What Makes Elon Musk Stand Out? 15 Reasons Why the Serial Entrepreneur is Subverting All the Rules
There are few figures as controversial, unpredictable, and truly fascinating as Elon Musk. The charismatic billionaire has become something of a mad scientist, using his wealth and influence to fund projects deemed too risky or outlandish by others.
From his Twitter rants to his sometimes absurd strokes of genius, Musk has become one of the most interesting people of our generation. Here are just a few examples of why we find Elon Musk so bizarrely fascinating.
1. The Flamethrowers: Raising Funds in the Weirdest Way
When Elon Musk first tweeted that the Boring Company would be creating flamethrowers, many people understandably thought he was joking. But if there's one thing we've learned by now, Musk rarely jokes when it comes to his flambouyant announcements.
The Boring Company's "Not-A-Flamethrower"s sold for $500 apiece, and succeeded in raising $10 million for their underground tunneling projects. That's just a small taste of Musk's unorthodox business strategies, and one that really paid off.
First 1000 not-a-flamethrowers being picked up today! ? pic.twitter.com/0MOi6tFkVm— The Boring Company (@boringcompany) June 9, 2018
2. His Imagination: Teasing the Public With Outrageous Ideas
Musk is known to be a frequent Tweeter, and his tweets often stir up a lot of excitement and media intrigue. Take, for instance, his tweet where he casually announced that he was building a cyborg dragon. The implication with it being a "cyborg" is that it will contain biological matter. We'll let you imagine what kind of horrors he might have in store.
Additionally, Musk recently tweeted about his desires to open a candy factory. If there's one person who could become a real-life Willy Wonka, it's Musk. You can easily dismiss these tweets as jokes, but remember that people thought the flamethrowers were just jokes too.
Oh btw I’m building a cyborg dragon— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2018
3. Tesla: Creating the Next Generation of Cars
While there's no doubt that Tesla is still some way away from achieving the level of success Musk had envisioned for the company, it's undeniable that the innovative car manufacturer has been spurring competitors into the electric car race. Much more than simply boosting the profile of electric and autonomous vehicles, Tesla has been a driving force in creating the next generation of automotive technologies.
Chief among these is an autopilot system that will be able to predict your desired destination. Simply put, Musk is trailblazing innovations that most other manufacturers haven't even considered. His ideas might seem out there, but it's the kind of creativity that's spurring the entire industry into a more exciting direction.
4. Business Basics: Defying All the Rules
Elon Musk is perhaps the last person you'd expect to conform to "less is more", and yet his resumé is remarkably pared-back. In true, rule-breaking form, even Musk's CV goes against the grain.
Given his extensive experience and background, it's kind of incredible that he managed to whittle everything down to a meager page. So next time someone tells you that a resumé needs to be two pages or more, you can safely ignore them.
5. Breaking Records: Building the World's Biggest Battery
Elon Musk is a man of big ideas. Often, the scope of his vision is so huge that people dismiss it out of hand. Many people doubted Musk when, last year, he announced that he would be building the world's biggest battery in South Australia, and that the entire project would take a mere 100 days.
It was a bold claim, and yet Musk delivered. The enormous battery went live in December 2017, ahead of schedule, and has the capacity to power 30,000 homes. Sometimes dreaming big really does pay off.
6. Colonizing Mars: Putting the First Humans on the Red Planet
It's easy to forget that, until relatively recently, the idea of sending humans to Mars was considered unrealistic. In many ways, Musk's work through SpaceX has helped to change public perceptions of the viability of human missions to Mars.
While many might be skeptical of Musk's plans to send cargo ships to Mars by 2022, to eventually be followed by human colonies, Musk has a lot of impressive advocates. Take, for instance, Scott Kelly - the astronaut who holds the record for most consecutive days spent in space. In 2015, Kelly said, "When Elon Musk said he was going to launch his rocket and then land the first stage on a barge, I thought he was crazy. And then he did it. I'm not going to ever doubt what he says, ever again."
Just another reminder that, although Musk's ideas seem fantastical, he's steadily achieving his goals and swaying the opinions of important public figures.
7. Connecting the World: Bringing Rocket Travel Down to Earth
While many of us think of rockets as vehicles fit only for space, Musk is yet again breaking boundaries and thinking outside the box by applying the technology on Earth. Earlier this year, Musk announced his plans to connect his Hyperloop system with SpaceX rocket ports.
This, in theory, would allow people to travel underground from major urban areas to rocket ports in as little as ten minutes, where they could then board a rocket bound for a city on the other side of the globe. The unusual travel system could, theoretically, see people traveling from one hemisphere to the other in under an hour. His lofty goals are being supported by his staff, most notably SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell who speaks highly of her experience on the project.
"I love working for @elonmusk... Without him saying anything, he drives you to do your best work. He doesn't have to say a word. You just want to do great work." — @SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell https://t.co/wItzoDEJql— TED Talks (@TEDTalks) April 23, 2018
8. His Feelings on AI: Going Against the Robotic Grain
Despite his penchant for all things innovative and futuristic, Musk has become something of a vocal opponent of what he views as potentially dangerous breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. Rather than joining in with the countless other companies and scientists who have been creating some eerie AIs, Musk has dedicated himself to speaking out against the dangers of intelligent robots.
In 2017, Musk was one of 116 experts who called for a complete ban on so-called "killer robots". In an age where many people seem quick to welcome all advancements in AI, regardless of their dangers, Musk stands apart as a voice of caution.
9. His Sustainable Technologies: Making Clean Energy More Accessible
One of Musk's most lauded traits is his passion for sustainability and clean energy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his efforts to bring green energy technologies to the masses.
While many CEOs and industry leaders are satisfied to restrict their efforts in sustainability to their own companies and their energy expenditure, Musk has gone one step further to create devices that give people the opportunity to generate their own renewable energy at home. This has been the most apparent in his release of the Tesla solar roof tiles, which marked a departure from more traditional solar panels and other domestic solar technologies.
10. Space Exploration: Pushing the Limits of Space Travel
Until very recently, space exploration was primarily the domain of select international agencies. For a private company to create their own rockets, and start planning their own space missions, was unthinkable. But, as we know, Elon Musk deals almost entirely with the unthinkable.
In May of this year, Musk announced that SpaceX's Falcon 9 is expected to complete an incredible 300 missions in just 5 years. The Falcon 9 is the fore-runner to the much-awaited BFR, which Musk hopes will bring humans to the moon and Mars. The Falcon 9 missions mark the beginning of a five-year plan, culminating in what Musk hopes will be the start of the manned BFR missions.
11. His Creativity: Turning Dirt Into Merchandise
As we've already noted, Musk's funding strategies are nothing if not creative. Following the success of the flamethrowers, Musk has announced that his latest product for public consumption will be a series of interlocking bricks. But these aren't just any bricks. They're formed from the earth removed during the Boring Company's tunnel drilling.
While this announcement has attracted more than its fair share of critics, it's likely that the bricks will prove to be every bit as successful as the flamethrowers. If anyone can get thousands of people to line up and buy recycled dirt bricks, it's Musk.
New Boring Company merch coming soon. Lifesize LEGO-like interlocking bricks made from tunneling rock that you can use to create sculptures & buildings. Rated for California seismic loads, so super strong, but bored in the middle, like an aircraft wing spar, so not heavy.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 26, 2018
12. The Starman Launch: Firing A Roadster Into Space
Nothing sums up the strange allure of Elon Musk as a person quite as well as his Starman launch from earlier this year. Though ostensibly a test launch for Falcon Heavy rocket, Musk also fired a bright red Tesla Roadster into Mars's orbit.
To top off the surreal image, the roaster carried a SpaceX spacesuit as a passenger, arranged to look as though it was driving leisurely across the cosmos. It's an image that will go down in history as one of the weirdest, and most amazing, things to have ever happened.
13. The Hyperloop: Reinventing Public Transport
As if Elon Musk wasn't already busy reinventing or progressing everything else, he's been working on completely transforming public transportation too. His Hyperloop project seeks to create a system of underground tunnels, through which super-fast pods will carry passengers along magnetic tracks.
The design is unlike anything else around, and has already been hitting some significant milestones. Last year a Hyperloop pod reached a top speed of 200 mph, and this year Musk announced his plans for the Hyperloop to reach half the speed of sound. In true Musk fashion, it's ambitious, outrageous, and probably going to happen.
14. His Competitive Spirit: Spurring the World Into Action
Musk's frequent Twitter use means we're often privy to his competitive streak. Unlike a lot of CEOs and industry leaders who would shy away from publicly antagonizing their rivals, or engaging in blatant competitive behavior, Musk doesn't hold back.
He famously responded to an article on Boeing's desires to beat SpaceX to Mars by goading the aeronautics company online, and has since announced that he'll eat his own hat if competitors United Launch Alliance launches another rocket before 2023.
Do it— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 7, 2017
15. Going Where Others Won't: Connecting Minds and Machines
One of Elon Musk's most intriguing and unusual projects has been the Neuralink. The ambitious project, launched in 2017, seeks to connect human minds with computers.
Musk believes that this will help prevent humans from becoming obsolete in the advent of highly advanced AIs. While other companies are busy improving AIs, Musk is more concerned with improving human minds and keeping an edge on the mechanical competition.
Satellites are important for both scientific and commercial purposes but the increased number of them blocks the view.