Elon co-founded Tesla and continues to oversee the company’s product strategy — including the design, engineering and manufacturing of more and more affordable electric vehicles for mainstream consumers. As Chairman and Product Architect, he helped design the ground-breaking Tesla Roadster, for which he won an Index and a Global Green award, the latter presented by Mikhail Gorbachev. In October 2008, he took on the additional responsibility of CEO, overseeing daily operations as the company was ramping up Roadster production and accelerating the development of its second vehicle, the Model S.
Elon launched Tesla’s regional sales and service centers across two continents and in May 2009 secured a $50 million investment and strategic partnership from Germany’s Daimler. He spearheaded a successful cost-down program that enabled Tesla to achieve profitability in July 2009. He guides development of the Model S, the all-electric family sedan that is produced at the Tesla Factory in Northern California.
Elon has been fascinated by electric cars for two decades. After earning bachelor’s degrees in physics and business from the University of Pennsylvania, he worked briefly on ultracapacitors at Pinnacle Research in Silicon Valley to understand their potential as an energy storage mechanism for EVs. He planned to do graduate studies at Stanford in materials science and applied physics but put school on hold to start Internet companies Zip2 and PayPal. In addition to his Tesla duties, he serves as CEO and CTO of SpaceX, and he’s Chairman of SolarCity.