With a fortune of more than $20 billion, Elon Musk may be the world’s 53rd wealthiest person, but the entrepreneur’s current sleeping arrangements are more pauper than prince. Here’s why one Californian man felt compelled to help him get a good night’s rest.
Born in South Africa in 1971, Elon Musk was largely raised by his electromechanical engineer father after his parents’ divorce in 1980. By the age of 12, he’d mastered the art of computer programming. And after briefly moving to Canada, he obtained degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business, respectively. He eventually gained U.S. citizenship in 2002.
Musk co-founded his first company with brother Kimbal in 1995. This was web software provider Zip2, which four years later Compaq bought for $307 million. Musk then used his share of the proceeds to form online financial service X.com, which later became PayPal. He left the company in 2000 over a dispute about infrastructure, but as a major shareholder still received $165 million after eBay acquired it.
Musk first moved into the field he was to become most renowned for in 2002 when he founded SpaceX. The aerospace manufacturer and transportation company was created with the goal of colonizing Mars. It’s since been responsible for several space milestones and partnered with NASA to fly 13 International Space Station missions.
In 2004 Musk joined the board of directors at Tesla, Inc., the Californian company specializing in energy storage, electric vehicles and manufacturing solar panels. As with SpaceX, Musk set a major goal – to make electric cars much cheaper to the public. By 2018 the company had produced more than 300,000 vehicles.
And Musk’s business dealings certainly don’t end there. In 2015 he co-founded non-profit artificial intelligence research company OpenAl. A year later he added Neuralink, a neurology firm dealing in the development of brain-computer interfaces, to his portfolio. And shortly after, he formed tunnel-making and infrastructure-based The Boring Company.
Musk has also built a reputation as a forward-thinking inventor. The Hyperloop, a fast-speed transportation system, and the Musk electric jet, a supersonic aircraft capable of vertical take-off, are just two of his major ideas. He’s also leading the fight against global warming through his various innovative ventures.
As a result, Musk has become one of the most important and influential figures in today’s society. In 2016 he placed 21st on Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Most Powerful People. While in early 2018 the same publication reported he had a total net worth of a whopping $20.8 billion, reaching No.53 on the global rich list.
But not everything always runs smoothly in Musk’s world. In April 2018 Tesla had to halt the manufacturing of its Model 3 because it had production issues. The month previously it voluntary recalled nearly 125,000 Model S vehicles, saw its credit status downgraded by Wall Street and had to deal with the deadly crash of a car fitted with one of its systems.
It’s little wonder, therefore, that Musk admitted he was feeling the pressure. “I’m definitely under stress, so if I seem like I’m not under stress then I’m gonna be clear, I’m definitely under stress,” he told CBS. Musk also claimed Tesla had become complacent and that its new technology should gradually have been implemented into the Model 3, rather than all at once.
Musk also admitted to CBS that he often ends up spending entire nights at the Tesla factory conference room in Fremont, California to work on the problems. “When things get really intense, I don’t have time to go home and shower and change,” he said. Musk then pointed out a particular piece of furniture that subsequently attracted a ton of attention.
Indeed, when he finally wants some sleep there, Musk is forced to use an uncomfortable gray sofa as a makeshift bed. “Last time I was here, I actually slept literally on the floor, ’cause the couch was too narrow. It’s terrible. This is not a good couch,” he told host Gayle King. And it was this surprising revelation which prompted one user to make a stand.
Indeed, so perturbed was he by Musk’s sleeping arrangements that California native Ben Sullins decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign to provide him with a bigger sofa. Named “Buy Elon Musk a Couch,” the page soon achieved its thousand-dollar target. In fact, just a few days after its launch, more than $6,000 had been pledged to the campaign.
Sullins explained on the GoFundMe page why he’d done it. “Elon Musk is transforming our world to run on sustainable energy and use sustainable forms of transportation,” he said. “Lately, he’s been sleeping at the Fremont factory in an effort to improve Model 3 production. This is the couch he is sleeping on. As a community, we cannot let this stand.”
Once the story went viral, Sullins also expanded on his intentions in an interview with Buzzfeed, “I felt like he needed some help and he wasn’t going to do it for himself,” he said. “If we could help him get a better night’s sleep, perhaps Tesla will do better, which will lead to better things for all of us.”
Buzzfeed also contacted several pledgers to ask why they’d given their hard-earned money away to one of the world’s wealthiest men. San Diego tech CEO Andrew Gazdecki said, “Elon needs the best possible rest for the sake of bettering mankind. I think as Elon Musk supporters the greatest gift we can help give him [is] enriching his health.”
Detroit entrepreneur Alex Linebrink replied, “He’s building the freaking future. I want his 90-minute power-nap to be as effective as possible so his brilliant vision of the future (his future, my future, and your future) comes true as fast as possible.” While megafan Mark Zeitler said, “He is a huge inspiration and I use any opportunity I can to help evangelize all things Elon.”
Sullins’ GoFundMe page also revealed how the multi-billionaire would receive his gift. If Musk responded to the campaign on Twitter, then Sullins would organize a collective vote on which sofa to buy. Once the decision had been made, he’d personally travel to the Tesla HQ to film its delivery.
But if Musk didn’t respond to the campaign, then Sullins would instead donate the cash raised to a charity chosen by a poll. However, it looks as though the campaign will result in both a new sofa and a large sum of money for charity. Indeed, in a video posted on YouTube Sullins revealed that the campaign had been swamped by generosity.
Sullins told YouTube viewers that after seeing the campaign, several sofa companies had offered to donate a new couch for Musk entirely free of charge. This would then allow all the thousands of dollars raised to be given to a charitable cause instead. Even better, Tesla agreed to match the final sum pledged for charity too.