Tesla and SpaceX are some of the most innovative companies today, making huge strides in the electric car and commercial spaceflight industries.
At the helm of both companies is CEO Elon Musk, the South African-born self-made billionaire.
Musk has often been compared to the Tony Stark character as portrayed in the “Iron Man” movies. He knows how to have a good time when he’s on top, and doesn’t hold back when he’s criticised.
He’s also the sexiest CEO in the world.
Elon Musk is America’s most badass CEO, and these photos prove it.
Alex Davies contributed to this story.
Born in South Africa in 1971, he was the oldest of three children and was incredibly curious from a young age. After working his way through all of the books he could find, he started reading the encyclopedia. When he was 10, he was administered a test from IBM that showed he had one of the highest possible aptitudes for computer programming.
He started taking computer classes but soon outpaced his teacher. When he was 12, he developed and sold the code for his first video game -- called 'Blastar,' the game was set in outer space. He and his brother wanted to open their own arcade, but their parents weren't on board with the idea.
He moved to Canada in 1988, at the age of 17. Two years later, he started attending Queen's University in Ontario, where he met his first wife, Justine. He later transferred to UPenn, where he got his bachelor's degree in engineering and business. He then intended to go to Stanford to get his ph.D., but he ended up dropping out of the program after two days.
After dropping out of school, he immersed himself in the Silicon Valley business world. Musk's first big success was PayPal, which he helped create with Peter Thiel, Luke Nosek, Ken Howery, and Max Levchin. eBay bought the company for $US1.5 billion in 2002.
After making a fortune selling PayPal, he didn't just quit to take things easy. Instead, in 2002 he launched SpaceX, with the goal of making space travel available to consumers.
On June 14, 2012, Musk celebrated the first successful mission by a private space company to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
In May, he unveiled the Dragon V2 capsule, a manned space craft that will help transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station. SpaceX has received a $US2.6 billion contract from NASA to develop the capsule.
And as if his space research wasn't enough, he's bet his future on electric cars. He joined Tesla Motors in 2004, becoming CEO and product architect in 2008.
The critically-acclaimed Tesla Model S can travel roughly 265 miles on a single charge. Musk recently said that the car may one day have a 500-mile range, thanks to research Tesla is doing on graphene-based anodes.
He has his hand in many other projects, too. When he got annoyed with terrible traffic on California's I-405, he contributed $US50,000 to an advocacy group working to improve the freeway.
And last summer, Musk revealed the Hyperloop, his idea for a transportation system that could send people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour, using pressurised tubes. Then he said he'd build a prototype himself if no one else does.
Oh, and because cars and space aren't enough, Musk is also involved with SolarCity, a solar energy company.
That doesn't mean it's been easy. At the end of 2008, he fought through a near nervous breakdown to keep both Tesla and SpaceX alive when both nearly went bankrupt simultaneously. Rather than save one and let one die, he split all his remaining money between them, taking a risk and saving both.
He laughs off the competition. When asked last August by a Morgan Stanley analyst for his thoughts on BMW's electric i3, he giggled for a good ten seconds before saying, 'I really do encourage other manufacturers to bring electric cars to market.'
Motor Trend named the Model S its car of the year in 2013. He took the opportunity to mock former presidential contender Mitt Romney, who called Tesla a loser during the campaign. Romney 'was right about the object of that statement,' Musk said, 'but not the subject.'
In August, when a SpaceX Falcon 9R rocket exploded shortly after launch, he tweeted, 'No injuries or near injuries. Rockets are tricky.'
But he's revered by others in the tech industry. In March, Google CEO Larry Page said he would rather hand over his wealth to Elon Musk rather than to a philanthropic cause. 'He wants to go to Mars. That's a worthy goal,' Page told Charlie Rose. 'You're working because you want to change the world and make it better.'
Last October, The Atlantic hailed Musk as possibly the greatest inventor alive. Vanity Fair named him the no. 1 disruptor in their 'New Establishment' issue this month.
Senators want to be photographed with him, too. Here he is with California's Dianne Feinstein, who attended the opening of Tesla's manufacturing plant in 2010.
He shared a laugh with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda at a press conference announcing Toyota would take a $US50 million stake in Tesla.
Look at the grin on the Toyota CEO's face when he's sitting in a Tesla Roadster given to him by Musk.
He spent $US1 million to buy the Lotus submarine car used in the 1977 James Bond film 'The Spy Who Loved Me.' And no one was shocked when he explained, 'What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.'
Elon Musk had both twins and triplets with his first wife. Here, his five sons help him out with the ALS 'Ice Bucket Challenge.'
Elon Musk's second wife was gorgeous British actress Talulah Riley. They wed at a historic castle in Scotland and have attended plenty of glamorous events together, like Vanity Fair's Oscar party. Though the couple divorced in 2012 (with a reported settlement of $US4 million), they revealed in a March 2014 '60 Minutes' interview that they're living together again.
Elon Musk knows how to celebrate a victory -- here he is at the Tesla factory when it started delivering the Model S.
It's easy to see why Musk is likened to playboy-inventor-superhero Tony Stark of the 'Iron Man' films.
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