Last updated on
Did You Know? Elon’s Latest and Greatest Revealed! Walter Isaacson, who’s penned the lives of legends like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein, recently took on the Herculean task of chronicling Elon Musk’s life. Here are 16 trivia gems from the biography that got everyone talking.
1. The Elon Musk Biography Buzz
Before its official release on Sept. 12, 2023, Isaacson’s biography, simply titled “Elon Musk,” skyrocketed to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. Talk about pre-launch hype!
2. Isaacson’s Intimate Insight
For two years, Isaacson was Musk’s shadow. He visited SpaceX and Tesla factories, attended board meetings, and even shared a cuppa with Musk’s friends, family, and frenemies.
3. Musk’s Mysterious Childhood
Growing up in South Africa wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Musk. Between schoolyard bullies and a rocky relationship with his dad, Elon’s early years were, let’s say, character-building. Born in Pretoria in 1971, Musk survived Pretoria Boys High School and set his sights on the University of Pennsylvania. There, he bagged not one but two bachelor’s degrees. Physics and economics? Talk about a double threat!
4. The Entrepreneurial Odyssey: PayPal, SpaceX, and… Robots
- PayPal and the X.com Saga: Before it was the online payment giant, it was X.com, co-founded by Musk in the late ’90s. And then eBay said, “$1.5 billion? We’ll take it!”
- SpaceX – Not Just Rocket Science: In 2002, Musk thought, “Why not colonize Mars?” Thus, SpaceX was born. By 2012, they were sending spacecraft to the International Space Station. Casual.
- Tesla’s Electric Dream: Musk zoomed into the automotive scene with Tesla in 2004. From the Roadster to the Model Y, Musk’s electric dreams became everyone’s reality.
- AI Shenanigans: Musk’s AI journey began with OpenAI in 2015. But when Sam Altman turned it into a for-profit, Musk wasn’t having it. Musk’s data from Tesla and Twitter? That’s his ace for AI domination. Humanoid robots and driverless taxis? Just another day in Musk’s world. You can read all about his newest venture, X.AI, here.
5. Daddy Dearest: Errol Musk’s Legacy
In 1989, Errol Musk gave his son some “fatherly advice”: “You’ll never succeed.” Fast forward, and Elon’s not just succeeding; he’s dominating. But the past haunts you, especially when your dad sends you chilly emails calling for financial help with a side of racism. In a 2017 Rolling Stone interview, Elon didn’t mince words, calling Errol a “terrible human being.” On Father’s Day 2022, Errol dropped a bombshell, revealing he had fathered a second child with his former stepdaughter, Jana Bezuidenhout. And if you’re keeping count, that’s two kids after their son, Elliot Rush, was born in 2017. Talk about family drama!
6. Jenna Musk: The Rebel Heiress
Jenna Musk isn’t your typical billionaire’s trans kid. Critical of Daddy’s billions and capitalism, she’s decided to disown her father in 2022.
7. The Musketeer Trio
According to the biography, Elon and Grimes, the cosmic couple, welcomed their third child, Techno “Tau” Mechanicus Musk, in June 2022. And if you thought X Æ A-Xii was a mouthful, Tau brings a whole new level of name game to the table.
8. Musk’s Marital Merry-Go-Round
While he never married Grimes, Elon’s been to the altar more times than most. With three marriages, 11 children, and the heart-wrenching loss of his firstborn, Musk’s personal life is as dynamic as his professional one.
9. Starlink’s Starry-Eyed Stunt
The biography alleges that Musk used Starlink to disrupt a Ukrainian drone attack on Russian ships in a move straight out of a spy thriller. Packed with more boom than a Musk tweet, the drones lost connectivity and harmlessly washed ashore.
10. The Billionaire Bicker: Musk vs. Gates
When Bill Gates tried to educate Musk on philanthropy in 2022, things didn’t exactly go as planned, but Musk started a $5.7 billion charitable fund that year. Why, you ask? Tax reasons, of course! And let’s not forget the generous donation of 11.5 million Tesla shares to a mystery charity. Musk’s take on philanthropy? He believes only a fraction of each dollar donated makes a difference. And as for Gates shorting Tesla’s stock while preaching climate change? Musk didn’t like it one bit.
11. Malaria, Musk, and South Africa’s Vendetta
After being booted from PayPal by Peter Thiel in 2000, Musk thought, “Why not visit South Africa?” Big mistake. According to the new Elon Musk Biography, a game reserve trip later, Musk was battling severe malaria back in California. His take on the ordeal? “Vacations will kill you. Also, South Africa – still trying to destroy me.”
12. Decoding Musk’s Algorithm
Want to colonize Mars? Better have an algorithm for that! Musk’s unique management style, dubbed “The Algorithm,” is all about cutting costs to make those Martian dreams a reality.
13. Server Shenanigans: Musk’s Mad Dash
Picture this: It’s late December 2022, and Musk gets wind of a server relocation challenge at X (formerly Twitter). The estimated timeline? A whopping six to nine months. But Elon, being Elon, decided on a two-week deadline. And in a move that screams, “Hold my rocket,” Musk and his cousins James and Andrew decided to DIY the server move. They rerouted their flight to Sacramento and, with very little help, began the Herculean task of moving servers. By Christmas Eve, they had relocated over 700 racks in just three days. For context, the previous record was 30 racks in a month. But, as with all hasty decisions, X faced technical glitches for two months.
14. When Moscow Met Musk: A Vodka Tale
Imagine Elon Musk, the tech titan, in a Moscow meeting room, calculating the weight ratio of food to vodka. Sounds like a sitcom scene, right? After a wild Parisian night, Musk and his rocket-savvy squad, Jim Cantrell and Adeo Ressi, landed in Moscow. Their mission? To negotiate rocket deals. But according to the Elon Musk Biography, the Russians had other plans, serving them a balanced diet of “tiny nibbles and massive vodka shots.” Result? Musk’s head introduced itself to the table. And the cherry on top? Custom vodka bottles with their faces photoshopped on Mars. Why not?
15. Mars Oasis: Not a Spa, But Close Enough
Before SpaceX, Musk had a dream. A dream called “Mars Oasis.” No, it wasn’t a Martian spa but a plan to send a greenhouse to Mars. Why? To make space cool again and get folks excited about the final frontier.
16. Rudy, PayPal, and the Mob Ambiance
The current X owner, former PayPal pioneer Elon Musk, considered turning the payment app into the next big social network and a bank. And who does he consider recruiting for this grand vision? Rudy Giuliani, then New York mayor. But the meeting felt more like a scene from The Godfather than a tech brainstorm. Musk’s takeaway? It was “like a mob scene.”
The world’s leading news outlets covered the Elon Musk Biography. Here are some of the articles we read to cross-check our facts.
- The New York Times: Elon Musk Biography: Takeaways From a New Elon Musk Biography: Ukraine, Trump and More
- The New York Times: Elon Musk Biography: Walter Isaacson on Elon Musk’s Competing Identities
- The New York Times: Elon Musk Biography: “Book Review: ‘Elon Musk,’ by Walter Isaacson
- The Washington Post: Elon Musk’s Biography: ‘Elon Musk’ by Walter Isaacson, reviewed
- The Guardian: Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson review – arrested development
- The Guardian: Elon Musk Biography: Rudy Giuliani’ mob scene’ turned Elon Musk off seeking advice
- CBS News: Book excerpt: Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson
- Los Angeles Times: Elon Musk, Grimes have a secret third child, biography says
- People: The Elon Musk Biography: How Elon Musk’s Dad Told Him He Fathered Second Child with Stepdaughter
- The Times: The Elon Musk Biography: Bill Gates: Elon Musk was ‘super mean’ to me over Tesla stock
- CNBC: Elon Musk’s Biography: Elon Musk moving servers himself shows his maniacal sense of urgency at X, formerly Twitter
- Sky News Australia: Elon Musk ‘passed out’ during Moscow meeting with Russians after taking vodka shots: book
- Fortune: Elon Musk’s manufacturing and management ‘algorithm’
- The Independent: Elon Musk was on the brink of death after catching malaria on South African safari, book claims