Elon Musk had quite a busy past before he was the successful businessman we know today. An adolescence straddling South Africa and Canada where he worked on his cousin’s farm and had some jobs that apparently no one would want.
“When I was in high school … I got honors in two areas: physics and computing,” Musk said a few months ago on the Third Row Tesla podcast. “Those were the subjects that I was given the best.”
So, at the time, he thought “most likely he studied physics to work on a particle accelerator” as an adult like CERN.
“I thought, ‘Okay, I want to find out what the nature of the universe is,’ so [I] would go work with people who bang particles together and see what happens,” he said on the podcast.
“You cannot depend on the Government”
But in 1993, when Musk was about 22 years old, his plans on, when a collider to be installed in the United States lost funding and was never carried out.
“What if I’m working on a collider, I spend all these years, and then the government just cancels it? So it was like, ‘I’m not going to do that,’ you can’t depend on the government,” he said on the podcast.
At the time, Musk was a student at the University of Pennsylvania studying physics and economics. After graduating in 1997, instead of working on a particle accelerator, Musk used his computer skills to found his first startup, a city guide software company called Zip2.
In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq for about $ 300 million. Musk used the money from that sale to found X.com, an online financial services platform that merged with Confinity in 2000, and later became PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $ 1.5 billion.
But Musk felt that his purpose was much greater than these Internet companies.
“When I was a child, I had an existential crisis. I was about 12 years old or something like that and I said to myself: ‘What does the world mean? What is this all about? Are we living in a meaningless existence?”
“And I was like, ‘Okay, we don’t really know what the answer is, obviously, but the universe is the answer,'” he said on the podcast.
It is part of the reason why Musk founded the aerospace company SpaceX in 2002, known to all today.