Against all odds, Elon Musk was able to achieve success with Tesla and SpaceX

Elon Musk has made Tesla and SpaceX a resounding success. But that wasn't what he originally predicted according to a recent article in CNBC. In September, Musk actually tweeted, "To be frank, in the early days, I thought there was >90% chance that both SpaceX & Tesla would be worth $0." 

Above: Elon Musk at Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory (Flickr: Steve Jurvetson)

All in all, “it took an utterly insane amount of work to move the SpaceX & Tesla success probabilities above ~zero,” Musk tweeted. “I thought our chances of success were so low that I didn’t want to risk anyone’s funds in the beginning but my own,” Musk earlier noted in his “Master Plan, Part Deux,” which he posted on the Tesla blog back in 2016.

Fast forward and, according to CNBC, Tesla has a current market value of about $379 billion. This year, Tesla became the world’s most valuable automaker after its market capitalization surpassed Toyota’s for the first time on July 1. Meanwhile, SpaceX is valued at $46 billion, according to an August funding round.

As Tesla and SpaceX grew, Musk also dabbled in some other fascinating startups including Neuralink, OpenAI, and The Boring Company. He also inspired efforts from others to make the Hyperloop a reality.

So what's the backstory? It turns out an entertaining recap of Musk's personal history was brought-to-life by 3D animator, Andy Front, in a 5-minute animated video published back in 2018. The award-winning animation has garnered over 3 million views on YouTube to date. 

Above: The 3D-animated Elon Musk story (YouTube: Andy Front)

Musk's remarkable endeavors stretch all the way back to his childhood. Early on, kids were bullying him in school. But that didn't stop his entrepreneurial drive — even at a young age. 

As a kid, Musk created a video game named Blastar (which can still be played online). He was just 12 years old at the time and earned $500 from a magazine who published the video game’s source code.

Musk’s first startup Zip2, was co-founded with his brother Kimbal and a family friend Greg Kouri. Zip2 provided online city guides for newspaper publishers. Musk went on to make a cool $22 million when Zip2 was acquired by Compaq for $305 million.

Musk’s next venture was, an online payment solution eventually became Paypal. Musk, according to CNBC, made about $200 million off the $1.5 billion sale of PayPal to eBay in 2002, used about $100 million to start SpaceX in 2002 and invested $6.3 million in Tesla in 2004. 

So what does the future hold for Elon Musk? The end of Front's animated story forecasts a future where Musk finally reaches Mars. He's exploring the red planet when, suddenly, the original Roadster (along with Starman) falls from the sky — an entertaining twist to an already-epic tale.


Written by: Iqtidar Ali. An earlier version of this article was originally published on Tesla Oracle.