It was in 1995 that Elon Musk arrived in California with the intention of continuing his studies at the prestigious Stanford University, but he decided to go into business instead. (Photo: Getty Images)
GUEST BLOG. Not a single day goes by without hearing about the latest escapade of colorful entrepreneur, Elon Musk.
From Tesla to Twitter via PayPal, SpaceX, Neuralink or the development of the constellation of Starlink satellites (and many other projects), we almost forget about it, between the various battles it delivers to the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission ), the American stock market policeman, or with anyone who stands in his way, that Elon Musk is a visionary and prolific entrepreneur.
Unfortunately, his mood swings, his too often awkward speeches, his appetite for a perpetual fight as well as his management style at odds with best practices negatively tint his incredible business career.
This character is definitely not unanimous: either we are among his loyal admirers by drinking in each of his words, or we scratch our heads, exasperated by his new controversy of the day.
Before we go any further, let’s take a closer look. The richest man in the world was born in Pretoria, South Africa. He moved to Saskatchewan at the age of 17 and received Canadian citizenship from his mother. After studying at a few colleges here and there, he graduated from college in economics and physics. It was in 1995 that he arrived in California with the intention of continuing his studies at the prestigious Stanford University, but he decided to go into business instead.
Just four years later, he sold his first startup, Zip2, to giant Compaq for over $300 million. It only took a few years for him to go back to banking, selling his second company, PayPal, to eBay for a whopping $1.5 billion. We are in 2002 and nothing seems to stop him in his dazzling quest for space, among other things…
Crazy or genius? The question is valid. Moreover, several experts in the field have already studied the subject at length and no one, to date, has managed to unravel the Musk mystery. Given the omnipotence of the man and his various projects, however, I believe it is important to fully understand the character before it is too late.
My words may sound alarmist, but when faced with a megalomaniac entrepreneur who largely controls space exploration in collaboration with NASA, and who greatly influences the war — as we can see with the strategic military aid offered to Ukraine by the data from the Starlink satellites — or when we dwell on the power of speech and influence, with all the risks that entails, that he has just offered himself for several dozen billions with the acquisition of Twitter, let’s say it’s always reassuring to know if this person is sane.
Frankly, we’ll probably never know. However, in this specific case, I like to remember the quote from Aristotle who said that there was no genius without a touch of madness.
Indeed, as for any visionary who has crossed the ages, the border between these two states of mind is extremely thin. Moreover, the subject has fascinated us for a long time, whether with Einstein, Picasso, the Curies, Newton and so on. All were in their time very special beings that we looked at from afar without really understanding their approach and yet, centuries later, all are considered geniuses who have marked our history.
As for Elon Musk, although I admire his entrepreneurial journey, I still have a lot of questions about his relationship with people. It is absolutely normal to have some communication challenges for some, however, it is rather the intimidating, aggressive and disrespectful side of their relationships that I dislike. That said, no one, him first, forces us to love him. But one thing is clear: Elon Musk is the very definition of this border that exists between madness and genius.