10 Intriguing Facts About Elon Musk


College Dropout to Millionaire

Kimbal Musk
Elon's brother, Kimbal Musk, speaks on stage at the WSJ The Future of Everything Festival at Spring Studios on May 9, 2018, in New York City. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Musk earned degrees in economics and physics from the University of Pennsylvania, which he paid for by turning his rented 10 bedroom frat house into a nightclub on weekends. In 1995, he traveled to Stanford University in California to chase a Ph.D. in applied physics, but after just two days, he dropped out of his classes to become an entrepreneur instead.

That same year, he and his brother Kimbal created Global Link Information Network, which provided online city guides to newspapers like the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. These guides functioned like internet versions of the yellow pages. Although his father claims the money to start this company came from him, Musk says that it actually was from a group of angel investors [source: Strauss].

At first, life was anything but glamorous, as the brothers essentially lived in their office in order to keep their expenses as low as possible. Reminiscing on those days, Musk told USC graduates in a 2014 commencement speech, "We showered at the YMCA and we were so hard-up that we only had one computer. The website was up during the day and I was coding it at night, seven days a week, all the time" [source: Huddleston].

Global Link was later renamed Zip2 and became a big success. In 1999, Compaq Computers saw so much potential that it bought the company for $300 million. Musk's share of the sale came to $20 million, plenty of seed money for his next, bigger idea [source: Hern].