Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos are not extreme entrepreneurs. At least, not compared to Elon Musk.
Elon Musk has long been on my personal list of “notable entrepreneurs”, but it wasn’t until Wired published “Elon Musk’s Mission to Mars” that I realized just how much of an extreme entrepreneur he is. The article is well worth the read but I will summarize Elon’s extensive resume:
- At 12 years old, he created a videogame that he sold to a computer magazine for $500 — essentially a million dollars when you are 12.
- In 1995 he drops out of university to start an online publishing platform called Zip2
- 4 years later, Musk sells Zip2 for over $300 million.
- A year later, he founds PayPal
- In 2001, he establishes the Musk Foundation for renewable energy, space and medical research as well as for science education
- PayPal goes public and is then sold to eBay for$1.5 billion — at the same time, Musk founds SpaceX
- Invests in Tesla Motors — building high-end electric cars
- Can you believe this list still goes on???
- Becomes involved in renewable energy by helping to create Solar City, which provides solar power systems for buildings
- Rounds out his resume through his involvement with SpaceX
Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the others mentioned at the beginning of this article have completely dominated their industries while dabbling in other sectors, yet none have a resume as diverse as Elon Musk’s. Richard Branson is the only close comparison; his launch of Virgin Galactic puts his ambitions on a similar scale. However, Musk has one major advantage: Branson is focused on getting people to orbit the earth —
Musk aims to put people on Mars.
Coming from an engineering background, gives Elon the ability to dominate a variety of industries from a technical standpoint. For example, since founding SpaceX, Musk has been able to reduce the cost of building rockets by 10-fold. Such a cost reduction could save an organization like NASA billions of dollars. The initiative to aim to put people on Mars was spurred from his distaste with NASA’s current timeline to put people on Mars.
As it turned out, given current costs of rockets, it looked like NASA would never have the funding to actually get people to Mars. Musk set out to change that and reducing the cost of rockets was the first step. The crazy part is that the SpaceX team has already succee
ded in dramatically reducing the cost of rockets. Not only that, but SpaceX is also the first company to launch a shuttle that successfully connected with the International Space Station.
The team is now focused on building cheap rockets that are able to land casually on the martian surface.
How many entrepreneurs can say they are working on a project of that magnitude? It is for this reason, as well as his overall experience across diverse industries (tech, energy, space exploration) that I consider Elon Musk to be an extreme entrepreneur.
Can you think of any other extreme entrepreneurs? Leave a comment down below with anyone you think fits the bill.