Billionaire and entrepreneur Elon Musk has accomplished more by the age of 43 than most people would ever dream to achieve in a lifetime. Today, he has a long list of labels that follow him around, including co-founder of PayPal, CEO of both electric-car maker Tesla Motors and rocket and spacecraft company SpaceX, and chairman of solar energy system company SolarCity . Some of his current goals include sparking an electric-vehicle revolution, enabling multi-planetary life, bringing the Internet to all parts of the world, and replacing high-speed trains with a pod-shooting tube called the Hyperloop.
Clearly, this dude is one smart cat. Heck, he dropped out of a Stanford Ph.D. program for high-energy physics after two days, when he realized the program seemed to be limiting his ambition. Shortly afterward, he sold the first company he founded, Zip2, to Compaq, and netted $22 million for himself - the beginning of a fortune that would balloon to an estimated net worth of $12 billion today.
With this sort of track record, some investors might be interested in the companies Musk is running just because he is running them. Fortunately, two of them are publicly traded: Tesla Motors and SolarCity. While his involvement at Tesla as CEO is much greater than his time spent at SolarCity as chairman, both companies are core to the future he imagines: electric vehicles everywhere and a proliferation of affordable solar panels paired with stationary energy storage, or batteries storing energy.
The case for Tesla
Daniel Sparks: While Tesla's revenue today primarily comes from sales of electric vehicles, the company is strategically positioned to also benefit from the fast-growing residential solar market. Indeed, Musk said in Tesla's most recent quarterly conference call that the company plans to unveil its Tesla home battery, to be paired with solar panels, soon.
"We have the design done and it should start going into production probably in about six months or so, " Musk said.
Best of all, if the wild success of Tesla's Model S is any indication of how its planned Model 3 (a model planned to cost half the price of its Model S and scheduled to launch in 2017) will perform in the market, Tesla might not even need the energy storage market to continue to grow revenue at rates around 50% annually for years. Energy storage could simply end up being the icing on the cake.
SolarCity is bringing solar energy to the masses. Image source: SolarCity.
The case for SolarCity
Travis Hoium: Electric cars are reinventing the way we think about vehicles, and solar energy is revolutionizing the way we think about energy. At the heart of that is SolarCity, which is turning average electricity consumers into electricity suppliers, turning a century-old electric industry on its head.
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