His innovative brilliance spans the worlds of physical and digital goods. Prior to SpaceX he essentially co-founded PayPal, the enormously successful Internet payments firm that he sold to eBay in 2002.
And now he has visions of another major breakthrough. As SmartPlanet's David Worthington reported, Musk earlier this week proposed his "Hyperloop" train that would suck passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes using vacuum technology. It seems a bit far fetched, but dreamers like Musk have a way of getting things done.
One of my SmartPlanet colleagues has suggested that Amazon's Jeff Bezos take the innovator's crown. I like Jeff as an honorable mention. Among the lesser known reasons that he deserves consideration: Bezos' personal investments have wandered into diverse innovative areas, such as nuclear power. Bezos backs a Vancouver area fusion company called General Fusion, one of several fusion startups competing for energy's elusive Holy Grail.
My vote goes to Musk.
Okay, so unlike Jobs, Musk never designed a gadget that delivers music to your earbuds that leak tininess and annoy people sitting near you on trains. We can forgive him that. Maybe he can offer copycat devices called MuskPlayers as part of a service package on his Vacuum Express.
But for his persistent and varied set of business, technology and science innovations, Elon Musk is the new Steve Jobs. He possibly even out-Steves Steve.