On May 18, two significant news events happened on the very same day, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook offered up its initial stock offerings to the public to much media hype, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX planned for the initial launch of its Dragon Spacecraft to deliver the first cargo from a civilian space company to ever be deployed to the international space station, a feat only a few world governments have done successfully.
The Zuckerberg and Musk dreams of business success look like opposite sides of the coin to this observer. On the one hand you have the social media giant Facebook, which everybody seems to be using now to communicate with each other and to share photos, stories and what have you. And that’s great. On the other hand, is anybody still using MySpace? Social media is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to tell whether or not one particular website will remain profitable. After all, does anyone ever click on those FB ads? Most of my friends have anecdotally told me they have ad blockers on their machines, so they never see the ads. So how is Zuckerberg and Co supposed to make a profit if nobody looks at the ads?
Facebook might be a huge success, or it may go away like the dot.com debacle years ago. Now there are congressional investigations planned to determine whether or not there have been any funny business going on with that IPO. In fact, according to SeatlepI.com, two panels are being launched to investigate whether or not Morgan Stanley underwriters selectively informed shareholders of the companies negatives. Several shareholders are suing, alleging that IPO documents contained false information and omitted important facts about the company. Not a good way to start.
Admittedly, SpaceX got off to a rocky start too. They canceled their scheduled launch May 18, because one of the engines failed to ignite. Bummer. But that happens
sometimes. Let’s face it, it really is rocket science. The launch was successful on the 22nd of May however and the spacecraft is on its way to its rendezvous with the space station. There will be a few tests going on in the meantime to ensure that the Dragon can successfully couple with the ISS, but things are looking good so far.
Both of these brilliant young men are billionaires, which shows that anything is possible if you have a dream and can market it. But to date, Zuckerberg has one successful company, and Musk has several. He launched what we now know as Paypal, he is the CEO and technical architect of Tesla Motors where he designed the first viable electric car of the modern era, the Tesla Roadster, and other accomplishments. Musk’s achievements seem more tangible than a social media webpage. I mean, really, he is sending rockets into outer space, how cool is that?!
I wish all the luck and success in the world to these young entrepreneurs. But my money is on SpaceX. He dreams big and he acts on the dreams. By all accounts he had drawn many of the best and brightest to help him in his endeavors. His dreams are something we can all glom onto, and they are exciting, transforming the impossible, into the possible, and stretching the envelope. Going boldly where only big government has gone before.
At the end of the day, I think Elon’s dream is big enough for all of us, and Mark’s dream may just be a passing fad.