication, this will be the first in-person G7 summit since the novel Coronavirus first took hold of the globe, and Britain wants “leaders to seize the opportunity to build back better from coronavirus, uniting to make the future fairer, greener, and more prosperous.”
The three-day summit, running from Friday to Sunday, will see the seven leaders discussing a whole host of shared challenges, ranging from the pandemic and vaccine development and distribution to the ongoing global fight against climate change through the implementation of sustainable norms and values.
According to the UK government, the attendees will also be taking a look at “ensuring that people everywhere can benefit from open trade, technological change, and scientific discovery.”