In March 2000, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel, who eventually co-founded PayPal, survived a car crash that could have nearly killed them both, author Jimmy Soni writes in “The Founders: The Story of PayPal and the Entrepreneurs Who Shaped Silicon Valley”. 

Musk, who was 28 years old at the time, had sold his first venture for $22 million and invested a million of that on a McLaren F1. The rest went into, the internet-based megabank, which aimed to reshape the global financial system. However, Musk was in direct conflict with Confinity, Thiel’s company. The shotgun merger was for mutual benefit and Musk had decided to pull rank and offer Thiel a ride. 

Also Read | Elon Musk reveals first SpaceX Starship orbital flight’s possible timeline

However, he didn’t know how to drive the car, Soni writes, and the Tesla and SpaceX CEO turned on the engine. The car’s speed was more than he could handle and it spun out on a busy Silicon Valley road before hitting an embankment, going airborne and smashing on the roadside. The glass was shattered, the tires burst and the suspension had snapped as well. 

Though both men could have died, they emerged unhurt and hitchhiked their way. 

However, the actual partnership between Musk and Thiel was filled with other hurdles, as the book details. Not only did Musk want PayPal to come under the banner of his company, but even wanted to restructure the original code by Max Levchin. 

Also Read | Elon Musk turns Elona after Twitter kerfuffle with Chechen head

A furious Levchin staged a coup during Musk’s honeymoon in Australia. He along with Thiel ousted Musk from the board. However, the entrepreneur retained his original stake in the company, thus profiting handsomely when PayPal went public in 2002. The money from this IPO helped Musk launch SpaceX. 

Thiel and Musk are now on good terms with the former telling Soni “I’d achieved liftoff with Elon but not in a rocket”.