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Elon Must


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Business Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 4/2022 vom 30.03.2022

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Artikelbild für den Artikel "Elon Must" aus der Ausgabe 4/2022 von Business Spotlight. Dieses epaper sofort kaufen oder online lesen mit der Zeitschriften-Flatrate United Kiosk NEWS.
Musk must ? but how far can he go?

Thanks to Elon Musk, we may soon be traveling inside high-speed pods, flying into space and having microchips implanted in our brains. Musk, 50, has already changed the world — and he’s become extremely wealthy while doing it. He began 2022 as the richest person in the world. Bloomberg journalist Matt Levine wrote: “The way finance works now is that things are valuable not based on their cash flows but on their proximity to Elon Musk.”

Musk is known for taking risks and taking on big challenges. Back when NASA was flying the space shuttle, Musk thought he could do it better. In the two decades since he started SpaceX, he’s been proved right. SpaceX was the first private company to fly to the International Space Station and is contracted with NASA to send U.S. astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972.

People are critical of billionaires and their obsession with space, when their ...

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... innovations and huge fortunes could help solve many problems here on earth. But Musk does this, too, at least in part: In February, upon the request of the Ukrainian government, he activated his system of Starlink satellites over that country, enabling broader and faster internet service there after the war with Russia started. War or no war, this was one of SpaceX’s goals in developing reusable rockets. They dramatically cut the cost of launching satellites. And Musk plans to launch thousands of them for the Starlink program to provide fast internet service to every human being and any location on earth.

Known as: A visionary entrepreneur

Net worth: About $245 billion (€215 billion; as of mid-February 2022)

Companies: SpaceX; Tesla, Inc.; Tesla Energy; OpenAI; Neuralink Corporation; The Boring Company

Quote: (on Twitter) “When something is important enough, you do it, even if the odds are not in your favor.”

The two sides of Elon Musk

The question that seems to follow Musk, however, is: At what point do big dreams become unjustifiable risks? Musk hopes that SpaceX’s satellite business will bankroll his project of starting a colony on Mars, but this highly ambitious goal could actually destroy the company. Development of the launch vehicle (called Starship) has proved a huge financial risk. In a letter to SpaceX employees last November, Musk warned: “We face genuine risk of bankruptcy. …We need all hands on deck to recover from what is, quite frankly, a disaster.”

Without question, Musk’s greatest success so far has been Tesla, Inc., which he joined as chairman and biggest shareholder in 2004. The company has supercharged the EV market and, in a relatively short time, become the world’s most valuable carmaker. However, as Tesla enjoys this success, the company faces legal problems. Many blame Musk himself, saying he has promised too much regarding the company’s autonomous driving software. While Tesla warns drivers that its “Autopilot” system requires constant supervision, Musk has said that all Teslas have the hardware necessary for full autonomy. These mixed messages have led to an investigation by America’s traffic safety regulator and made the firm the target of lawsuits, after an alarming number of crashes.

This isn’t the first time Musk’s public statements have caused trouble. He has used social media to attack journalists, whistleblowers and critics. He’s also been criticized for his opposition to unions and taxes. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren has called out the billionaire for not paying his fair share of taxes — in 2018, Musk paid no federal income tax. And early in the Covid-19 pandemic, he broke local health regulations to keep his factories open.

These things matter because being Elon Musk comes with a lot of power and influence — many would say too much power. Musk has about 74 million Twitter followers and, more than once, a tweet from him has caused chaos on the stock market.

In 2018, he was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for falsely claiming he was ready for a private takeover of Tesla. And in January of this year, after Musk briefly spoke about supplychain problems, the share price of Tesla and other EV companies dropped sharply.

Over the years, Musk has had failures as well as successes. Both SpaceX and Tesla have come close to bankruptcy in the past. His companies have missed important targets by months, even years. Musk is not especially worried about this, however, once telling Fast Company magazine: “If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.”

Musk’s innovation drive is not limited to satellites and cars. Neuralink, the brain-chip start-up that he co-founded in 2016, is creating microchip implants for people, for example, who are paralyzed. The chips could enable them to use smartphones and other technologies with their minds — “faster than someone using thumbs,” says Musk. In January, Neuralink announced plans for clinical trials on humans. If the technology works as Musk describes, it would be a medical breakthrough. At the same time, the company has come under fire for experimenting on animals.

TAKEAWAYS

Elon Musk divides opinion like few others. On the one hand, he’s one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time. He is famous for starting highly innovative companies and taking on big challenges. He has also given huge amounts of money to charity.

On the other hand, people worry that Musk has too much power and influence. He’s been criticized for erratic behavior, especially on social media. And some of his companies have faced allegations of sexual harassment and poor working conditions.

“If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough”

And the idea of a billionaire businessman implanting microchips into people’s brains makes conspiracy theorists go wild.

The man behind the Musk

Despite all the controversy, Musk keeps working hard — probably because, since childhood, he’s achieved so much through hard work. He told the U.S. news program 60 Minutes that, while growing up in South Africa, he was often bullied, until he learned martial arts to defend himself. He also showed early signs of intelligence and creativity, and sold his first software code when he was 12 years old. Last year, Musk revealed that he has Asperger’s syndrome, which might help explain some of his uniqueness.

After moving to the U.S., he studied economics and physics. He quit a PhD program at Stanford University to start his first company, Zip2, with his brother, Kimbal. In a speech to college students in California, Musk said he couldn’t afford an apartment at that time, so he slept on a couch in a rented office. “We were so hard up, we had just one computer,” he said. “The website was up during the day, and I was coding at night.” The hard work paid off: In 1999, Zip2 was sold to the computer company Compaq for $305 million, and Musk was a multimillionaire before the age of 30.

On top of everything else, Musk runs other companies, too, working on digital intelligence and public transport. He told the Financial Times that he works 80 to 90 hours a week and doesn’t own a house or go on vacation. “I aim to work as long as I’m able to work and be productive and contribute — that is my nature.”

Perhaps Elon Musk was best described by the U.S. magazine Time, as Person of the Year 2021. The magazine editors say this is not an award but a title for “the person who had the most influence on the events of the year, for good or for ill.”

ESSENTIAL PHRASES

Starting a company

● Two brothers founded the company together.

● It’s a challenge to go from prototype to full production.

● They have found a way to raise enough capital.

Investing in a company

●A new investor has acquired a stake in the firm.

● The shareholders are optimistic about the future.

● The market value of the company is growing.

A bad time to invest

● In my opinion, the company has too many liabilities.

● Investors are starting to panic. The share price has collapsed!

● They’ll be bankrupt soon if they don’t turn things around.