Elon Musk: from bedroom programmer to rocket man

For the founder of X.com and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, the only way is up
For the founder of X.com and Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, the only way is up
(Image credit: Eoin Ryan)

In 1996, Elon Musk – and we realise how quaint this now sounds – did his first million dollar deal. The software company he started in 1995 with $28,000 of his father’s money picked up a $3 million investment and his remarkable career, from software to space via PayPal and sustainable propulsion, was off.

Along the way he has destroyed decades of received wisdom and borrowed business practices and, despite all that, his smartest rivals still think the world of him. As CCO of Aston Martin, Marek Reichman knows a thing or two about building beautiful, cutting-edge cars. It’s thanks to Elon Musk, he says, ‘that our industry is now engaged in a radical rethink of how we create and deliver transportation’.

If starting a car company is hard, building one that survives beyond a decade is incredibly challenging. In creating and, more importantly, growing Tesla, Musk is already well on his way to achieving one of his core objectives: ‘to accelerate the change to sustainable zero emission mobility’. Oh, and that isn’t all. Along the way, Musk is also overhauling solar power, autonomous driving, high-speed mass transit and low-cost space travel. Like Reichman, his rivals aren’t betting against him.

Elon Musk is one of our 20 Game-Changers. Read about the other 19 here

As originally featured in the October 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*211)


For more information, visit the Tesla website

Illustrator: Eoin Ryan

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.