Elon Musk slept on his office couch and ‘showered at the YMCA’ while starting his first company

Elon Musk
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Sleeping at the office is nothing new for Elon Musk.

The self-made billionaire CEO of Tesla and founder of SpaceX famously burns the midnight oil at his Tesla factory. Musk told "CBS This Morning" host Gayle King in April that he sometimes sleeps on a couch in a conference room at the Fremont, California factory as he tries to avoid any further delays and missed production targets for the Model 3 electric cars.

But Musk is no stranger to the office couch. In the '90s, before he struck it rich as an entrepreneur, Musk had to sleep at the office because he couldn't afford an apartment.

"When my brother and I were starting our first company, instead of getting an apartment, we just rented a small office and we slept on the couch," Musk said in a 2014 commencement speech at the University of Southern California.

That first company went on to become Zip2, a web software startup that created online city guides for newspapers. Musk and his younger brother, Kimbal Musk, founded the company in Palo Alto, California in 1995 and eventually sold it to Compaq for roughly $300 million in 1999. Musk used the money from that sale to found X.com, the online financial services service that merged with Confinity in 2000 and later became PayPal.

But before Musk and his brother could cash in on their first big venture, the bootstrapping brothers had to rough it by living in their small office.

"We showered at the YMCA and we were so hard-up that we only had one computer," Musk said in 2014. "The website was up during the day and I was coding it at night, seven days a week, all the time."

"I briefly had a girlfriend in that period and in order to be with me she'd have to sleep in the office," Musk added.

Ex-Google exec: 3 traits that make Elon Musk an exceptional leader — and one major flaw
Ex-Google exec: 3 traits that make Elon Musk an exceptional leader — and one major flaw

The lesson to be learned, Musk told the graduates of USC's Marshall School of Business, was "you need to work super-hard."

"Work hard every waking hour," Musk said in 2014. "If you do the simple math, and say if somebody else is working 50 hours [a week] and you're working 100, you'll get twice [as much] done in the course of a year as the other company."

More than 20 years later, Musk is apparently still sleeping at the office. In addition to telling CBS' King that he sleeps on a couch at the Tesla factory, Musk even said he sometimes sleeps directly on the factory floor because "the couch was too narrow."

As a result, a YouTube video blogger actually started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy Musk a new couch in May.


And, while some people dismissed this move as a public relations stunt (especially considering that Musk's multi-billion-dollar Tesla pay package means he can certainly afford his own couch), the campaign ended up raising more than $18,000 that all went to charity after online furniture company Wayfair donated a new couch for Musk's office — whether he sleeps on it or not.

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The one trait that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have in common
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