Which billionaire are you most excited about investing in Buffalo? -- Donald Trump? Howard Milstein? Tom Golisano?
Elon Musk, Chairman
Elon Musk is also founder and CEO of SpaceX—a space launch vehicle company. Prior to SpaceX, he co-founded PayPal, the world's leading electronic payment system, and served as the company's chairman and CEO. PayPal went public in early 2002 and was sold to eBay later that year for $1.5 billion. Elon's first company was an Internet software company called Zip2. He co-founded Zip2 in 1995, serving initially as CEO and then as CTO. Zip2 was sold to Compaq in 1999 for over $300 million in an all cash transaction. He is CEO and chairman of Tesla Motors, a new all-electric American car company. In addition, he is a trustee of the X Prize Foundation and the Musk Foundation, both of which have a strong interest in promoting renewable and environmentally friendly energy technologies.
The answer ought to be ... Elon Musk.
He's not trying to buy the Buffalo Bills -- he's trying to build the future.
Musk is the largest shareholder of SolarCity, the solar panel firm which wants to build the world's largest advanced solar panel factory, here.
Western New York has been burned before -- by the Ghermazians, Bashar Issa, the Rigas family -- men with money and ideas that fizzled and disappeared. It has been referred to as the "Silver Bullet Theory" -- Western New York's disturbing fascination with big plans -- think of a domed stadium in Lancaster, a giant indoor amusement park, or a theme park dedicated to the Wizard of Oz.
But would you bet against a man who was a multi-millionaire at 28, made more money on the sale of PayPal, and co-founded Space X and Tesla Motors?
He's trying to solve two similar problems at the same time. His electric car company Tesla Motors needs to build a giant factory to make his batteries, and SolarCity needs more efficient solar panels. So he needs to build a giant factory to make those. And he wants to do that, here.
Which could turn Western New York into the center of an industry with the ability to change the world -- the solar power industry.
He just announced that electric car maker Tesla was giving away its patents to encourage the market, and days later, that SolarCity was buying solar panel maker Silevo. The market's response was to add another one billion dollars to his net worth -- this week.