July 25, 2021

5 updates on Elon Musk’s Texas ventures from Tesla to SpaceX

Multi-hyphenated billionaire Elon Musk recently revealed that he lives in a $50,000 prefab tiny home in Boca Chica, Texas, that he rents from his aerospace company SpaceX. Although he says that is his primary home, many of his business ventures are quickly growing in Austin.

Here’s an update on five of his startups, from Tesla to his Austin-based philanthropic foundation.


Tesla

The $1.1 billion Tesla Gigafactory in Southeast Travis County is growing each day as crews work to make good on Musk’s promises: initial limited production by the end of the year and as many as 10,000 jobs. The construction site has attracted acolytes such as the Tesla Owners Austin and local elected officials as well as speculation.

The factory will produce the Model 3 sedan, Model Y SUV and Cybertruck, at least one of which has made its Central Texas debut. Tesla sold 201,250 cars in the second quarter, more than twice as many as it did in the same period last year, despite a global chip shortage, according to a July 2 press release.

In addition to construction, the electric carmaker is in the midst of a local hiring spree, with more than 250 Austin-based jobs posted on its website.

Although the factory is still under construction, questions are already swirling about future projects. The entity Tesla used to buy the site owns more than 2,500 acres along SH 130, according to a May 13 report by the Austin Business Journal. Experts suggested it could be used for Musk’s other ventures or serve as the future home of Tesla HQ, following its founder from California to Texas.

SpaceX

Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX is not currently hiring in the Austin area but does have scores of open positions in Brownsville and McGregor, where it has a launch facility and rocket development facility, respectively.

However, SpaceX will break ground on a new “state-of-the-art manufacturing facility” in Austin related to its broadband Starlink project, according to job listings posted in March.

Starlink is a forthcoming high-speed, low-latency broadband internet system enabled by a “constellation of low Earth satellites” and suited for populations with little or no connectivity, such as rural areas, according to its website.

It is unclear where the Austin facility will be located but it will manufacture consumer products such as Starlink dishes, Wi-Fi routers and mounting hardware, according to the postings, which are no longer listed.

Neuralink

Musk’s brain implant startup is also hiring in Austin. Its website lists seven positions, including a neurosurgical robot operator and veterinarian. The company has tested its product on monkeys and pigs, prompting pushback from PETA, and Musk tweeted in February that initial human trials could begin as soon as later this year.

Musk Foundation


The Musk Foundation website is extremely bare. (Musk Foundation)

Musk’s philanthropic venture relocated to Austin last summer, ahead of its founder’s closely watched move from California to Texas. Founded in 2001, the foundation supports renewable energy, human space exploration, pediatric research, science and engineering education, and the development of artificial intelligence.

The Musk Foundation recently donated $1 million toward the revitalization of downtown Brownsville and new housing opportunities in the area, where SpaceX has a launch facility and is actively hiring.

“There’s going to be a need for professionals to be able to have a home near downtown,” Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation Executive Director Josh Mejia told Valley Central last month. “We understand that there have been folks who’ve lived here for many generations, so we’d also like to support that as well.”

Musk announced in March that he would donate $20 million to school districts in Cameron County, where he is attempting to incorporate the new city of Starbase, and $10 million to the city of Brownsville. The donations have prompted some to wonder: Could Austin be next?

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