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Is a 'Lack of Focus' Behind Elon Musk’s Ongoing Success?

A sketch of Musk's proposed Hyperloop capsule with passengers aboard
A sketch of Musk's proposed Hyperloop capsule with passengers aboardPhotograph by Tesla Motors via AP Photo

A few weeks ago, Elon Musk revealed his initial designs for the Hyperloop to the world. Musk has labeled the super-speed transit system a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table.” Whatever the final designs are, Musk likely hopes the end product will look like disruptive innovation for mass transit.

The Hyperloop represents Musk’s attempt to disrupt a sixth industry. He began with news, dropping out of graduate school and founding Zip2 as a content-publishing platform for newspapers. With the money earned from selling Zip2, Musk turned to banking, co-founding the company that would grow into PayPal and be acquired by EBay. After that sale, Musk made the transition to aerospace. He founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, which has dramatically pushed launch technology forward and even replaced the space shuttle as the system for supplying the International Space Station. While still working on SpaceX, Musk shook up the automobile field when he co-founded Tesla Motors, where he still serves as head of product design. Musk was also the impetus for SolarCity, one of the dominant providers of solar energy services in the United States. Musk remains chairman and largest shareholder at SolarCity, even as he heads Tesla and SpaceX.