Elon Musk: Man of the year

Billionaire genius Elon Musk is in a league of his own. Always ahead of his time, in 1995 he came out with Zip2, online city guide software for newspapers.

Sunil Rajguru
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Elon Musk

Billionaire genius Elon Musk is in a league of his own. Always ahead of his time, in 1995 he came out with Zip2, which was an online city guide software for newspapers. Then he tried to launch an online bank from scratch, which ultimately ended up in the acquisition of PayPal. A flourishing private space contractor was unheard of, but then along came SpaceX.


Musk turned the battle between fossil fuel cars and electric vehicles on its head by coming out with the Tesla smart car, which probably is the sleekest breed of automobiles around. But he wasn’t done yet and popularized the concept on the Hyperloop and supersized batteries with SolarCity. There’s also OpenAI for the safe use of Artificial Intelligence.

2019 was also a good year for Musk in terms of innovation and he was on top of the Forbes list of innovative leaders, along with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos…

Man & cyborg: This year, Neuralink presented its grand plans for the future where chips will link with brains to form a unique brain-computer interface. Musk has sought FDA approval and hopes to start working with volunteers soon. Declared the company, “We’ve scaled neural recording and stimulation to thousands of channels, providing a clearer picture of activity in the brain.” This is something that Musk feels will help us counter the threat of AI in the long run and help the human species from becoming redundant.


Constellation of satellites: Imagine a worldwide broadband network powered by thousands of small satellites. That’s just another of Musk’s outlandish dreams and this one’s called Starlink. The launches started in 2019 and we already have hundreds of satellites up there with more to follow. They will also have military operations and can be used for scientific research. If this project is successful, then the profits will be used to fund the Mars mission and that’s another one for the future.

Space records: This year SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-1 successfully docked with the International Space Station, the first non-governmental spacecraft to do so. SpaceX also became the “first private company to send a human-rated spacecraft to space”. Similarly the Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Raptor engine also created records in 2019. SpaceX’s Starship (for private spaceflight) has also entered an advanced stage.

Las Vegas Hyperloop: Musk’s The Boring Company began digging under the 200-acre Las Vegas Convention Centre. When the project is completed, they will be able to transport participants at 250kmh. A 15-minute walk for them would end up taking about just a minute.


Tesla Cybertruck: This is a light commercial vehicle that was showcased in 2019. It received lakhs of pre-orders within days. One of the versions is likely to have folding seats. Tesla also said that it was on course to launch a driverless taxi service network.

Largest battery to be bigger: Tesla has been associated with the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia which has the world’s largest lithium-ion battery. They recently announced that there will be a further capacity increase by 50%. Another mega project, Shanghai’s Gigafactory 3, is also nearing completion.

Controversies: Of course that’s not to say there were no Musk controversies this year. He survived defamation charges after he called a cave explorer “pedo guy”. In a demonstration he wanted to prove that his Cybertruck window was bulletproof, but smashed it instead.

There are dangers of Neuralink to be considered and Musk said that it would cure autism, even though it’s not considered a disease.

Starlink has been criticized because it could interfere with astronomical observations and could lead to more space debris. Musk also debuted as a rapper with the song “RIP Harambe”, a tribute to a gorilla which was killed in a huge controversy.