Continental Innovators: Elon Musk

In Business and Currency, Life by Continental StaffLeave a Comment

Innovation is (almost) as important to us as our clients. That’s why each week we showcase those who inspire us to think outside the box and keep aiming higher. This week we’re highlighting Elon Musk.

Who is Elon Musk?

If you haven’t already heard the name Elon Musk, chances are you will soon. Born in South Africa, raised in Canada and now living in the US, Musk has become one of the most prominent entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers and investors of the 21st century. At only 43 years of age, Musk already has some remarkable accomplishments under his belt but his greatest achievements may yet come.

After moving to Canada from South Africa Elon, along with his brother Kimbal, attended Queen’s University. Kimbal graduated from Queen’s but Elon transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he received a degree in physics and economics.


Shortly after graduating Elon and Kimbal founded a software company called Zip2 in 1995. Four years later, in 1999, Elon sold his shares in Zip2 for $22 million. That same year he founded X.com an online financial services company which merged with PayPal in 2001. eBay then bought PayPal in 2002 netting Musk $165 million for his 11.5% stake in the company.

With PayPal Musk revolutionised e-commerce and made himself very rich at a very young age. Yet PayPal is just the beginning of Musk’s journey.


Rather than sitting on his laurels Musk plowed most of his fortune into founding SpaceX in June of 2002. SpaceX was one of the first private companies to successfully build and test private spacecraft and rockets. In 2012 the company won a lucrative contract with NASA to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX then became the first private company ever to berth with the ISS – and for a fraction of the cost of government space agencies.

Now, thanks to a large investment from Google, SpaceX is embarking on an ambitious project to launch a series of satellites into orbit. These satellites will eventually beam high speed, cheap internet across the world.

Musk’s celestial ambitions don’t end there, he has said in interviews that he would like to put a human on Mars in 10-20 years and ultimately build a Mars colony. It might seem like science fiction but underestimating Musk would be a mistake.



Musks ambitions are not entirely extra-terrestrial, he hopes to change life here on earth as well. In 2003 Tesla motors was founded and a year later Musk invested heavily in the company and was named Chairman. In 2008 Musk took a bigger role in the company adding CEO and Product Architect to his resume.

Tesla Motors is the worlds first electric car company and has already shipped tens of thousands of models but so far the large price tag has prevented a greater market share. By 2017 however, the company plans to release a car costing under $35 000. This would effectively become the first affordable mass produced electric car. The company is no also expanding into the home energy market. No surprise then that Musk recently suggested that Tesla could be worth more than $700 billion by 2025.

Even more remarkable is the fact that Tesla, under Musk in 2012, released its patents to anyone who might want to use them in order to expedite electric car development by other companies. Tesla’s vehicles are all zero-emissions and the company is on the forefront of green technology and leading the charge against climate change.

Solar City

Like Tesla, Solar City was created with the intention of battling climate change. Musk provided the original concept for Solar City which was then founded by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive in 2006. The company designs, finances and installs solar panels and has begun building electric car charging stations. It has become the second largest supplier of solar power technology in the United States.


Musk is now worth an estimated $7.5 billion but along with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and other mega rich public figures he has promised to donate the bulk of his fortune to charity. Musk is also a trustee of the X Prize Foundation which provides funding to the research and development of green energy technology. He has also made sizeable donations to a number of other non-profit technologically oriented organisations like the Future of Life Institute which aims to regulate AI (artificial intelligence).

Elon Musk: A True Innovator

The most impressive aspect of Elon Musk is not what he has achieved but the tenacity with which he has achieved it. At many points of his life he would have been justified in putting his feet up  and retiring but Musk has time and again sought new challenges and succeeded. He is a man who is constantly looking forward in his own life and in humanities existence. Musk is a self made billionaire and in the process of accumulating his wealth he has developed technologies that benefit all of humankind.

Musk’s drive, passion, creativity, socially conscious approach and unrivalled success truly make him a Continental innovator.

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