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What is Elon Musk net worth? how much money does he make?

Elon Musk is currently the world’s richest person having surpassed Jeff Bezos, but his wealth, like many billionaires, is based on his stock holdings.

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What is Elon Musk net worth? how much money does he make?
Aly Song REUTERS

Elon Musk rocketed to billionaire status, after entering the elite club in 2012 just nine years later he tops the list. His wealth is based mainly on his shareholdings in the electric car firm Tesla, of which he is the CEO.

Musk has dabbled in many projects during his career to date, from online payment systems, artificial intelligence and transportation above and below ground and into outer space. His musing can send the value of his and other companies, as well as cryptocurrencies, soaring or plummeting.

From South Africa to California

Elon Reeve Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa where he grew up and would briefly attend university. He was born into a family of considerable wealth and had a knack for technology and entrepreneurship at a young age. He wrote and sold the code for a video game when he just 12 years old. But his dreams lay on the other side of the world in America.

Since his mother was born in Canada, he was able to get a Canadian passport to establish himself there at 17. He did this in the knowledge that it would be easier to enter the United States from Canada, he became a US citizen in 2002.

After studying at Queens College in Ontario for two years he made his move to the United States and first graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in economics and later a degree in physics. In 1995, he headed for the west coast to study a PhD in energy physics at Stanford University, however he dropped out after two days.

It was the heyday of the internet boom and Musk saw more opportunity in the internet than physics. He started his first company that same year.

Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial rise to extreme wealth

Along with his brother Kimbal, Musk founded the web software company Zip2, which they sold four years later to Compaq for $307 million. Next, he co-founded online bank X.com, which became PayPal after merging with Confinity in 2000. eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in 2002, the same year Musk became a US citizen and that he founded his next creation.

SpaceX is born

Elon Musk has long felt that in order for the human species to survive, humanity would need to become a multi-planet species. This led to the founding of his third company SpaceX in 2002. Musk wanted to build spacecraft for commercial space travel that would be reusable and thus cheaper to operate. Within six years the company had secured a contract with NASA to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station (ISS).

The target had always been to carry humans into space and in 2020 the company launched its first manned flight. This allowed NASA to send astronauts to the ISS on flights launched from US territory and cease to rely on Russia for a ride. The Company is now working on its next project its Starship which it hopes to use to colonize Mars.

Tesla Motors

Not one to sit on his laurels, even though SpaceX was just in its infancy, in 2004 Musk invested in Tesla Motors becoming its the largest shareholder and chairman of the board of directors, picking up the title of co-founder along the way. The company’s creators set out to produce affordable electric cars to be mass marketed. The company also makes the lithium-ion batteries for their cars as well as for homes to store energy and solar powers to charge them.

Although many in the automotive industry doubted the endeavor, by 2008 Tesla rolled out its first model, the Roadster sports car. Four years later Tesla began manufacturing its Model S sedan. After some delays, production got fully underway on the Model 3, the most reasonably priced of the four models Tesla currently sells. As of June 2021 the company had sold over one million units of the Model 3.

In 2017, Tesla overtook General Motors to become the most valuable US carmaker. The company’s cars kick started an electric vehicle revolution making them appealing to the masses. The growth of that market and the price of Tesla’s stock is the driving force behind his outsized wealth.

So just how much is Elon Musk worth?

Elon Musk first made the Forbes Billionaires List in 2012 when his net worth was listed at $2 billion. At the start of 2020, Musk had a net worth of $27 billion, but since then it has skyrocketed. By July the same year he surpassed Warren Buffett reaching a net worth in the vicinity of $70.5 billion, according to Bloomberg.

A little over a year later Musk overtook Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world when he crossed the $200 billion marker. And just a matter of months later in November 2021 he became the first person to have a net worth over $300 billion. He briefly dropped below that threshold only to return again above $300 billion at the end of the month.

His wealth has increased as his stock options in former and current companies continue to grow but the bulk of his wealth comes from Tesla, accounting for around three quarters. Musk doesn’t take a salary from the company but instead receives stock options in lieu of cash.

The spectacular rise in his net worth has come on the back of Tesla’s stock rising like one of his space rockets, most recently thanks to Hertz announcing that they would buy 100,000 Tesla electric vehicles for their fleet.