The Biography of Elon Musk

214 views 9 pages ~ 2415 words
Get a Custom Essay Writer Just For You!

Experts in this subject field are ready to write an original essay following your instructions to the dot!

Hire a Writer

Musk is the individual behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, and SolarCity, each of which has positively impacted business and industry (Vance 2015). The book by Vance tells the story of the billionaire, i.e., his path from childhood in South Africa to his arrival in the United States as a 17-year-old. It is evident that Musk studied and also worked hard, and finally became an entrepreneur who takes risks that cannot be taken by ordinary people. As explained by Vance (2015, p. 19), when Musk moved to Los Angeles, “he became a one-man, ultra-risk taking venture capital shop and also doubled down on producing super-sophisticated physical goods in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, two of the most expensive regions in the world.”

            According to the biography by Vance (2015), the primary determinant of the success of Musk is traits and motivations as it is clear that the entrepreneur is a risk-taker who focuses on more than one field. As opposed to the conventional knowledge that in order to become the best at something it is pertinent to focus on that particular field solely, Musk believes in breaking that rule. Musk rejected the logic of “taking a deep breath and wait for the next big thing to arrive” as he invested $10 million into SolarCity, $70 million into Tesla, and $100 million into SpaceX (Vance 2015, p. 19). Whenever possible, the companies would produce things from scratch and also attempt to rethink many endeavors that the solar, automotive, and aerospace industries had accepted as the convention. The expertise of Musk ranges from engineering to rocket science to artificial intelligence and physics; hence his success can be assessed in different fields.

Traits and Motivations

            Motivations and traits can be viewed as determinants of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial success. Several traits are considered pertinent for any entrepreneur. These features are being opportunistic, proactive and self-motivated, innovative/creative, and also visionary with flair, need for independence and achievement, as well as the potential to live with uncertainty and also take greater risks (DeVega 2017, p. 26).

            With the increasing concerns about carbon emission by gas-powered cars, Musk identified an opportunity to create electricity-powered vehicles.  It is through Tesla Motors that Musk tried to revamp how cars are made and sold, and at the same time building a worldwide network for fuel distribution (Vance 2015, p. 19; About Tesla 2017). Besides, the billionaire founded the SolarCity project, and as explained by Vance (2015, p. 20), Tesla recharging stations are found alongside many highways in the US, Asia, and Europe. Therefore, there is proof that the billionaire is opportunistic in that he identified the need for automotive that do not produce carbon emissions, and at the same time, created supercharging stations that are solar-powered. According to Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter, “you have to be the architect of the circumstances as opportunity is something one makes, not something you wait for” (Stone 2015, p. 40).

Also, Musk is visionary with flair as he is “building a futuristic end-to-end transportation system that would enable the US to leapfrog the rest of the world” (Vance 2015, p. 20). The vision of Musk, as well as its execution, has been noted to combine the best practices of John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. As further explained by Vance (2015, p. 5), "Musk was a well-intentioned dreamer and a member of Silicon Valley's techno-utopian club.” This is evident according to the utterance of the billionaire in the course of the interview as he said "I would like to die thinking that humanity has a bright future. If we can solve sustainable energy and be well on our way to becoming a multidisciplinary species with a self-sustaining civilization on another planet, that would be good." (Vance 2015, p. 5) In realizing this vision, Musk unveiled plans for new spacecraft that would allow SpaceX colonize Mars, establish a base on the moon, and also enable commercial travel to anywhere on Earth in less than an hour (Slezak and Solon 2017). These endeavors further confirm that Musk seeks independence and achievement, as well as takes considerable risks in practices such as investing in space technology. As explained by Burns (2011, p. 41), the world has entered into a new age of uncertainty where growing a company requires overcoming endless challenges that are either small or big.

Another significant trait of Musk is creativity as he can make connections between things that do not appear connected. For instance, he created SpaceX, and he had a hard time in “trying to find contractors who could keep up with the pace and creativity of SpaceX” (Vance 2015, p. 103), and also in executing the company’s vision. Similarly, the creation of ultimately revealed the high level of creativity, confrontational style as well as relentless drive of Musk (Vance 2015, p. 68).

It is clear that Musk, in his accomplishments, has been motivated by various influences such as situational factors, antecedent aspects. Antecedent influences include his family, and as he says, "my family fears that the Russians will assassinate me," due to his endeavors in SpaceX. Besides, his previous employment, as well as skills and experience gained, have been critical to his success as an entrepreneur. On the part of situational factors, Musk can be said to be motivated by the fact that he moved to the US a 17-year-old teenager who was committed to making a difference. Besides, he identified an economic opportunity through reading books from different fields. The striking part of the billionaire’s character as a young boy was “his compulsion to read” as “it was not unusual for him to read ten hours a day” (Vance 2015, p. 32).

Question 4: What is corporate entrepreneurship, and what types of firms can promote and reap benefits of corporate entrepreneurship?

Despite its definition being contentious, corporate entrepreneurship could be described to entail the development of new opportunities and ideas within established firms, and that directly enhances organizational output as well as an improved competitive position of an existing business. Companies in the modern world are faced with enormous turbulence regarding changes in economic, legal, technological and regulatory environment, and not to forget the resource and labor markets (Singer, Alpeza, and Balkić 2009, p. 1). In this light, new business conditions require primary and constant transformations in ways through which companies function. With this, it becomes possible for the firms to find new paths and sources of long-lasting competitive advantage. Corporate entrepreneurship has been identified as an essential technique that enables businesses to maintain their competitive edge. In the narrow sense, corporate entrepreneurship represents both formal and informal activities that are aimed at creating new business ventures within existing firms (Singer, Alpeza, and Balkić 2009, p. 2).

Even though there exists a common perception that large, incumbent companies rarely utilize radical product innovations (Chandy and Tellis 2000, p. 1), big firms are notably better placed to promote and gain the benefits of corporate entrepreneurship. As explained by Burns (2011, p. 494), big companies should be good at innovation since they have more resources and experience; hence they can they can address the emerging challenges. However, the reality is that newer and smaller firms are the ones that are usually innovative, especially the radical ones. The underlying problem is that traditional management addresses effectiveness and efficiency at the expense of innovation and creativity, and at the same time, focuses on control instead of empowerment (Burns 2011, p. 494). Corporate entrepreneurship for big firms should, therefore, focus on establishing new business and also allocating new market and at the same time further pursuing business (Brizek 2004, p. 2). Large established firms such as Tesla Motors are capable of innovating and being entrepreneurial.

For large car manufacturer such as Tesla Motors to exploit such creativity as the electric vehicle (EV), it needs not only an incentive but also an opportunity to innovate. The incentive entails what motivates the firms to increase their competitive advantage as well as broaden their market share through innovations (Swann 2009; Bakker, van Lente, and Engels 2012, p. 421). On the other side, opportunity refers to the investment that the firm is expected to make to support the creativity (Wesseling, Niesten, Faber, and Hekkert 2015, p. 519). According to the resource-based view of the firm, assets of a firm are viewed as a more direct indicator of the organization’s opportunity to invest (Silverman 1999, p. 1110). Literature suggests that large car manufacturers (or the incumbents) only have a chance for utilizing new technologies since they have the assets necessary to exploit the innovation (Chandy and Tellis 2000, p. 2). However, they lack the incentive since they do not want to jeopardize their profitable products that are developed on the current technology (Swann 2009, p. 136; Christensen 2015, p. 3).

It is pertinent to note that companies reveal their opportunity to be creative according to the number of assets they have set apart for a given technology. The case of Tesla Motors to promote and also enjoy the benefits of corporate entrepreneurship is evident considering the high level of investment in developing electronic vehicles. The principal goal of Tesla was to end the addiction of the United States to oil and "with an investment of $6.5 million, Musk had become the largest shareholder of Tesla and the chairman of the company" (Vance 2015, p. 119). Entrepreneurs are viewed as organizational products since they typically emerge from the industry or related firms (Audia and Rider 2005, p. 14); hence the concept of innovation by big companies is likely to be beneficial. 

For big firms to reap the benefits of such emerging innovations, the role of corporate catalysts is particularly essential. Since companies have increasingly decentralized innovation and strategic activities, and as such promoted agility, they have become hospitable to catalysts (Anthony 2012, p. 48). As explained by Anthony (2012, p. 48), firm catalysts are leaders driven by the organizational mission and who corral firm resources that are outside their traditional limits of control in order to address the numerous challenges they face.

Question 5: What is the impact of entrepreneurship on the economy and quality of life?

Entrepreneurship has been on the rise due to the increased integration of economies as a result of globalization and also the current move to liberalize closed economies such India and China. If an economy is to grow fully, entrepreneurship should be allowed to thrive (Welsch 2003, p. 6). One of the impacts of entrepreneurship is the innovation it creates to an economy. The other positive impact of entrepreneurship is increased competition that ultimately reduces monopolies and oligopolies in the marketplace. Such effect is not only beneficial to customers but also to the economy. The economy also benefits in that there is increased productivity, hence a rise in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Despite the positive impacts of entrepreneurship, the endeavor is associated with adverse outcomes, particularly plundering of resources that are likely to have disastrous effects on the environment (Bruck, Naude´, and Verwimp 2013, p. 4).

Another benefit is creation of employment opportunities since one of the reasons individuals become entrepreneurs is failure to find suitable jobs. According to Vance (2015, p. 42), from South Africa, Musk “spent the next year working a series of dd jobs around Canada”. When individuals go through such hardships, they have high chances of engaging in entrepreneurship. As explained by Naude´, Amoro´s, and Cristi (2014, p. 527), entrepreneurs also play a significant role in the economy as they increase the happiness of other people by providing them with goods for consumption and job opportunities. According to Clark (2010, p. 437), lack of employment is a major cause of unhappiness among individuals in an economy. Vance (2015, p. 93) explains that employees who accompanied Musk in the control of SpaceX were guaranteed of “years of job security”, which is as well linked to better quality of life.

Other than creating job opportunities, it is worth noting that entrepreneurs are happier themselves considering their higher job satisfaction, being healthier, and also being less prone to depression (Naude´ et al. 2014, p. 527). For instance, Vance (2015, p. 89) describes the story of Mueller who “was hanging out in the workshop of John Garvey, who had left a job at the aerospace company McDonnell Douglas to start building his own rockets”. Therefore, it is evident that being one’s boss creates high level of happiness compared to being employed.


About Tesla, 2017. [Online] Available from Tesla: [Accessed January 10, 2017]

Anthony, S. D., 2012. The New Corporate Garage: Where today's most innovative and world-changing thinking is taking place, Havard Business Review, pp. 45-54.

Audia, P. G., and Rider, C. I., 2005. A Garage and an Idea: What more does an entrepreneur need? California Management Review, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 6-28.

Bakker, S., van Lente, H., and Engels, R., 2012. Competition in a technological niche: the cars of the future, Technology Analysis and Strategic Management, vol. 24, no. 5, pp. 421-434.

Brizek, M. G., 2004. Explaining corporate entrepreneurship: A contemporary literature investigation, Journal of Management and Marketing Research, pp. 1-13.

Bruck, T., Naude´, W. A., and Verwimp, P., 2013. Business under fire: Entrepreneurship and violent conflict in developing countries, Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol. 57, pp. 3–19.

Burns, P., 2011. Entrepreneurship and Small Business Fourth Edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chandy, R. K., and Tellis, G. J., 2000. The incumbent’s curse? Incumbency, size, and radical product innovation, Journal of Marketing, vol. 64, pp. 1–17.

Christensen, C. M., 2015. The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail.

Watertown, Massachusetts: Harvard Business Review Press.

Clark, A., 2010. Work, jobs, and well-being across the millennium. In E. Diener, J. Helliwell, and D. Kahneman, International differences in well-being (pp. 436-464). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

DeVega, I., 2017. Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Global Entrepreneurship Research Association.

Naude´, W., Amoro´s, J. E., and Cristi, O., 2014. ‘‘Surfeiting, the appetite may sicken’’: entrepreneurship and happiness, Small Business Economics, vol. 42, pp. 523-540.

Silverman, B., 1999. Technological resources and the direction of corporate diversification: toward an integration of the resource-based view and transaction cost economics, Management Science, vol. 45, pp. 109–1124.

Singer, S., Alpeza, M., and  Balkić, M., 2009. Corporate Entrepreneurship: IS entrepreneurial behavior possible in a large company? Entrepreneurship, pp. 1-8.

Slezak, M., and Solon, O., 2017. Elon Musk: SpaceX can colonise Mars and build moon base. [Online] Available from The Guardian: [Accessed January 9, 2017]

Stone, B., 2015. How I Did It: Twitter's Cofounder on Creating Opportunities, Havard Business Review, pp. 39-43.

Swann, G., 2009. The Economics of Innovation: an Introduction. Elgar: Cheltenham.

Vance, A., 2015. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping Our Future. Virgin Books.

Welsch, H. P., 2003. Entrepreneurship: The Way Ahead. New York: Routledge.

Wesseling, J. H., Niesten, E. M., Faber, J., and Hekkert, M. P., 2015. Business Strategies of Incumbents in the Market for Electric Vehicles: Opportunities and Incentives for Sustainable Innovation, Business Strategy and the Environment, vol. 24, pp. 518–531.

January 19, 2024

Business Science

Subject area:

Elon Musk

Number of pages


Number of words




Writer #



Expertise Elon Musk
Verified writer

LuckyStrike has helped me with my English and grammar as I asked him for editing and proofreading tasks. When I need professional fixing of my papers, I contact my writer. A great writer who will make your writing perfect.

Hire Writer

This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Eliminate the stress of Research and Writing!

Hire one of our experts to create a completely original paper even in 3 hours!

Hire a Pro

Similar Categories