X.com: Elon Musk's Online Bank

 

X.com was an online bank co-founded by Elon Musk, Harris Fricker, Christopher Payne, and Ed Ho in 1999 in Palo Alto, California. It was one of Musk's early ventures after selling his web software company Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million. X.com aimed to provide a full-service online bank that offered checking and savings accounts, brokerages, and insurance. It also had a feature that allowed customers to send money to each other by entering their email address.


The Launch and the Merger

X.com officially launched on December 7, 1999, with former Intuit CEO Bill Harris serving as the inaugural CEO. However, Harris left the company after five months due to disagreements with Musk over the direction of the company. Musk then became the CEO of X.com and pursued his vision of creating a global payment system.


Meanwhile, X.com faced competition from another online financial services company based in Palo Alto: Confinity Inc. Confinity had developed a software called PayPal that enabled users to make payments using Palm Pilots and email. Musk was impressed by PayPal's ease of use and saw it as a potential partner for X.com. In March 2000, X.com and Confinity announced a merger that created a new company called PayPal.


The Conflict and the Sale

The merger of X.com and Confinity was not smooth, as there were clashes between the two cultures and visions. Musk wanted to focus on building a global payment system that could work with any currency and device, while Confinity's founders wanted to concentrate on the US market and the email-based payment system. There were also disputes over the branding and technology of the new company. Musk decided to rebrand PayPal as X.com and switch from Confinity's Unix-based platform to Microsoft's Windows-based platform.


However, Musk's decisions were met with resistance from Confinity's employees and investors, who staged a coup against him in October 2000. They voted to remove Musk as CEO and replace him with Peter Thiel, one of Confinity's co-founders. They also reverted the name back to PayPal and kept the Unix-based platform. Musk was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of PayPal, but remained as its largest shareholder.


In 2001, PayPal launched its initial public offering (IPO) and became a publicly traded company. In 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Musk received $165 million for his shares in PayPal. During this time, Musk also lost ownership of the X.com domain name, which he had acquired for $1 million in 1999.


The Reacquisition

In July 2017, Musk announced that he had bought back the X.com domain name from PayPal for an undisclosed amount. He tweeted that he had no plans for using the domain name, but that it had great sentimental value to him. He also thanked PayPal for allowing him to buy it back.


As of now, the X.com website only displays a single letter: "x". It is unclear what Musk intends to do with the domain name in the future, but some speculate that he might use it for one of his existing or new ventures.

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