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The sky’s the limit for visionary CEO of Tesla – SFGate

The entrepreneur many today consider the next Steve Jobs hardly seemed like a visionary genius in 1995 when he stood uninvited in the lobby of Netscape Communications’ headquarters in Mountain View, trying to muster enough courage to launch a career.

Fresh out of college with degrees in physics and economics, the 24-year-old Musk had already tried e-mailing the company his resume. Netscape, makers of the first mass Web browser, never replied. So Musk, who had left his native South Africa to find a tech job, showed up in person. But he was too shy to approach anyone.

“What am I going to say: ‘Please give me a job’?” Musk recently recalled. “They’d be like, ‘Call security – there’s this weird kid here.’ ”

He left empty-handed.

The image of Musk retreating from Netscape seems hard to reconcile with a self-made billionaire who now speaks about colonizing Mars. But success, especially repeated success, has a way of silencing doubt, even among those around you.

“I’ve seen those situations where it makes sense to push people beyond what they think they can do, because usually people can do more than they realize,” Musk said in an interview. “When the company’s life is at stake, everyone has to work as hard as possible. Anything less than that seems crazy to me.”

Musk oversees a trio of companies – Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity – that sell electric cars to China, ferry supplies to the International Space Station and blanket America’s rooftops with solar panels. His proposed “Hyperloop” would whisk commuters from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 760 mph through tubes along Interstate 5.

The 42-year-old with a soft voice and penetrating stare maintains a grueling schedule.



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