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By Allana Akhtar
March 12, 2018
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulates teams competing on the Hyperloop Pod Competition II at SpaceX's Hyperloop track in Hawthorne, Calif., . The Hyperloop system built by SpaceX is approximately one mile in length with a six-foot outer diameter. The WARR team from Tech University Munich won the Hyperloop Pod Competition II with a peak speed of 324 kilometers per hour (201 mph
            SpaceX Musk, Hawthorne, August 27, 2017.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk congratulates teams competing on the Hyperloop Pod Competition II at SpaceX's Hyperloop track in Hawthorne, Calif., . The Hyperloop system built by SpaceX is approximately one mile in length with a six-foot outer diameter. The WARR team from Tech University Munich won the Hyperloop Pod Competition II with a peak speed of 324 kilometers per hour (201 mph SpaceX Musk, Hawthorne, August 27, 2017.
AP—REX/Shutterstock

Elon Musk isn’t much of a planner.

When the billionaire first founded his rocket-ship company SpaceX, he had no idea how it would make a profit selling products that have a high likelihood of exploding.

“I didn’t really have a business plan,” Musk said during a surprise appearance at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin this week. “I had a business plan way back in the Zip2 days, but these things are always wrong, so I just didn’t bother with a business plan after that.”

Despite his lack of foresight, Musk has built SpaceX into a multibillion-dollar companyworth close to $21 billion.

Musk first launched the aerospace startup with $100 million of his own money in 2002, and didn’t successfully launch a rocket until six years in. Since then, SpaceX has sent multiple spaceships in the Earth’s orbit.

SpaceX isn’t the only company Musk created without any planning. He said his most recent venture, the tunnel infrastructure startup The Boring Company, “started as a joke because it would be a funny name for a company.”

Jonathan Nolan, creator of Westworld and the moderator of Musk’s SXSW interview, recalled how he even thought Musk was joking as he talked about tunnel transportation — to which Musk responded, “I was, I was joking.”

There aren’t many projections of The Boring Company’s valuation, but the business did sell branded hats and flamethrowers, making $700,000 and $3.5 million respectively.

Beyond his companies, Musk took a host of audience questions on artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, life on Mars, and even performed a sing-and-dance rendition of “My Little Buttercup.”

Musk also addressed criticisms regarding his plans to colonize Mars as just an “escape hatch for rich people” because not many people will want to go due to the dangerous and labor-intensive conditions on a foreign planet.

“For the early people who go to Mars, it will be far more dangerous,” he said. “It reads like Shackleton’s ad for Antarctic explorers: difficult, dangerous, good chance you will die.”

He also gave his own thoughts on what kind of businesses he’d like to see on Mars: “I think Mars should really have great bars… The Mars bar.”

The Tesla founder ended his panel by revealing who his greatest inspiration is.

“Well Kanye West, obviously.”

You can watch the full interview below:

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Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

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Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

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