I’ve always wanted to be part of something that would radically change the world. In 1995, that was the Internet, which led to PayPal. After it sold, I wanted to create a low-cost Mars mission that would get people excited about space travel. The idea was to land a vehicle with a greenhouse on Mars and establish life there. The problem was finding a rocket. It would have cost about half a trillion dollars for one mission; rockets are not reusable. To make life multiplanetary, you need a transport system that’s fully and rapidly reusable. That would lead to a dramatic reduction in costs. In 2002, I started SpaceX to solve those problems.
I run both [electric car company] Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX myself. It’s a heavy workload, and I’ve never really wanted to run companies. Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion I was better than the CEOs we hired.