The founder of PayPal and SpaceX traced his path in his own way before embarking on the deep end of Silicon Valley.
An atypical journey, just like the character. While Elon Musk bought the social network Twitter for 44 billion dollars, let’s go back in the footsteps of the boss of the car brand Tesla and the space company SpaceX among others. A man with an extraordinary personality. Born in 1971 in South Africa, Elon Musk spent his childhood in Pretoria, the administrative capital of the country.
Young Elon Musk poses on the right in this photo posted on Instagram by an unofficial account.
He is a solitary and reserved student, but eager for knowledge and boundless curiosity. Ashlee Vance, author in 2015 of a biography of the billionaire, The entrepreneur who will change the world (Eyrolles), says that the young Elon reads several hours a day. He spends his afternoons in bookstores, gulping down fiction books, comics, essays, encyclopedias. His photographic memory allows him to remember everything he reads: little Elon Musk is a real computer on legs.
From South Africa to Canada
But the future visionary entrepreneur is not one of the brightest in his class, at least not yet. At Pretoria Boys High School in Pretoria, he excelled in physics and computer science but neglected subjects that did not interest him. One thing is certain, this clumsy and eccentric teenager has an idea behind his head: witness the miniature rockets he brings to school and launches under the ironic eye of his comrades who laugh at his fantasies.
” READ ALSO – In Canada, studying in Ontario is the best way to become bilingual
At 17, he left South Africa for Canada, from where he hoped to enter the United States, the country of all his ambitions. Previously, he spent five months at the University of Pretoria where he enrolled in physics and engineering sciences while waiting to receive his visa. He then entered Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, where he remained for two years. It was there that he finally set to work: he studied business economics, took part in oratorical contests, got involved in his first projects. He does his first summer internship in a bank.
Two days at Stanford
In 1992, he joined the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, thanks to a scholarship. He did a double course there, in economics and physics. In the summer of 1994, he discovered Silicon Valley where he did two internships: the first in a start-up that developed electric vehicles, the other in a young video game company. For Elon Musk, the time of studies is coming to an end: he first intends to prepare a doctorate in physics and materials science at Stanford but gives up after… two days.
It is high time to put his plans into action. He left to settle for good at the age of 24 in Silicon Valley with his brother Kimbal, where he created his first company: Zip2, a kind of Google Maps which lists local shops in large cities. First, he struggles to convince his clients that the future lies on the Internet. We take him for a madman, a fanatic, an original. Twenty-seven years later, no one makes fun of Elon Musk and his rockets anymore.
SEE ALSO – Billionaire Elon Musk buys the social network Twitter for 44 billion dollars