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Elon Musk, baroque multi-entrepreneur and visionary

Tesla boss Elon Musk at the TED2022 conference in Vancouver on April 14, 2022 in Canada (Ryan Lash/TED Conferences, LLC/AFP)

He has his head in the stars, his wallet in electric cars, here he is now attacking Twitter: Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, is playing on all fronts in the name of “the environment” and “civilization”.

Born in South Africa, American and Canadian citizen, leader of SpaceX and Tesla, the whimsical entrepreneur has become a central figure of American capitalism with his extra-planetary ambitions and his political ideals.

His last objective: to seize Twitter, which he accuses in particular of curbing freedom of expression. In two weeks, the tech planet learned that he had bought 9% of the shares, that he was going to join the board of directors, then that he would not go, and finally, on Thursday, that he wanted to buy back the social network.

Meanwhile, the 50-year-old opened Tesla’s new mega-factory in Texas, where he moved his main company’s headquarters from California, and his SpaceX gem sent the first all-private mission to the International Space Station. .

His fortune is estimated by Forbes at nearly $274 billion – the equivalent of Finland’s GDP.

He amassed it thanks to Tesla, in particular, and uses it to finance his various adventures such as Neuralink, a start-up which aims to directly link the human brain to the computer, and The Boring Company, which intends to revolutionize city ​​transport with tunnels.

Whatever the sector, he puts forward his desire to save humanity, the environment or democracy. Interviewed Thursday on his reasons for acquiring Twitter, he spoke of a “risk to civilization” if users lost confidence in the platform.

“X Æ A-12”

Megalomaniac, workaholic, Elon Musk hates following the rules, especially on his Twitter account with 81 million subscribers on which he posts jokes, videos from SpaceX, news from Tesla and many provocations.

Elon Musk at his new Tesla factory near Berlin, March 22, 2022
Elon Musk at his new Tesla factory near Berlin, March 22, 2022 (Patrick Pleul / POOL/AFP/Archives)

He recently challenged Vladimir Putin to a duel via Twitter, or even defended opponents of health restrictions in Canada by comparing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler.

In 2018, during a crazy two-hour interview broadcast live on the internet, we see him drinking whiskey, brandishing a samurai sword and smoking cannabis – legal in California – while evoking the conquest of space, the end of the world and the libido of bonobo monkeys.

In May 2021, he revealed he had Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Divorced three times, Mr. Musk is the father of eight children, one of whom died at 10 weeks. His last child, whom he had with the singer Grimes, is called Exa Dark Sideræl Musk. It is the little sister of “X Æ A-12”.

The Tesla Cult

The man splits between an army of fans who adore him and ensure his publicity and those who hate him. But it’s hard to deny Tesla’s success.

Elon Musk at the grand opening of the massive Tesla factory in Austin, Texas on April 7, 2022
Elon Musk during the inauguration of the huge Tesla factory in Austin, Texas, on April 7, 2022 ( SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP )

Long in deficit, the company is now an immense industrial and financial success, with a record profit of 5.5 billion dollars in 2021 and an immense stock market valuation.

“I think I know more about industrial production than anyone in the world,” Elon Musk boasted Thursday.

It was not won. From 2017 to 2019, the company was “constantly on the verge of bankruptcy”, he explained.

“Nothing was going well for the production of the Model 3. (…) I was living in the factory in Fremont, I was sleeping on the floor so that the team could see that I was not in my ivory tower”, he said.

Several complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination have been filed against this factory, accused of “racial segregation” by California.

“Space Civilization”

Born in Pretoria, South Africa, on June 28, 1971 to an engineer father and a Canadian model, Elon Musk studied in Canada and then in the United States.

He then created Zip2, an online software company, and became a millionaire before his 30th birthday by selling it to the computer manufacturer Compaq in 1999 for more than 300 million dollars. The young entrepreneur then founded X.com, which was merged with PayPal, then bought by eBay in 2002 for 1.5 billion.

With SpaceX, founded in the process, he has had a string of successes, from an exclusive contract signed with NASA to build the next moon landing module for the American agency, to the first orbital mission in history without a professional astronaut in edge.

“The overall goal is to allow life to develop on several planets and to make humanity a space civilization,” said Mr. Musk in an interview with Time Magazine, which named him at the end of 2021 personality of the year.

bur-jum-ube-juj / rle

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