Our Money Hero series has so far been predominantly obsessed with individuals who have made a difference to the investment/advice profession or clients’ finances directly. In April we are looking to a man who has made us all better off, indirectly – Elon Musk.
Elon Musk, born in South Africa, a Canadian citizen and latterly US citizen, is a similar age to me but makes me feel as though I have been wasting my time on earth. His commercial biography by age reads:
24 – established Zip2
27 – sold Zip2 and made $22M
27 – established X.com
28 – merged with PayPal
31 – sold PayPal and made $165M
31 – founded Space X to create a Station on planet Mars for 80,000 people
32 – joined Tesla as Chairman to grow it to become the leading electric car producer
42 – unveiled Hyperloop concept of near frictionless, tubular train travel cutting San Fran to LA commute to 35 mins.
44 – established OpenAI a way of sharing Artificial Intelligence developments with all
45 – bought SolarCity (initially conceived via his cousins when he was 35) second largest supplier of solar power in US and develop of solar tiles.
Most successful entrepreneurs have one good idea and capitalise on it. This is a guy who has one ground-breaking idea every five years or so and lets others in on the fun. What also sets Elon Musk apart from your average Mark Zuckerberg is that he is willing to share the technology with others. He has opened up the Tesla technology to other car manufacturers in the hope that this will help develop the electric car infrastructure and still Tesla produce electric drive trains for Daimler, Mercedes and Toyota. The OpenAI project is another collaborative exercise where the benefits are open to all.
So all very impressive but why Hero of the Month for April?
Well Elon sees an societal issue such as climate change and he thinks of a way of solving it for the benefit of all of mankind (and with some icing for those of us who invest ethically, in green tech). The man is only 45 and surely still has a few problems in the world to solve. His latest two projects are looking at Boring and Neuralink and I am sure that there are many to come over future decades.
With politicians failing us, (the ones I know would argue that politics is not built to deal with the big challenges) we need entrepreneurs who are in the words of Elon ‘socially liberal and fiscally conservative’.
So more power to Elon, he might think that we are living in a computer game but who cares when he is single-handedly solving the world’s biggest current issue, while making money doing it.