Humanities › History & Culture Biography of Elon Musk Share Flipboard Email Print Pool / Pool / Getty Images History & Culture Inventions Famous Inventors Famous Inventions Patents & Trademarks Invention Timelines Computers & The Internet American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Mary Bellis Inventions Expert Mary Bellis covered inventions and inventors for ThoughtCo for 18 years. She is known for her independent films and documentaries, including one about Alexander Graham Bell. our editorial process Mary Bellis Updated February 17, 2019 Elon Musk is best known for being the co-founder of PayPal, a money-transfer service for Web consumers, for founding Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX, the first private company to launch a rocket into space and for founding Tesla Motors, which builds electric cars. Famous Quotes from Musk "Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.""It is where great things are possible" [Musk on moving to the USA] Background and Education Elon Musk was born in South Africa, in 1971. His father was an engineer and his mother is a nutritionist. An avid fan of computers, by the age of twelve, Musk had written the code for his own video game, a space game called Blastar, which the preteen sold for a profit. Elon Musk attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned two bachelor's degrees in economics and physics. He was admitted to Stanford University in California with the intention of earning a PhD in energy physics. However, Musk's life was about to change dramatically. Zip2 Corporation In 1995, at the age of twenty-four, Elon Musk dropped out of Stanford University after just two days of classes to start his first company called Zip2 Corporation. Zip2 Corporation was an online city guide that provided content for the new online versions of the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune newspapers. Musk struggled to keep his new business afloat, eventually selling majority control of Zip2 to venture capitalists in exchange for a $3.6 million investment. In 1999, the Compaq Computer Corporation bought Zip2 for $307 million. Out of that amount, Elon Musk's share was $22 million. Musk had become a millionaire at the age of twenty-eight. That same year Musk started his next company. Online Banking In 1999, Elon Musk started X.com with $10 million dollars from the sale of Zip2. X.com was an online bank, and Elon Musk is credited with inventing a method of securely transferring money using a recipient's e-mail address. Paypal In 2000, X.com bought a company called Confinity, which had started an Internet money-transfer process called PayPal. Elon Musk renamed X.com/Confinity Paypal and dropped the company's online banking focus to concentrate on becoming a global payment transfer provider. In 2002, eBay bought Paypal for $1.5 billion and Elon Musk made $165 million in eBay stock from the deal. Space Exploration Technologies In 2002, Elon Musk started SpaceX aka the Space Exploration Technologies. Elon Musk is a long-standing member of the Mars Society, a nonprofit organization that supports the exploration of Mars, and Musk is interested in establishing a greenhouse on Mars. SpaceX has been developing rocket technology to enable Musk's project. Tesla Motors In 2004, Elon Musk cofounded Tesla Motors, of which he is the sole product architect. Tesla Motors builds electric vehicles. The company has built an electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster, the Model S, an economy model four door electric sedan and plans to build more affordable compact cars in the future. SolarCity In 2006, Elon Musk co-founded SolarCity, a photovoltaics products and services company with his cousin Lyndon Rive. OpenAI In December 2015, Elon Musk announced the creation of OpenAI, a research company to develop artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity. Nueralink In 2016, Musk created Neuralink, a neurotechnology startup company with a mission to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence. The aim is to create devices that can be implanted in the human brain and merge human beings with software.