Elon Musk: Tech visionary turns social media king

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Sometimes it feels prefer it’s Elon Musk’s world and we simply stay in it.

The endlessly modern, endlessly eccentric billionaire has struck a deal to purchase Twitter – giving him management of the social media community on which the world debates, mobilises and bickers.

It is simply the most recent conquest for Musk, who has revolutionised the automotive trade, despatched his personal rocket to house, constructed the world’s greatest fortune – and created fountains of ethical outrage and celeb gossip alongside the way in which.

Musk, 50, final 12 months grew to become the world’s richest particular person – taking the title from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – following the meteoric rise of Tesla, his electrical automaker based in 2003.

His takeover of Twitter caps a curler coaster of bulletins and counter-announcements – which he characteristically punctuated by gleefully firing jabs on the firm by itself platform.

And Musk’s new guise as a social media overlord will gas controversy over his political opinions, enterprise strategies and outsized character.

He is libertarian, anti-woke, impulsive and promotes himself as a champion of free speech. Some would name him right-wing, whereas his critics accuse him of being autocratic and bullying.

All this has are available in a month through which Musk additionally made headlines with Tesla opening a “gigafactory” in Texas, after the corporate left California following a dispute over his efforts to defy a state shutdown of his plant to cease the unfold of Covid-19.

And there’s extra – his house transport agency SpaceX is at the moment breaking yet one more boundary as a companion in a three-way enterprise that despatched the primary absolutely non-public mission to the International Space Station.

But Musk additionally makes information of a much less flattering sort: Tesla has confronted a sequence of lawsuits alleging discrimination and harassment towards Black staff in addition to sexual harassment.

In parallel with the whiplash-inducing stream of enterprise information, Musk’s penchant for residing by his personal guidelines within the non-public sphere additionally retains the world wide-eyed.

It not too long ago emerged Musk has had a second little one together with his on-again off-again companion, the musician Grimes: a lady they named Exa Dark SiderØl Musk – though the mother and father will principally name her Y.

He is even anticipated to make an look – in particular person or not – on the ongoing celeb defamation trial pitting Johnny Depp towards his ex-wife Amber Heard, who previously dated Musk.

One method or one other, Musk has develop into some of the ubiquitous figures of the period. So how did he get to the place he’s at present?

To Mars… and past?

Born in Pretoria, on June 28, 1971, the son of an engineer father and a Canadian-born mannequin mom, Musk left South Africa in his late teenagers to attend Queen’s University in Ontario.

He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania after two years and earned bachelor’s levels in physics and enterprise.

After graduating from the distinguished Ivy League college, Musk deserted plans to check at Stanford University.

Instead, he dropped out and began Zip2, an organization that made on-line publishing software program for the media trade.

He banked his first tens of millions earlier than the age of 30 when he offered Zip2 to US laptop maker Compaq for greater than US$300 million (S$411 million) in 1999.

Musk’s subsequent firm, X.com, ultimately merged with PayPal, the net funds agency purchased by Internet public sale big eBay for US$1.5 billion in 2002.

After leaving PayPal, Musk launched into a sequence of ever extra formidable ventures.

He based SpaceX in 2002 – now serving as its chief govt officer and chief know-how officer – and have become the chairman of electrical automotive maker Tesla in 2004.

After some early crashes and near-misses, SpaceX perfected the artwork of touchdown booster engines on strong floor and ocean platforms, rendering them reusable, and late final 12 months despatched 4 vacationers into house, on the primary ever orbital mission with no skilled astronauts on board.

Musk’s jokingly-named The Boring Company is touting an ultra-fast “Hyperloop” rail transport system that might transport individuals at close to supersonic speeds.

And he has stated he desires to make people an “interplanetary species” by establishing a colony of individuals residing on Mars.

To this finish, SpaceX is creating a prototype rocket, Starship, which it envisages carrying crew and cargo to the Moon, Mars and past – with Musk saying he feels “confident” of an orbital take a look at this 12 months.

Musk, who holds US, Canadian and South African citizenship, has been married and divorced 3 times – as soon as to the Canadian writer Justine Wilson and twice to actress Talulah Riley. He has seven youngsters. An eighth little one died in infancy.

Forbes estimates his present web price at US$266 billion.

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