It may sometimes seem like the history of the 21 century is being made by a handful of crazy entrepreneurs and their companies that are making, what initially seemed like, impossible dreams come true. It is likely that in the future, Elon Musk’s contribution to the automobile industry could be viewed in a similar vein to the achievements of Henry Ford, way back in the early 1900s.

The South African entrepreneur, who has a background in physics and economics, would appear to have a feel for where the future of the automotive industry is headed, providing the right chemistry to come up with a winning brand –Tesla – and amassing a personal fortune in excess of 12.7 billion dollars. PayPal is now in his past, while space tourism is what he is looking at for the future, but his present concern is definitely Tesla Motors.

Who is Elon Musk, and what do you need to know about his company?

Elon Musk Started Out as a Video Game Designer

blastarWhen he was only 12 years old, Elon Musk was heavily involved in the world of video games. He designed Blastar, a PC game which is something of a cross between Asteroid and Space Invaders. The player’s goal was to destroy an alien freighter, ferrying status beam machines and Hydrogen bombs.

Eventually, he sold the game’s code for $500 to PC magazine and Office Technology, a pretty slick piece of business for someone yet to hit his teens.

He Ran a Nightclub Out of His Home While in College

Musk studied economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania. During his time there, he made friends with Adeo Ressi – who was a successful entrepreneur himself – and both were keen on moving out of the cramped dormitory in which they lived. Ressi convinced Musk that they should rent a large house off campus.

To pay rent and earn some cash on the side, they would turn their home into a nightclub on weekends. Despite the atmosphere and success of the club, Musk chose to leave the entertainment aspect to Ressi, while he concentrated on the business side.

He Is the Inspiration for Iron Man’s Tony Stark

Iron Man - Tony StarkIn an interview, acclaimed film director, Jon Favreau revealed some interesting points about the making of Iron Man: “When trying to bring out the character of genius billionaire Tony Stark, I struggled with how to make him seem real. When Robert Downey Jr. said to me, ‘We need to sit down with Elon Musk,’ he was right.”

In fact, Musk himself appears in the sequel, with interior and exterior shots of his company, SpaceX also being used.

Musk Co-Founded PayPal

PayPal was initially established in 1998 under the name ‘Confinity.’ It was a service that was intended as a way to send money from one Palm Pilot device to another. Eventually, Confinity merged with, which was an online banking system backed by Elon Musk and which had its focus on payments made between email addresses. PayPal was then born.

Tesla Wasn’t Founded by Elon Musk

Surprisingly, Tesla owes its roots to the pioneering work done by Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard – both highly creative minds and tinkerers, who dreamt of seeing their prototype electric car become a reality.

At the time, Musk was the lead investor financing Tesla’s Model A, but was not yet running the company. However, he soon discovered that the car was too expensive and that the facilities available could not even build it in the first place. Martin Eberhard was removed from his position as CEO and Musk took over, changing the fortunes of the company.

Tesla’s Gigafactory Will Be One of the Largest Buildings in the World

Tesla’s gigantic battery factory, that is currently under construction, will have a sprawl of 5.8 million square feet, which would give it one of the largest footprints of any building anywhere in the world. Upon its completion, the facility will produce enough batteries for 500,000 electric cars every year, roughly equivalent to all of the world’s current production of lithium-ion batteries.

Tesla - Gigafactory

Tesla Motors Is a Relatively Tiny Car Maker

With the number of headlines that feature news on Tesla every day and with all the attention that the company receives, it may come as a surprise to many that it produces a very small number of cars. During its lifetime to date, Tesla has only managed to ship out about 100,000 cars. In comparison, the auto industry in the US sold more than 17 million vehicles last year alone, with a similar number expected this year. Mercedes, BMW and Lexus all delivered more than 340,000 luxury cars in 2015.

Tesla Nearly Collapsed Several Times

In his attempts to create the first independent producer of electric cars, there are some big gambles that Musk has taken, some of which have failed to pay off. During the most recent annual shareholders’ meeting, Musk said that Tesla’s entire life has been a rollercoaster ride. For example, at one point in 2013, Tesla only had cash reserves to run the company for two weeks following its struggles with production of the Model S. The Tesla CEO says that, at the time, he considered selling the company to Google, which was co-founded by his friend Larry Page.

Despite all the ups and downs in his life, it is clearly evident that Elon Musk has made his mark in this world and he will likely be remembered as one of the ‘greats’ in centuries to come.

Who is Elon Musk - Tesla