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Last month, Elon Musk stepped down as chairman of Tesla. The exit was brought about by a settlement of fraud charges brought by US market regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against the Tesla chief for "manipulating the market".
The present trouble for the 47year-old, maverick inventor-entrepreneur started with an August 7 tweet. In it, Mr Musk had revealed that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share and had funding secured. This had led to a surge in the Palo Alto, US-based electric vehiclemaker's (e-vehicle) stock price, leading to intervention of the SEC. The SEC sued him in late September for making "false and misleading" statements to investors.
As a part of Mr Musk's settlement, both Tesla and Mr Musk will each pay a $20 million fine to the market regulator. Mr Musk has stepped down as Tesla's chairman but continues to be its CEO. Robyn Denholm, a Tesla board member and former CFO of Australian telecom company Telstra, has assumed charge as the e-vehiclejobs, maker's new chairperson.
Such crises are not new to the Tesla chief. He has been in many such trying times before setting up Tesla and even after taking charge of the e-vehicle-maker in 2004. Born on June 28, 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, Mr Musk moved to Montreal, Canada, in 1989 and after working in low-paid he relocated to the US in 1992.
He graduated in Physics and Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Young Musk would always think of doing something that would have great impact on the future of humanity's destiny. After his double graduation, he zeroed in on three issues - the internet, transition to renewable energy sources and space colonisation - and was convinced that these issues would change the course of human destiny.
Together with his brother, Kimbal Musk, he set up his first IT company Zip2 in 1995. It was a time when the internet was experiencing a period of rapid growth and development. However, nobody had ever earned a considerable fortune from it. Mr Musk's company was one of the first ones to do this. Zip2 created a platform where newspapers - including credible ones like The New York Times - could offer their customers some additional commercial services. In 1999, the biggest search engine of that time AltaVista bought Zip2 for $307 million in cash and
$34 million in securities. This deal set a record for selling a company for cash.
In 1999, he went on to set up X.com, which a year later got merged with Confinity and was renamed PayPal. After PayPal was bought by eBay in 2002, Mr Musk turned his focus to space engineering and alternative energy sources. In 2004, Mr Musk invested $70 million in Tesla Motors, founded by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning in 2003. Tesla revolutionised modern transportation with launch of Tesla Roadster sports e-car, with Mr Musk actively participating in its designing. Soon to follow from the Tesla stable were premium sedan Tesla Model S and other e-cars and e-trucks.
The biggest challenge for Tesla and Mr Musk now is to roll out Model 3 in large numbers. At $35,000 for the base model, Model 3 will transform Tesla from a niche car-maker for the wealthy to an affordable car company for the masses. With Mr Musk still the CEO of Tesla, the Model 3 challenge is likely to be overcome soon.