SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk took time out Jan. 5 from overseeing a rocket launch in Florida (which was ultimately postponed till Saturday) for an interactive "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) session on Reddit.
Musk, also CEO and founder of Tesla Motors Inc. (Nasdaq: TSLA), and cofounder of PayPal Inc., was peppered with questions from Reddit users. The online Q&A session - which can be viewed in full here - attracted more than 8,000 comments over a few hours. Questions ran the gamut from personal to technical to trivial.
The bold, 43-year-old Musk, who currently boasts a net worth of some $8.3 billon according to Forbes, replied with frankness and wit. At times, he also admittedly improvised.
When asked about the odds of becoming successful, Musk originally said they were "maybe about 50-50." He later recanted and admitted, "I pretty much made that up. I have no idea :)" (Yes, Musk added the smiley face.)
Why did so many hop on to Musk's AMA? Musk is a visionary. He was at the forefront of the digital payments revolution with PayPal. He shook up the traditional auto market with Tesla's luxury electric car line. He has transformed space travel with SpaceX. Indeed, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.6 billion contract in September 2014 to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Here are 23 facts about Musk, including gems from last week's AMA, to give you a good idea of who this entrepreneur really is...
23 Elon Musk Facts
- Born Elon Reeve Musk on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa to a Canadian-English Maye Musk and South African-born Errol Musk.
- Maye worked as a fashion model and dietician; Errol was an electrical/mechanical engineer.
- Musk has two siblings: brother Kimbal and sister Tosca.
- Elon Musk's brother Kimbal is an entrepreneur, environmentalist, and venture capitalist who owns The Kitchen Café LLC - a nonprofit that brings outdoor vegetable gardens to community spaces.
- Elon Musk's sister Tosca is an award-winning film producer and director. Her family feature "Country Remedy" won nine awards, including three for Best Picture.
- Musk moved to Canada at age 17 after obtaining Canadian citizenship through his mother.
- In 1995, Musk moved to California at age 24 to begin a PhD in applied physics at Stanford University. He left the program after just two days to pursue his entrepreneurial aspirations in the Internet, renewable energy, and outer space. He figured the three would affect the future of humanity and wanted to part of each.
- In 2002, Musk became an American citizen.
- Musk has been married three times, twice to actress/filmmaker Talulah Riley.
- From 2000-2008 Elon Musk was married to fiction writer Justine Wilson.
Their first son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at the age of 10 weeks. The two went on to have twin boys followed by triplets (all boys).
- In 2008, Musk married Talulah Riley. Four years later they divorced, only to remarry again in July 2013. The second time around also didn't take and they divorced again in December 2014.
- From the divorce settlement, Riley will receive $16 million in cash, other assets and property that has yet to be divided.
- Despite rumors to the contrary, Musk has no plan to enter politics.
- He does, however, like to quote one of the world's greatest politicians, Winston Churchill: "If you're going through hell, keep going."
- According to Elon Musk, the best teacher he ever had was his elementary school principal, who stepped in to cover math classes when a teacher abruptly quit. Musk relished his teacher's tales of when he was a soldier in World War II.
- Musk sleeps almost exactly six hours every night.
- That's an amazing feat considering Musk runs Tesla, SpaceX, is chairman of green energy service company SolarCity Corp. (Nasdaq: SCTY), sits on a several advisory boards, and also engages in a number of charitable and philanthropic endeavors.
- The brilliant Musk often feels like his head is full. "My context switching penalty is high and my process isolation is not what it used to be. Frankly, though, I think most people can learn a lot more than they think they can. They sell themselves short without trying. One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree - make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to."
- The habit Musk believes has the biggest positive impact on his life is showering.
- Favorite foods include French cuisine and traditional BBQ.
- His alcoholic beverage of choice is whiskey.
- Elon Musk is a big fan of video games, and especially likes first person shooters and games with great plotlines. Among his favorites are Warcraft, Bioshock, Fallout, Mass Effect, and Civilization.
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