Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, said he ended up with six figures in student debt after college, in a series of tweets about his education and background.
He opened up about these years of living in debt, in response to a few Twitter users who claimed Musk’s father owned an “emerald mine” to pay for his “outstanding upbringing and education”. That’s not true, Musk said.
Musk tweeted on December 28: “That’s a pretty horrible lie. He didn’t own an emerald mine and I made my way through college and ended up with about $100,000 in student debt. I couldn’t even afford a second PC in Zip2, so it was programmed At night and the website only worked during the day. Where does this bs come from?”
“I left South Africa on my own when I was 17 with only a backpack and a book bag. I worked on my mother’s cousin’s farm in Saskatchewan and a lumber mill in Vancouver. I went to Queen’s University with scholarship and debt, then moved to Queen’s University with scholarship and debt, then I moved on to University of Pennsylvania/Wharton and Stanford.”
Soon after Musk left Canada, his mother, May, also moved to Canada, along with Musk’s brother, Kimball, and sister Tosca, according to the book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Search for a Fantastic Future,” by Ashley Vance. (Mae was born in Canada and already has citizenship, which she passed on to Musk and his siblings.)
Musk’s parents were divorced most of his life. Musk’s father, Errol, an engineer, married May when she was 22, and Musk was born soon after. Errol and May divorced after about nine years. According to the book, Errol owned one of the largest houses in Pretoria, South Africa, and took his children on numerous trips abroad. Musk and Kimball lived with Errol for a while, but their relationship is complicated.
Musk attended Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, in 1989. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania on a scholarship in 1992 and graduated in 1997. After graduating, he founded his first startup, a city guide software company called Zip2.
“We started Zip2 with about $2k from me plus my overclocked home computer, about $5,000 from my siblings and $8k from Greg Curry (such a good guy – he missed a lot),” Musk tweeted as well, crashing. Zip2 Finance. “My father provided 10% of the $200,000 funding round later, but by then the risk has been reduced and the round will happen anyway.”
In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 to Compaq for approximately $300 million. Musk used the money from that sale to found X.com, an online financial services platform that merged with Confinity in 2000, later becoming PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion.
May also responded to the allegations via Twitter on Saturday, defending Musk’s refutation.
“To add to the fact, we went to Boston Chicken in Philadelphia for Thanksgiving because we couldn’t buy a turkey. And we spent three weeks making our rental apartment livable in Toronto.”
May added, “We lived at 4000 Yonge Street, my nephew reminded me that during the holidays he, Elon and Kimball took turns sleeping on the bed, sofa and carpet. A friend said our apartment was too small. I didn’t think so, we still had a lot of fun.” .
In the past, May has discussed her struggles as a single mother.
“We couldn’t have dinner outside. I had a client with a butcher. Once a month he would give me roast beef. I would cut it into four pieces, freeze three pieces and cook one so we could eat the meat once a week,” May told Huffington Post in 2015.
At one point, she had to work five jobs to make ends meet, including working as a model, she told Forbes in 2018.
Musk began founding SpaceX in 2002, followed by Tesla Motors in 2003. In 2016, he founded Neuralink, and a year later, The Boring Company. Today, Elon Musk is worth $26.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
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