Elon Musk is an atypical CEO.
Elon Musk is an atypical billionaire.
Elon Musk is a visionary in search of influence.
Within a week, the richest man in the world is on the verge of gaining a level of influence as the world has rarely seen.
Musk, whose net worth was recently estimated at $265 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, is far from leading the luxurious life one might expect. Musk had pledged in 2020 to get rid of “almost all physical possessions'” including mansions in California.
“I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house,” the mogul posted on Twitter on May 1, 2020.
He has since moved to Austin, where he lived in a studio-sized apartment he rents from his rocket company, SpaceX.
“My primary home is literally a ~$50k house in Boca Chica / Starbase that I rent from SpaceX. It’s kinda awesome though,” Musk, who once had a $100 million real estate portfolio, said last June. “Only house I own is the events house in the Bay Area. If I sold it, the house would see less use, unless bought by a big family, which might happen some day.”
Musk has often explained that his choice of a frugal life comes from the fact that he wants to finance his mission to bring humans to Mars as well as to save humanity from pollution.
“Working on sustainable energy for Earth with Tesla & protecting future of consciousness by making life multiplanetary with SpaceX. Also, AI risk mitigation with Neuralink & fixing traffic with Boring,” the tech tycoon said last year.
A Man On a Mission
Musk is a man on a mission. He seems to be competing for the title of visionary of the century.
This quest has just found its full meaning during this first week of April. As of April 4, Musk announced that he has taken a stake of more than 9% in Twitter (TWTR) – Get Twitter, Inc. Report, which makes him the largest shareholder of the microblogging platform, his favorite social network.
It is on the platform, which was also former President Donald Trump’s favorite communications channel, that Musk built his public persona.
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It is on Twitter that he communicates with the outside, updating about the products of his companies, Tesla, SpaceX, Boring Co. and Neuralink.
And it is on Twitter that Musk attacks, mocks and responds to his detractors. On the social network, the executive does not hesitate to respond to users who challenge him or ask him questions on various subjects. Nor does he shy from elaborating on his state of mind there.
He uses the platform as a financial adviser. Musk — like many politicians — seems to fully understand the power of direct interactions with people.
He could have acquired control of Twitter without denting his fortune much. But Musk seems less interested in owning and running the site than in disrupting it. Last month, he gained millions of followers/fans on the social network (he currently has nearly 81 million followers there).
Such a legion of fans and admirers allows him to extend his notoriety and influence beyond Silicon Valley, the business community and the automotive and space industries. Not owning Twitter also gives the impression that it is not a tool for his personal propaganda and promotion.
On April 7, Musk is scheduled to inaugurate the Tesla factory in Austin, the fourth production site for the manufacturer of premium electric vehicles. Musk decided to make it a massive party. About 15,000 people are invited at 4:00 p.m. local time to what is called Cyber Rodeo, a mix of cybertruck, the futuristic vehicle introduced in 2019, and the Texan culture.
Musk has suggested that it will be the biggest party ever on Earth. Regardless, he sees the event as an additional opportunity to build his brand and its disruptive abilities.
Launching Space Tourism
Musk wants to complete the disruption of the auto industry. No doubt all of its rivals, those in Silicon Valley as well as those in Detroit, will have their eyes and ears on Austin. Musk recently announced that he is working on part 3 of what he calls his master plan dedicated to revolutionizing transportation.
On April 8 attention turns to SpaceX, which faces a major test. The company is part of the launch of NASA’s first tourism flight to the International Space Station. The Texas company Axiom Space is organizing the Ax-1 mission in partnership with SpaceX.
SpaceX has been granted permission to conduct crewed missions from U.S. soil using its own space-flight hardware. Since then, NASA has tapped SpaceX to ferry professional astronauts to and from the space station on four crewed missions to date.
Depending on the success of Ax-1, NASA’s tourist mission could be the first in a long series of missions to the orbital outpost before it is decommissioned in 2031.
The crew of the Ax-1 includes the Canadian investor and philanthropist Mark Pathy, American entrepreneur Larry Connor, former Israeli Air Force pilot Eytan Stibbe, as well as the commander of the mission and a former NASA astronaut, Michael López-Alegría.
Each of the three newly trained astronauts would have paid around $55 million for the 10-day mission, during which they will live and work alongside the station’s current crew of professional astronauts.
In just one crazy week, the richest man in the world seems to have extended his power and influence even further.