When you are an influencer, you expect your life to interest the greatest number of people.
This desire grows when one becomes one of the most powerful and influential personalities in the world. At this time, people, and especially the press, are digging into your life to check if the legend is true.
Imagine when the personality in question is a billionaire who was the richest man on the planet and promised a unique dream to the world: to conquer Mars in our lifetime. The same personality has also forever changed the mode of transport and has promised a sustainable energy economy.
The personality in question is Elon Musk, the serial and whimsical entrepreneur, who, last October, acquired Twitter for $44 billion, after seeking the opinions of users of the platform, and who sold more than $10 billion of Tesla shares after having organized a poll on Twitter on the subject.
The Father Started a Rumor
Musk is also one of the few CEOs who interacts with users on social networks without a filter. He does not hide his feelings and sometimes uses harsh words, which make him real to the people. There is a Musk brand, like there was a Steve Jobs brand, the co-founder of Apple (AAPL) – Get Free Report. Unlike Jobs, to whom he often compares himself, Musk wants to appear without mystery. He wants to be an open book.
Born in South Africa, his story is basically that of a self-made billionaire, who left his birthplace at the age of 17 to follow his mother to Canada. He immigrated to the United States to pursue his college studies in prestigious universities. The entrepreneurial spirit that he had from a very young age was nourished by his curiosity and his experiences, which led him to co-found successful companies. The problem is that this version is regularly contested by press articles or posts on social networks, indicating that he comes from a privileged background, which was an important springboard to become who he is today.
One assertion has been circulating: His family owned an emerald mine in Africa. Musk has said more than once that this is false, but it keeps coming back and clearly annoys him. Last month, he offered a $1 million in cryptocurrency Dogecoin to anyone who can prove it.
The problem is that the belief about Musk growing in affluence was spread by his estranged father, Errol, during two interviews with Business Insider South Africa in February 2018.
In these interviews, Errol Musk asserts, without evidence, that he once held a half share in an emerald mine in Zambia. He tells an unverified anecdote that, at age 16, Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal sold two emeralds from the mine to Tiffany & Co. on Fifth Avenue in New York for $2,000.
“We were very wealthy,” Errol told Business Insider. “We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe.”
But in 2020, Errol seems to have regretted his 2018 remarks and said in a Facebook post that Elon did not owe him his success. Rather, he said, Elon did it all on his own.
“My very limited involvement in a business transaction in Zambia in the 1980’s had nothing to do with South Africa and that business can hardly be deemed to be have been inappropriate. Neither was it beneficial to Elon’s success in the USA, starting in about 1999,” he wrote.
But the rumor persists and returns regularly.
‘Haven’t Inherited Anything’
Elon Musk, in a long message on Twitter, has once again denied this assertion. But he is not satisfied with a simple denial. He takes the opportunity to recount his unhappy childhood and his father’s lies.
“I grew up in a lower, transitioning to upper, middle income situation,” the billionaire wrote on Twitter on May 6. “But did not have a happy childhood. Haven’t inherited anything ever from anyone, nor has anyone given me a large financial gift.”
“My father created a small electrical/mechanical engineering company that was successful for 20 to 30 years, but it fell on hard times. He has been essentially bankrupt for about 25 years, requiring financial support from my brother and me.”
Nevertheless, the billionaire says his father “does deserve credit for teaching me the fundamentals of physics, engineering and construction, which is more valuable than money, but did not support me financially after high school in any meaningful way.”
The father’s financial difficulties led him to ask his two sons for help. Musk has a brother, Kimbal, and a sister, Tosca.
“Our condition of providing him financial support was that he not engage in bad behavior. Unfortunately, he nonetheless did. There are young children involved, so we continued to provide financial support for their well-being,” Musk said.
Errol Musk has seven children.
“Regarding the so-called ’emerald mine’, there is no objective evidence whatsoever that this mine ever existed. He told me that he owned a share in a mine in Zambia, and I believed him for a while, but nobody has ever seen the mine, nor are there any records of its existence,” Elon Musk continued.
“If this mine was real, he would not require financial support from my brother and me.”
Musk’s poignant post hit a slew of Twitter users.
“So sorry you have to justify yourself again and again😢,” a Twitter user commented. “It only brings back bad memories.”
“Yeah 😔” the tech mogul responded with a sad emoji.
Musk, the Entrepreneur
After graduating high school at 17, Musk left South Africa for Canada to avoid supporting apartheid through compulsory military service, and also to try to seize economic opportunities in the US.
He attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and in 1992 transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in physics and economics in 1995.
At 24, he entered a Stanford Ph.D. program in physics, but left after just two days, because he believed that the internet had much more potential to change society than work in physics did.
Before SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report in 2003, Musk founded Zip2 in 1995, a company which provided maps and business directories to online newspapers. In 1999, Zip2 was acquired by computer maker Compaq (HPQ) – Get Free Report for $307 million.