Elon Musk: Billionaire's venture that ‘could’ve been biggest company on Earth’ revealed

Back in March 1999, Elon Musk co-founded a little known company called X.com, which offered online financial services and e-mail payment services. He funded the new venture with £8million ($10m) from the sale of a previous business. A year after it was founded, X.com merged with Confinity – a company that possessed a money-transfer service called PayPal. Given the success of the service, the company renamed to PayPal in 2001, but the relationship between Mr Musk and other directors turned sour a year prior to this.

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Mr Musk was ousted in October 2000 from his role as CEO due to disagreements with other company executives over his desire to move PayPal’s Unix-based infrastructure to Microsoft Windows.

In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which Musk received US$165 million. Before its sale, Musk, who was the company’s largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares.

In July 2017, Musk purchased the domain X.com from PayPal for an undisclosed amount, stating that it has sentimental value to him.

During a podcast interview in January, Mr Musk claimed that had his colleagues listened to and implemented his preferred approach, the business would have been the biggest on the planet

Elon Musk:

Elon Musk: He played a crucial role in PayPal (Image: getty)

Elon Musk:

Elon Musk: He left PayPal after a disagreement with colleagues (Image: getty)

He told Third Row Tesla: “If PayPal had executed the plan that I wanted to execute on, I think it would probably be the most valuable company in the world.

“On the other hand, that’s not all good though. On the other hand a lot of super-talented people would have stayed.

“Because PayPal got acquired by Ebay not long after.

“To think of the companies that came out of PayPal and the so called ‘PayPal mafia’ – Youtube, Yelp, LinkedIn.

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Elon Musk:

Elon Musk: Musk founded Tesla (Image: getty)

“So in retrospect it is maybe a good thing that PayPal didn’t achieve those things because all of these other companies would have at least been delayed or may not have existed.”

The interviewers then asked what Mr Musk thought about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, to which he replied that he’s “neither here nor there on Bitcoin”.

He added: “There are transactions that are not within the bounds of the law — there are obviously many laws in different countries — and normally cash is used for these transactions.

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Elon Musk:

Elon Musk claimed Youtube may not exist if PayPal had gone down his preferred route (Image: getty)

Elon Musk:

Elon Musk also founded Space X (Image: getty)


“But in order for illegal transactions to occur, the cash must also be used for legal transactions. You need an illegal-to-legal bridge. That’s where crypto comes in.”

While concerned about illegalities, Mr Musk maintained that he is not being “judgmental about crypto.” In Mr Musk’s view, the governments overreach in certain aspects.

He continued: “I think there’s a lot of things that are illegal that shouldn’t be illegal. I think that sometimes governments just have too many laws about the missions that they should have, and shouldn’t have so many things that are illegal.”