He co-founded PayPal and sold it to eBay for a cool US$180 million profit. He could have retired rich and young (he was 32 then) but he needs to save the world. Elon Musk, the boss and architect of SpaceX, Telsa Motors and SolarCity is often compared to Tony Stark, the genius engineer played by Robert Downey Jr in the Iron Man movies. That’s because Musk’s life is closely resembles that of Stark.
Actually, if you care to watch Iron Man 2 again, parts of the movie were shot inside and outside of SpaceX. You know, the part where Tony Stark designs his machinery by waving his hand in the air. Heck, do you know that Tony Stark character was actually developed based on Elon Musk himself? Not only Elon is an entrepreneur, he is also a genius engineer. By age of 12, he wrote a game which he sold for US$500.
In 1995, age 24, Musk moved to California to begin a PhD in Applied Physics at Stanford, but left the program after two days. He started Zip2 instead, and sold the company to Compaq for a cool US$300 million. His SpaceX even managed to get a US$1.6 billion contract from NASA for Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX has produced more than 100 operational Merlin 1D engines, currently the world’s most powerful motor.
Tesla Motors meanwhile, has been selling electric cars to over 31 countries, although the sales is nowhere near giants such as Toyota, Mercedes Benz or BMW’s gasoline or diesel engines. But Daimler and Toyota source their lithium-ion batteries from Tesla. And when the Tesla CEO tweeted that his electric car company is unveiling a new product that’s “not a car” on April 30, it raises millions of eyebrows.
Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 30, 2015
What could be the new product that Iron Man Elon plans to unleash to the world? Perhaps the answer could be found by what Musk has said back in February. He told everyone that Tesla was working on a battery that collects energy from the sun during the day and stores it for use at night when people are home. And since he owns SolarCity, the second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States, the jigsaw puzzle could be just that.
Perhaps Apple should acquire Tesla, as some shareholders have been urging CEO Tim Cook to do. Although Tim avoided the question of such acquisition, he may just do that if Apple’s pet project – Project Titan – doesn’t take off. It could be more cost-effective to purchase Tesla Motors than developing electric vehicle from the scratch, which Apple is doing now. But that doesn’t mean Mr Elon is prepared to sell though (*grin*).
If the successful all-electric Tesla Model S sedan is any indicator, Elon Musk was not merely boasting about leveraging his lithium-ion battery technology to be used in people’s houses and businesses. Morgan Stanley admitted that Tesla’s energy-storage product could be “disruptive” in the U.S. and Europe (and soon the rest of the world) as customers seek to avoid utility fees by going “off-grid” (damn those blood-sucking utility companies).
If this home battery really takes off in a huge way, it could mean the end of business to utility companies, especially those which are making good money through monopoly. There could be one-off installation and people could buy a new battery after its life ran off. Of course, it has to be cost-effective and safe, not to mention approvals needed from governments to make it happen.
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