Elon Musk’s Net Worth and Journey to Wealth
Wondering what Elon Musk’s net worth is? How he built his wealth? And how he became one of the richest men in the world? Here’s the scoop on some of the most pressing questions.
What is Elon Musk’s Net Worth?
According to Forbes, the Tesla co-founder and CEO is worth over a staggering estimated $150.0 billion dollars. Elon now ranks behind Jeff Bezos ($175.8 billion dollars) and second-place Bernard Arnault ($152.1 billion) as reported on March 5, 2021. His net worth just keeps climbing.
That number can be hard to fathom. To put it in context, under Elizabeth Warren's tax plan which includes an "ultra-millionaire" tax, he would have paid $4.6 billion in 2020.
But Elon's net worth took a $9 billion tumble in one day as a result of JPMorgan's warning to investors that Tesla stock was grossly overpriced, according to Forbes. That tumble took his reported net worth down to $135.8 billion (as of 12/9/2020), nudging Elon into the #3 spot on Forbes' ranking of the wealthiest people in the world.
How did Elon Musk build his wealth?
Elon Musk started building his wealth back in the 90s when he dropped out of Stanford after just two days of attendance to pursue an entrepreneurial route and launch his first startup, Zip2.
Here is a timeline of Elon’s companies:
In 1995, Elon and his brother Kimbal Musk and business mentor Greg Kouri, co-founded Zip2, a Palo Alto, CA-based company. It provided and licensed online city guide software for newspapers. Funding from angel investors and $6,000 dollars from Kouri made the startup possible .
In 1999, Compaq Computer Corporation acquired Zip2 for a rumored $300 million dollars. Compaq purchased Zip2 in an attempt to make the Altavista internet search engine more competitive against Yahoo, Lycros, and Excite. Musk pocketed $22 million from the acquisition.
X.com, Confinity, and PayPal
In November of 1999 Elon founded X.com, one of the first FDIC-insured online banks in the world. In March of 2000, X.com and one of its biggest competitors, Confinity merged. Confinity later became the popular money-transferring online payment system known as PayPal. In October of 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion dollars. Elon netted $180 million. The snowball effect of X.com, Confinity, and PayPal set the foundation for Musk’s future and most famous endeavors.
SpaceX to Shoot Elon Musk's Net Worth into the Stars?
In May of 2012, Elon founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp. This privately held company focuses on aerospace manufacturing. The goal of SpaceX is to reduce the expensive costs of space travel. Also, they aim to further the mission of enabling humans to eventually live and colonize on planet Mars. SpaceX calls Hawthorne, CA home. You may know SpaceX for its products such as the Falcon launch series, Dragon capsules, Merlin, Raptor, and Kestrel rocket engines, and ASDS landing platforms. SpaceX grew from 160 employees in 2002 to over 7,000 as of November of 2017.
In July of 2003, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors. Elon Musk joined them as co-founder in early rounds of funding. Tesla’s mission is to deliver all-electric vehicles that were affordable, fast, and scalable. Tesla is aggressively set on creating a zero-emissions future. In August of 2016, Tesla acquired SolarCity Corp., for 2.6 billion. Tesla employs over 30,000 full-time employees.
The Boring Company
In December of 2016, Elon founded The Boring Company to ‘solve the problems of soul-destroying traffic.’ The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company that specializes in building low-cost tunnels. According to the company's FAQ page, the tunnels could reduce transit speeds drastically, enabling travel from New York City to Washington, D.C. in less than 30 minutes. The first tunnels are being built in Los Angeles.
What is Elon Musk’s salary?
According to Business Insider, Elon refuses his $56,000 annual minimum salary from Tesla every year.
Tesla recently announced that it would pay Elon Musk nothing for the next 10 years, no stock, salary, or bonuses until the company reaches a 100 billion market cap.
How does Elon Musk spend his money?
Obviously, not a fan of entertaining expensive vacations, Elon prefers to spend his money on lavish real estate and rare sports cars. He also puts his money into investments and back into his companies, SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company.
Home Sweet Homes, No More?
Quoted on May 1, 2020, Musk said, “I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.”
According to Architectural Digest, Elon has listed seven homes total, with a combined asking price of more than $100 million. His collection of home includes four in Los Angeles, one in Hillsborough, and two in Bel Air.
Why would he sell his whole residential home portfolio? Joe Rogan asked Elon on a recent podcast and this is what he said.
“What’s more important, Mars or a house? Allocating time to build a house, even if it was a really great house, still is not a good use of time relative to developing the rockets necessary to get us to Mars and help us solve sustainable energy.”
Elon listed several of his homes on Zillow as for sale by owner.
As far as cars go, he owns two vintage gasoline cars—a Ford Model T that a friend gifted him and a Jaguar Series 1 1967 E-type Roadster. He once owned a McLaren F1 that he wrecked in 2000 on a joy ride. In 2013, he bid $920,000 at an auction for a Lotus Esprit submarine and won. It was the car famously used in a classic James Bond movie. These days he mostly drives his Tesla Model S.
About Elon Musk
At 47, Elon Musk is one of the richest men on the planet standing alongside tech titans such as Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.
Like many famous innovators such as Steve Jobs, Elon achieved his success by demanding only excellence from his colleagues and relentlessly pursuing his vision.
Wearing Many Hats
Elon Musk is a tech entrepreneur, investor, and engineer. He is the CEO of both Tesla, a company that builds all-electrics vehicles, scalable clean energy generation and storage products, and SpaceX, a company that designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.
Elon Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa, and holds citizenship in South Africa, Canada, and the United States. He is a father to five children (all boys, one set of twins and one set of triplets) and currently lives in Los Angeles, CA. He’s married three times, once to Justine Musk, the mother of his children, and twice to Talulah Riley who he has since divorced.
A Tenacious Visionary
He's earned a reputation as a tenacious visionary and aggressively pursuing the creation of innovative products that set new standards and surpass consumer expectations. He’ll reach his vision at any cost and has outrageously high expectations.
According to various anonymous employee reports from inside Tesla’s Gigafactories, Elon has a history of going on theatrical outbursts that his employees have referred to as “rage firing sprees” where he walks the factory floor interrogating, belittling, and firing team members on the spot. The consensus from employees at lower and at executive levels is that the environment at Tesla is extraordinarily tense and demanding.
A former executive stated, “Everyone in Tesla is in an abusive relationship with Elon.” However, depending on who you ask, some employees have described him as irrational and others speak very highly of him—moved by his innovative vision and the challenges that help them grow.
All Work and No Play?
Another factor that attributes to Elon Musk’s net worth and success is his controversial work ethic. Musk is not a man that adheres to the traditional 40-hour workweek. He is a notorious workaholic—obsessively chipping away at problems until he finds a solution.
In a 12-year work span, he only took 15 days off in total. He does not find pleasure in taking exotic luxurious vacations or pursuing side hobbies. Instead, he pours all of his waking time and energy into building his companies.
In August of 2018, during high demand periods, Elon has admitted to working upwards of 120 hours a week and has also confessed to not leaving the Tesla Gigafactory for three or four days at a time during production sprints.
Does All that Work, Work?
In order to ensure maximum productivity, he avoids getting stuck responding to emails, maximizes his efficiency by working in 5-minute sprints, and avoids taking personal phone calls during work hours. He even eats his lunch in five minutes. Not a minute is wasted in Elon’s world.
The hard work has paid off, SpaceX and Tesla are valuated in the billions.
The New Frontier
SpaceX is projected to soon be worth $25 billion. The company is currently in the process of raising $507 in funding. According to PitchBook Data, this would make SpaceX the third most valuable venture-backed startup in the United States after Uber and Airbnb.
As of January 2020, according to the New York Times, Tesla is worth an estimated $100 billion. However, Tesla’s stock recently took some serious hits after Elon made some controversial media appearances. One involved Elon smoking weed on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. The video footage caused a stir and the memes came pouring in. Even though recreational marijuana is legal in the state of California, since Elon Musk is a government contractor and has national security clearances, he must abide by federal laws.
The second incident that caused Tesla shares to fall (by 5.6%) was a tense conference call that took place in May of 2018. Elon Musk met with Wall Street analysts to discuss Tesla’s quarterly earnings and instead of “grinning and bearing it” through the questions he opted to verbally spar with the analysts and impatiently sniped at them, stating that they were asking “boring bonehead questions.”
Despite the recent media controversies and Model 3 production issues, Tesla was able to earn a significant profit in Q3 of 2018. Elon called it a “historic quarter.”
If you’re looking to keep up with Elon Musk’s latest happenings, he’s an avid tweeter.