The PayPal founder wants to develop the technologies necessary to make life multiplanetary—while running two large companies at the same time
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.