Hardly a day goes by without my reading something new about Elon Musk, he of Tesla, solar roofs and trips to Mars fame. But one thing many do not know about Musk, was how he got his start in business: through maps and GIS-lite. I was surprised. From the London Review of Books:
The (Musk) brothers’ first venture was Zip2, an early internet company that fused business information with maps. Now that we all use Google Maps or variations thereof a zillion times a day, the utility of this idea seems obvious, but it wasn’t in 1995, and the brothers struggled hard, their first office a studio in Palo Alto with a blocked toilet that was ‘literally a shitty place to work’. Musk worked flat-out, at times living in the office, showering at the YMCA, and asking early arrivals at work to give him a kick in his sleeping bag to wake him up so he could get back to work. Zip2 struggled, found a niche selling its technology to newspapers, struggled a bit more, and was on the edge of being overtaken by competitors when, in February 1999, Compaq Computer bought the company for $307 million in cash. Musk and his brother made $22 million and $15 million respectively, and Musk went straight out and sank the money into his next business idea.
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Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and intelligent maps around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter:
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