Is Elon Musk Just a Sales Guy?

Does Elon Musk actually do engineering work, or is he more of a sales guy?

Erik Engheim
7 min readDec 21, 2021


A lot of people seem to think that Elon Musk is just some kind of economics and marketing guy. However Elon Musk has been involved in science and engineering most of his life.

The taught himself programming at a young age:

Around age 10, Musk developed an interest in computing and video games and acquired a Commodore VIC-20. He learned computer programmingusing a manual and, by age 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500.

He has the following education from University of Pensylvania:

  • Economics — Bachelor of Science.
  • Physics — Bachelor of Arts.

Elon Musk showed enough talent for Physics to get accepted for a Ph.D. program in energy Physics at the Stanford University of Calefornia, which he dropped out of to found Zip2.

However Elon Musk did actually do real scientific work as an intern at energy storage startup Pinnacle Research Institute.

Later before starting SpaceX Elon Musk taught himself rocket science, and has since been deeply involved in the engineering decisions taken. No that doesn’t mean an empty suit just signing off on papers. That means being deeply involved in discussing and figuring out complex engineering questions. How do we know this? We get it confirmed by numerous rocket engineers who have worked with Elon Musk such as Jim Cantrell.

Jim Cantrell on Elon Musk

Jim details in this Quora answer how Musk learned rocket science and how deep that knowledge ran.

He is by far the single smartest person that I have ever worked with … period. I can’t estimate his IQ but he is very very intelligent. And not the typical egg head kind of smart. He has a real applied mind. He literally sucks the…



Erik Engheim

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.