Elon Reeve Musk FRS (born June 28, 1971) is an entrepreneur and business magnate. He is the founder, CEO and Chief Engineer at SpaceX; early-stage investor, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; and co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI. With an estimated net worth of around US$304 billion as of January 2022, Musk is the wealthiest person in the world.
Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father, and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada at age 17 to avoid conscription. He was enrolled at Queen’s University and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received a bachelor’s degree in economics and physics, then moved to California in 1995 to attend Stanford University but decided instead to pursue a business career, co-founding the web software company Zip2 with his brother Kimbal. The startup was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. The same year, Musk co-founded online bank X.com, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to form PayPal. The company was bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
In 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, of which he is CEO and CTO. In 2004, he joined electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.) as chairman and product architect, becoming its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company that was later acquired by Tesla and became Tesla Energy. In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that promotes friendly artificial intelligence. In 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain–computer interfaces, and founded The Boring Company, a tunnel construction company. Musk has proposed the Hyperloop, a high-speed vactrain transportation system.
Musk has been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox or unscientific stances and highly publicized controversies. In 2018, he was sued for defamation by a British caver who advised in the Tham Luang cave rescue; a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. In the same year, he was sued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for falsely tweeting that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla. He settled with the SEC, temporarily stepping down from his chairmanship and agreed to limitations on his Twitter usage. Musk has spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and has received criticism from experts for his other views on such matters as artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, and public transport.
Musk met his first wife, Canadian author Justine Wilson, while attending Queen’s University, and they married in 2000. He contracted malaria in 2000 while on vacation in South Africa, and almost died. In 2002, their first child, son Nevada Alexander Musk, died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the age of 10 weeks. After his death, the couple decided to use IVF to continue their family. Twins Xavier and Griffin were born in April 2004, followed by triplets Kai, Saxon, and Damian in 2006. The couple divorced in 2008 and share custody of their five sons.
In 2008, Musk began dating English actress Talulah Riley, and in 2010, the couple married. In 2012, he announced a divorce from Riley. In 2013, Musk and Riley remarried. In December 2014, he filed for a second divorce from Riley; however, the action was withdrawn. A second divorce was finalized in 2016. Musk then dated Amber Heard for several months in 2017; he had reportedly been pursuing her since 2012. Musk was later accused by Johnny Depp of having an affair with Heard while she was still married to Depp. Musk and Heard both denied the affair.