Elon Musk is probably the greatest entrepreneur alive, but he still screwed up sometimes along his way. You don’t believe it?
In an interview with Foundation, Elon Musk tells the story of how he failed to get a job at Netscape after he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania:
“I didn’t get a reply from Netscape, and I actually tried hanging out in the lobby, but I was too shy to talk to anyone. So, I’m just like standing in the lobby. It was pretty embarrassing. I was just standing there trying to see if there’s someone I can talk to, but I just couldn’t. I was too scared to talk to anyone. So I left.”
In 2000 the PayPal board fired Musk as CEO while he was in Australia on a honeymoon and fundraising trip.
CTO Max Levchkin favored Unix while Musk wanted to use a Microsoft platform. The conflict of interest resulted in power struggle, during a difficult period in company at that time. PayPal was losing as much as $10 million per month.
“It’s not a good idea to leave the office when there are a lot of major things underway, which are causing people a great deal of stress,” says Musk of the firing.
Today SpaceX seems to be a pot of gold, but in 2008 people thought of it as a money trap. Musk had poured $100 million of his own money by then, but its first three rockets exploded before reaching orbit.
The fourth launch succeeded, which helped the company get a $1.6 billion deal with NASA, but had it failed – and there was plenty of reason to think it would have, given the company’s streak of bad luck to that point.
Later in 2016, SpaceX’ $50-million Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a pre-launch check in 2016 and destroyed Facebook’s $200-million satellite (built to improve internet access to 14 African countries) along with it.
Elon Musk is only a human like us after all, and fails just everyone else.