“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat,” – Steve Jobs
This famous quote certainly holds true for two of the richest men in modern history. Both Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk innovated their way to the top. They took advantage of the internet boom and made billions of dollars. Their epic rivalry has given the meme world a new genre : “Elon Musk versus Jeff Bezos” However, their journey to the pinnacle of humanity is accompanied by rigorous learning, entrepreneurship and vision. The two were crazy enough to think they could change the world and in the end ,they did.
Let’s look at their journeys.
Elon Musk and his empire
Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa on 28th June 1971. His mother was a Canadian dietician and father, a South African electrochemical engineer. He had an ugly childhood, as he was bullied and even beaten throughout his school years. This made him an avid reader. After school, he studied in the in the University of Pretoria for five months. Thereafter, he moved to Canada and then to the USA. In 1997 he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics. He dropped out of a PH.D in material sciences from Stanford University .
In 1995 Musk, Kimbal and Greg Kouri founded Zip2, a software company. The software acted as a virtual city guide to the newspaper publishing companies. Musk sold the company to Compaq in 1999 for $307 million. He received $22 million for his 7% shares. He founded X. com in 1999 which provided financial services. However, the company was merged with Confinity to avoid competition. It has its own payment service called PayPal, which was more popular than X.com. The board ousted Musk as the CEO because of some issues. The company was renamed PayPal in 2001 and was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Musk earned $100 million from the deal.
Musk gave the initial capital for SolarCity, founded by his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive in 2006. Tesla acquired the company for $2 billion in 2016 and merged it with its battery storage division to create Tesla energy. He also co -founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company to integrate AI with the human brain. In 2016, they found The Boring Company to dig underground tunnels. The chief aim of the company is to make transportation easier. Meanwhile, he had already announced the idea of Hyperloop in 2013. The concept of Hyperloop revolves around traveling underground in a vacuum pod at the speed of 1200km/h which is faster than an airplane.
We will discuss SpaceX and Tesla in the coming sections.
Jeff Bezos and his kingdom
Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen was born on January 12th, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His mother was only 17 years old when she had him and his father left them. In 1968 she married a Cuban immigrant, Miguel Mike Bezos, and Jeff’s surname was changed to Bezos. He spent a lot of time at his grandfather’s ranch in Texas. Who, he says had an immense influence on his success. During the time he attended his high school, he worked at McDonald’s as a line cook in the breakfast shift. He was a high school valedictorian, National Merit Scholar and a Silver Knight winner in 1982. In 1986, he graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in electrical engineering and computer science.
Career and Startups
After graduating from college, he was offered jobs at Intel, Bell Labs and Anderson Consulting. He joined FITEL, a fintech startup where he was tasked with building a network for international trade and worked at D.E. Shaw & Co. from 1990 to 1994. He became the company’s fourth senior vice -president at 30 years old.
But then he quit his job and wanted to set up an internet startup company. He founded an online bookstore named Amazon in his garage in 1994. Initially he named the company Cadabra but later changed it because the letter “A” came first in the alphabet. He warned his investors that there was a 70% chance his company would fail. But the company made unimaginable profits. In 1998, the company expanded to video and music along with other consumer products. Presently, Amazon is the $1.7 trillion which is higher than the GDP of most countries in the world.
Jeff Bezos acquired Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million cash through a limited liability company Nash Holdings. He envisioned to increase the flow of free information with no government interference. Although the move was highly criticized globally.
SpaceX vs Blue Origin
Both Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are enthusiastic about space exploration. The centi billionaires want to set up a human settlement outside the earth. Bezos, even in his graduation speech, expressed his desire to construct a human colony in space with amusement parks, houses, clubs, etc. After initial success of Amazon, he founded Blue Origin in 2000, but kept its operations secret. The company’s motto is “Step by Step, Ferociously”. By 2006 the company gained attention when Bezos starting gaining enormous areas of land in Texas. He announced the company’s plan to make space flight cheaper and safer. In 2015, the New Shephard vehicle launched successfully and also made a vertical landing. This led to him announcing the company would start commercial human flights by late 2010s but the date was deferred.
The company unveiled the New Glenn orbital launch vehicle, expected to take flight in 2022. They unveiled the Blue Moon lander in 2019 as crew carrying lunar lander which could carry up to 6.5 T to the moon. The company is currently valued at $13 billion. Jeff Bezos himself funds the company by selling $1 billion worth of Amazon equity every year. He declared that the company would charge $200,000 to $300,000 per space flight. He and his brother are all set to be the first space passengers in July 2021. The New Shephard vehicle will be used for the flight.
Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002. He is currently the CEO and the chief engineer at the organization. The company pioneered commercial spaceflights with its current valuation shooting up to $74 billion. But the initial failed launches of the company almost made the company bankrupt. Ever Since the first successful launch of Falcon-1 in 2008, the tides have turned. Through its Dragon spacecraft it became the first private to launch a cargo mission to the ISS. The company is a pioneer in reusable spacecrafts with the landing of Falcon 9 Flight 20 in 2015. It also broke ISRO’s record of launching most satellites (143) in a single spacecraft .
The Starship project comprises a system of reusable rockets. It is a giant project to explore Mars and other planets. However, the most ambitious project of the company is the Starlink which aims to provide satellite internet to the entire world. To achieve this, the company aims to put a constellation of over 4, 000 cross linked satellites into the 1,100 km orbit. The company expects the massive program to cost more than $10 billion.
Amazon and Tesla
Although the business magnates have a special passion for space exploration and human settlements in space. Majority of their wealth comes from other enterprises. Jeff Bezos is the former CEO and current Executive Chairman of Amazon. The company is now the world’s largest e-commerce company. It employees over 6,50,000 people across the world. The company now sells over 12 million products. Bezos has diversified the company into every major business like web services, games, video streaming, bookstore, payment system, etc. This multifarious company has made Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world and 5th most powerful man on the planet.
Elon Musk is the CEO, CTO and chief product architect of Tesla. He joined the company in 2004 as a member of the board of directors. Thereafter he oversaw the design of the company’s first electric sports car Roadster. Since it has become a pioneer in electric cars. Its Model 3 car is the world’s best – selling electric car. The company now tops the Fortune 500 list of most valuable automobile company with a market cap of $678 billion. The company is now planning to produce affordable cars to capture the markets in Asia.
The quest for success and money has taken over the world today. People strive for wealth before gaining excellence. The global icons envisioned to help humanity grow, being rich was never the goal. Their contributions brought change in billion of lives through e-commerce, electric cars, online payments, space travel, etc. The duo serves as an inspiration for the present and future generations. We are lucky to witness the advancement of humanity with the epic ” Elon Musk versus Jeff Bezos ” saga.