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Elon Musk‘s net worth made him famous, not the other way around. Born into wealth, Musk’s engineering and computing skills propelled him to wild success in the earliest days of the Internet, and as such, he is one of the most “very online” celebrities there is. Aside from his tech, space and AI ventures, his latest is one of the most trademark Elon Musk moves ever: In April 2022, he became the largest shareholder of the social media giant Twitter—the very platform where he got into a lot of trouble for once calling a rescue diver “pedo guy”—and became a member of Twitter’s board of directors.
He tweeted that he was “looking forward to… make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!”
Looking forward to working with Parag & Twitter board to make significant improvements to Twitter in coming months!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 5, 2022
Those improvements may be subjective, as Musk has been open about his desire to decentralize the platform and perhaps loosen its code of conduct for users in the name of “free speech.”
Twitter is just the latest company into which Musk has dumped cash and dipped his fingers. Find out Elon Musk’s net worth and how he made it.
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Musk’s first big business venture was Zip2 in 1995, which created online city guides for newspapers. In 1999, Compaq purchased Zip2 for $307 million, netting Musk a cool $22 million for his shares. Later that year, Musk launched X.com, an online payment company and one of the very first FDIC-insured online banks ever. It eventually merged with the online bank Confinity, which used PayPal to transfer money. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal, netting Musk, the majority shareholder, between $160 million and $180 million for his shares. (He would later buy back the X.com domain for its sentimental value.)
Thanks to his prior fortunes, Musk was able to continue building both wealth as well as influence in the tech and engineering spaces. He founded SpaceX in 2002 and became a majority shareholder in Tesla in 2004. In 2016, Musk founded The Boring Company (pun very much intended) to build underground traffic tunnels; the same year he founded neurotechnology company Neuralink, which seeks to integrate artificial intelligence with the human brain.
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Musk became a household name thanks to his wealth and Tony Stark-lite swag, but his celebrity connections helped keep him in the pop culture zeitgeist: The billionaire has dated several famous women, including actress Amber Heard and singer Grimes, with whom he shares two children; his notoriety even led to his hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live.
He’s also quite famous for his trolling, which has gotten him into some legal trouble (aside from his alleged insider trading and allegedly discriminatory workplace) and heeded him quite a bit of criticism.
Musk doesn’t take much criticism to heart, however, gloating to The New York Times in 2018 of his roles of chairman and chief executive at Tesla, “If you have anyone who can do a better job, please let me know. They can have the job. Is there someone who can do the job better? They can have the reins right now.”
As of this writing, Musk’s net worth is $276 billion, according to Bloomberg. A report from ProPublica revealed that despite his wealth, Musk pays essentially nothing in income taxes.
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At the time of his investment into Twitter, at least, Musk is the richest man on the planet. He’s about $80 million wealthier than the No. 2 richest person in the world, Amazon founder and would-be Leonardo DiCaprio beatdown-issuer Jeff Bezos. Though their respective net worths often fluctuate depending on the markets and other factors, Musk will likely keep the top spot barring any major pitfalls because the disparity is already so large. You can learn more about the other 19 richest people in the world here.
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Musk’s entire net worth depends largely on how the stock market is performing on any given day. In October 2021, he made a whopping $37 billion in a single day when the price of Tesla stock soared by 13 percent, Business Insider reported. The stock surge came after rental car company Hertz announced the company’s plans purchase 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla.
Over the year 2020, Musk’s net worth increased by $150 billion. While that’s far from average, let’s assume it’s normal for him. By that math, he would earn an average of $41,095,890.41 every single day. Must be nice!
At this time, Musk isn’t yet a trillionaire. He’d have to earn or otherwise garner another whopping $724 billion to achieve that capitalist benchmark. That said, some experts believe that for Musk to actually achieve trillionaire status in his lifetime, he’d be most likely to do so through his work not just with Tesla, but also with SpaceX, and that the work would have to expand beyond just the SpaceX program’s Starlink satellite Internet service.
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According to Barron’s, Musk owns about 50 percent of SpaceX. Forbes places his ownership more specifically in the 48 percent range. Despite his owning less than half of the company, Musk retains absolute control over SpaceX and its business operations. This is because Musk controls a whopping 78 percent of voting shares in the company, giving him more significantly more leverage than any of SpaceX’s other shareholders.
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Musk sold a slew of his stocks and shares in 2021, but he is still a majority stakeholder in Tesla. According to CNBC, Musk sold 15.7 million shares for a cool $16.4 billion in 2021, as well as gifting 4.3 million shares to charity—but his compensation package from Tesla meant he still also managed to gain 22.8 million Tesla shares through options, netting 2 million more shares in 2021 than he started with that year. As of this writing, Musk owns 172.6 million shares, totaling a 17 percent stake in Tesla. He remains the biggest shareholder in the company, but not without issues: In February 2022, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into whether Musk engaged in insider trading.
In 2002, eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion. As the majority shareholder in the company with 11.72 percent of shares, Musk made between $175 million and $180 million from the deal.
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During a February 2021 appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience, Musk revealed that he sleeps about six hours per night. When host Rogan marveled at how much Musk gets done in a single day, Musk replied of his snooze habits, “I tried sleeping less, but then total productivity decreases.”
In August 2018, Musk told The New York Times that he often battled exhaustion with 120-hour workweeks. He reportedly scaled back to a “sustainable” 80-to-90-hour workweek by that November.
Musk was born into significant wealth, as his father, Errol, was an owner of an emerald mine in South Africa. Errol reportedly once said, “We were very wealthy. We had so much money at times we couldn’t even close our safe. And then there’d still be all these notes sticking out and we’d sort of pull them out and put them in our pockets.” That fiscal leg up likely lent itself to his son Elon being able to pursue his interest and skill in computers at a young age.
While Elon doesn’t speak often of his childhood, in his Time Person of the Year profile, it’s duly yet understatedly noted, “Musk’s family was well-off.”
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Musk reportedly only owns three types of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ether and, yes, Dogecoin. He tweeted in October 2021, “Lots of people I talked to on the production lines at Tesla or building rockets at SpaceX own Doge. They aren’t financial experts or Silicon Valley technologists. That’s why I decided to support Doge – it felt like the people’s crypto.”
Lots of people I talked to on the production lines at Tesla or building rockets at SpaceX own Doge. They aren’t financial experts or Silicon Valley technologists. That’s why I decided to support Doge – it felt like the people’s crypto.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 24, 2021
That said, while he supports these cryptocurrencies, he makes sure not to have all of his eggs in that basket.
“Out of curiosity, I acquired some ascii hash strings called ‘Bitcoin, Ethereum & Doge.’ That’s it,” he tweeted in late October 2021. “As I’ve said before, don’t bet the farm on crypto! True value is building products & providing services to your fellow human beings, not money in any form.”
Out of curiosity, I acquired some ascii hash strings called “Bitcoin, Ethereum & Doge”. That’s it.
As I’ve said before, don’t bet the farm on crypto! True value is building products & providing services to your fellow human beings, not money in any form.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 24, 2021
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Musk invested $6.35 million in Tesla’s Series A funding round in 2004 to become the majority shareholder in the company. He currently owns about 17 percent of Tesla, according to Bloomberg. Financially, the investment has obviously paid off handsomely, but some of it came at the expense of Musk’s own mental and emotional health. He lamented to The New York Times, “There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days—days when I didn’t go outside. This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.”
Musk signed the Giving Pledge, spearheaded by Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffett, promising to give away the majority of his wealth during his lifetime. In 2021, he reportedly donated $6 billion worth of Tesla stock to undisclosed charities, The New York Times reported. In October 2021, Musk tweeted that he’d donate $6 billion to the United Nations World Food Program if they could prove it would solve world hunger—and the organization responded with an outlined plan; as a result, some believe they may have been the beneficiary of his donation.
In 2015, he donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, which specializes in artificial intelligence regulation.
Next, find out Oprah Winfrey’s massive net worth and exactly how she earned it.