Five big Elon Musk ideas that didn't work out as planned

Five big Elon Musk ideas that didn't work out as planned
Elon Musk terminates $44 Billion Twitter deal, shares drop in premarket trading

If there's one thing Elon Musk is, it's ambitious.

The 51-year-old has big ideas about the world, from brain-chips that will help people suffering from neurological condition to making electric cars desirable.

And so far he's been pretty successful (richest-person-in-the-world levels of successful) but like any entrepreneur, with every success comes a whole lot of failures.

"Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough." Musk once said.

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The South African-born billionaire may have made his fortune through his many business ventures but there are plenty that didn't work as planned.

Here are five projects Musk has been apart of that have not worked out according to plan.


In 1999, Musk wanted to create an online banking platform that provided checking and savings accounts, brokerages, and insurance.

With a $12 million investment, Musk and four other people started X.com to serve that purpose.

Although the company had a good start, things got rocky when Musk and another founder got into power struggle over the position of CEO. The already messy situation got worse after the company merged with Confinity.

Musk took position of CEO since he had the most shares, but while on his honeymoon in Australia the board voted to change CEO from Musk to Peter Thiel.

Eventually X.com was renamed PayPal.

The Boring Company Tunnels

Musk started the infrastructure and tunnel construction company, The Boring Company, in 2016 with the hope to solve transportation issues in California.

Although it "started as a joke", Musk says he began thinking of the idea more seriously realizing underground transportation could solve street parking and traffic problems.

Initially, Musk pitched the idea of loop tunnels for cities that would link two traffic-heavy areas together. Projects were proposed and nearly started in Chicago, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, but all were abandoned.

There are only two Boring Company tunnels that have come to fruition - a 1.14 mile test tunnel in Los Angeles and a 1.7 mile transit loop system underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).

The LVCC loop system uses Tesla Model 3 and Model X cars to shuttle people from one side to another, reducing a 25-minute walk to a 3+ minute car ride.

But it has been subject to criticism.

The tunnel was projected to shuttle 4,000+ people per hour but as of date has only hit 1,300 person per hour. Videos on social media have also shown traffic jams within the tunnels. Plus people fear driving through the extremely narrow tunnels due to claustrophobia.


One of Musk's more ambitious ideas is a sub project of The Boring Company tunnels called the Hyperloop. The concept was not created by Musk but he did publish white papers in 2013 outlining how the system could operate.

Essentially the Hyperloop is a high speed transportation system that would allow passengers to travel 600+ mph in small pods. Theoretically the system would make a trip from Washington DC to New York less than 30 minutes.

At one point, Musk told the public the federal government gave him 'verbal approval' for the Hyperloop but government agencies denied this.

Additionally, many engineers and technology experts criticized Musk's progressive idea for being 'impractical' and 'futile'.

Rescuing 12 boys from a cave in Thailand

In 2018, Musk was inspired to help rescue 12 boys and two adults from a cave in northern Thailand using a mini submarine.

In what he called a "kid-size" submarine, Musk had 10 of his engineers build the mini sub out of 'rocket parts' to aid in evacuating the children and adults from the cave which had flooded with water.

However the head of the cave operation said to the New York Times that Musk's invention was "not practical" for the mission.

“Even though the equipment has state of the art technology, it does not fit our mission in the cave,” The head of the mission added.


Most recently, another 'started as a joke' project was Musk's desire to acquire over the social media platform Twitter for $44 billion.

The Tesla CEO said he wanted to make Twitter better than before by "enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans".

Although Musk made a serious bid to Twitter which was accepted it was clear there was going to be some kinks to work out before Musk's acquisition could come to fruition.

Ultimately, Musk pulled out of the deal citing Twitter's refusal to allow him to conduct an independent analysis of spam bot accounts on the platform.

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