It hit: With Twitter, Elon Musk incorporated the next company, against clear resistance. This is precisely where the key to the success of his corporate universe lies.
There are several ways to deal with setbacks: some people give up, others try to learn from their mistakes for the future. And then there are people like Elon Musk: they just become more determined in their pursuit.
The success seems to prove him right: the extravagant entrepreneur is the richest person in the world with an estimated assets of between 219 and 264 billion dollars.
Unlike his rivals for the top spot on the billionaire list – like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates – he didn’t make a fortune by focusing on one specialty. Instead, Musk can look back on a full-fledged business empire in his company’s history, where another link with the Twitter short messaging service is likely to be added.
Musk has developed a colorful network of companies over the years
Musk hasn’t even engaged in one industry: He started selling city tours through metropolises to newspapers like the Washington Post or the New York Times, and ends – at least in his plans – one day with the colonization of Mars.
Corporate Moss Empire:
1995: He founded Zip2 with his brother Kimbal Musk – the brothers sold city tour software to major newspaper websites
1999: Foundation of payment service provider X.com, which a year later merged with competitor Confinity, founded by Peter Thiel, to form PayPal.
2002: Foundation of the aerospace company Space X, a world leader in commercial space launches, especially satellites.
2004: Musk joins Tesla as an investor, four years later assuming the role of CEO.
2006: Musk founds Solarcity with two cousins, Peter Rive and Lyndon Rive. The company designs, sells and installs photovoltaic systems.
2015: Musk wants to do research on artificial intelligence with the Open AI Foundation, three years after the multibillionaire withdrew from the board due to differences of opinion.
2016: Musk founds the technology company Neurolink, with the aim of creating an interface between the human brain and machines.
2016: In the same year, Musk also took public transportation with “The Boring Company”. Among other things, he announces the construction of Hyper Loop tunnels, for example between New York and Philadelphia.
The key characteristics of success
But how does a person go down such a path? Three characteristics seem to run through Musk’s life story:
- A commitment that borders on madness,
- an entrepreneurial spirit that at times takes on traits of compulsion to control,
- and a view that some would describe as an incorrigibility if man had not been so successful in it.
Or, to put it more clearly: genius is usually not far from madness.
Born in South Africa, he seems to deal with setbacks differently than the average person. Rejection of him never made him change his approach or way of treating people. Instead, he went on his way with even more passion.
Moss divides people into two categories
Business reporter Ashlee Vance writes that Musk had already been noticed at school as a pundit. Vance spent a total of 40 hours with the extravagant entrepreneur and had 200 conversations with employees and family members. The image of her in her biography of Musk is clear: the entrepreneur is a loner, motivated and restless.
From a young age, Musk drew one main conclusion from the brutal bullying attacks against him: people were either with him or were in his way, Vance said.
This explains many moments in his later career: Musk doesn’t want to give up control. At Tesla, the entrepreneur is said to have been involved in countless detailed questions, from the shape of the headlights to the design of the seat cushions. His employees consider him an “extreme micromanager”.
Musk’s intransigence caused him to fail on Paypal
This also leads to problems: Managers keep separating from Musk or he retires, as is the case with his AI Open AI foundation. Just last year, Neurolink’s co-founder left the company without giving any further reasons.
Earlier in his career, Musk also cost him his job: His Paypal colleagues lost patience with Musk after less than a year of fending for themselves and fired him without further ado when he was away for two weeks. Paypal’s new CEO was then co-founder Peter Thiel, who made the company public.
Peter Thiel in conversation with Philipp Rösler (archive): The entrepreneur challenged Musk to Paypal in the early 2000s and won. (Source: Raphael Huenerfauth images / imago)
The $ 1.5 billion Musk, as the largest shareholder, later made from the sale of his stock may have quelled his frustration at leaving the company. However, Musk cites his Paypal setback as a motivator for his new startups.
Hardly anyone is good enough for Elon Musk
From that point on, he often no longer shared power: Musk himself took on the role of CEO at both Tesla and Space X, though he often pointed out that he was looking for external CEOs. Alone: According to him, no one was right for the role.
He would only entrust Space X to greats like Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates, he admitted in an interview over a decade ago. Musk also recently turned down the possibility of joining the board of directors only on Twitter. Instead, he bought the company for $ 44 billion and now he wants to go public.
One of the chosen few: Jeff Bezos would have trusted Musk to be the CEO of Space X a few years ago, however, the founder of Amazon became a competitor in the space sector with Blue Origin. (Source: Chuck Bigger images / imago)
According to Musk, who is himself particularly active in the social network, he wants to use this step to ensure freedom of expression on the short message service. However, it is also clear that in this way he is not accountable to any shareholder and has sole control over the company.
Critics punish Musk
Critics fear this, especially in regards to the freedom of expression faced by Musk: because Musk apparently divides people into two categories in every area of his life; those who are for or against him. He does not face criticism, in fact in the past he has turned his large number of fans on Twitter against journalists who have reported critically about the entrepreneur or the brands of him.
According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the biggest benefit of Musk’s wealth for the billionaire is that he can afford to be “incredibly resentful and mean”.
A few years ago, Musk simply canceled the Tesla order for a user who publicly criticized a Tesla event on Twitter. Recently, ZDF reporters were not even granted access to the opening of the first German gigafactory in Grünheide near Berlin, apparently due to previous criticism.
Bill Gates also falls out of favor
But you have to tell Musk one thing: in his uncompromising approach to criticism, he doesn’t differentiate between individuals, journalists or multi-billionaires.
Just a few days ago, she turned down Bill Gates’ invitation to work together on a project to combat climate change. Musk’s logic? Microsoft CEO holds a $ 500 million short position in Tesla.
So it remains to be seen how Musk’s impulsive nature will translate into his empire moving forward. With Twitter, he adds another company that he should jump into with great enthusiasm. The next few months will show how this affects Tesla and Space X and freedom of expression.