Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, both well-known billionaires and Silicon Valley pioneers, share a common South African heritage. While Musk was born in South Africa, Thiel moved there as a child. Although the two have collaborated extensively in the past, their relationship is said to be complex, with some describing them as polar opposites.
In the early 2000s, Musk and Thiel combined their companies to form a major financial services group. Musk had co-founded X.com, an online bank, while Thiel had co-founded Confinity Inc, a software company that developed an easy payment system. Together, they created PayPal in March 2000, with Musk taking on the role of CEO.
According to Max Chafkin’s 2021 biography, “The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power,” the relationship between Elon Musk and Peter Thiel took a sour turn when Thiel plotted to remove Musk as CEO of Tesla while Musk was on his honeymoon. This incident caused significant damage to their relationship, which has yet to fully recover.
Chafkin characterized the two men as fundamentally different in their approaches to business and risk-taking. Thiel tended to be secretive and focused on limiting risk, while Musk was known for his bold and sometimes uncensored approach. Recently, Musk appeared to criticize Thiel’s perspective on success in a response to a Twitter user. The user had shared two quotes from Thiel about the importance of believing in oneself to achieve success.
Thiel reportedly said, “If you think you’re going to win, it doesn’t mean you’re going to win. If you think you’re going to lose, you will lose.” He also said, “If you think you’re going to get an A on the test, you won’t always get an A+.
If you think you’re going to get an F, you’ll always get an F.” Thiel’s philosophy appears to be that a belief in one’s ability to succeed is crucial, as a lack of confidence can lead to failure. However, Musk seems to hold a different perspective, suggesting that success requires more than just positive thinking.
Elon Musk, disagrees with Peter Thiel’s philosophy on success. While Thiel believes that confidence in one’s ability to succeed is crucial, Musk suggests that hard work and giving something our best shot can lead to success, even when the odds seem slim.
Musk cites his own experience with SpaceX and Tesla as examples, noting that he believed both companies had less than a 10% chance of success when he founded them.
Despite Musk’s doubts, Tesla has become the world leader in electric vehicles with a market value of $613 billion, while SpaceX is valued at around $137 billion and is preparing to launch its first flight to orbit the Earth.
Interestingly, Thiel had invested $20 million in SpaceX when the company was struggling in 2008, helping to keep the company afloat. SpaceX recently announced that it is almost ready for the first orbital test flight of the Starship, the rocket that Musk hopes will help humans reach Mars.