I think of Elon Musk as the real-life Tony Stark. The fictional Tony Stark, industrialist wizard by day and Iron Man by night, was a parallel entrepreneur as well.
The breadth and success of Musk’s parallel ventures are staggering. He became extremely wealthy at 28 after selling Zip2 for $60 million, a company he had started with his brother just four years earlier. Zip2 was an online yellow pages directory that had morphed into an online publishing portal by the time Compaq purchased it.
Elon did all the original programming for Zip2, a skill he learned on his own by reading books. He used his share of the sale, $22 million, to start X.com, an online bank, which he merged with a competitor to form PayPal in 2000. He wasn’t even 30 years old yet. While on his honeymoon a few months later, he was thrown out as CEO. Still believing in the opportunity, he invested more of his own money into PayPal and earned $250 million when it sold to eBay.
This is when Musk started a parallel entrepreneurship path. He launched SpaceX in 2002 after reading about rockets and traveling to other countries to learn about how they’re made, bought, and sold. Later that same year, he became interested in electric cars and started meeting the engineers and entrepreneurs who were building them. He actually introduced the founding team of Telsa to each other and made a large investment into their company. He became Tesla’s CEO in 2008.
For ten years Musk toiled away as the founder and chief executive officer of two major companies, each facing growing pains and setbacks. Fortune would favor this parallel entrepreneur in the long run, and he has recently expanded his portfolio to include OpenAI, Neuralink, and The Boring Company.
He is prolific, ambitious, and successful beyond comparison. A true decathlete of parallel entrepreneurship.