08 January 2021 18:44
With a fortune of $189bn (£137bn) Musk is likely to hold on to the title for a while. There can, however, be no question that Tesla has turned one of the world's largest industries upside down, creating a huge new brand, and, if it can complete its drive into the mass market, Musk may well be the most successful auto tycoon since Henry Ford (worth $100m in 1918, incidentally, not as much as the oil baron John D Rockefeller). Musk made his first fortune from the online guide company Zip2, and his second from PayPal, which was ultimately sold to eBay. He could easily have retired on the money he made from that. No one had much faith in electric cars at the time, and certainly not at the top end of the market, but Musk persevered. Elon Musk hasn't had a bad start to the new year.
Just days after his electric car company Tesla announced it delivered half a million cars in 2020, the tech billionaire has overtaken Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world. The SpaceX founder, 49, now has a net worth of more than $188.5 billion (£136bn) - up $150 billion in just 12 months and believed to be the quickest accumulation of wealth in history. Just seven months ago, Musk's reported wealth was just a quarter of Bezos' - no mean feat during a year in which Amazon's shares have rocketed thanks to the decline of high street stores. (Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk gestures while introducing the newly unveiled all-electric battery-powered Tesla Cybertruck / AFP via Getty Images) The South African business magnate's stratospheric rise in fortune is largely thanks to last year's more than eight-fold surge in shares of Tesla, which overtook Toyota in July to become the world's most valuable carmaker. Musk, who owns 20 per cent of Tesla's shares, was the 35th richest person in world at the start of 2020.
He launched his career as one of the co-founders of PayPal in 2000 and also owns the rocket-ship company SpaceX, which is transporting astronauts to the International Space Station in a deal with Nasa. Musk has previously said he intends to use half his wealth to "help problems on Earth" and "half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens & we destroy ourselves". (President Donald Trump and Elon Musk / AFP via Getty Images) From being bullied as a schoolboy to the unusual name he calls his new son, here are 30 surprising facts about the real-life Tony Stark. 1. Musk was born in Pretoria on June 28 1971 to Errol, a wealthy South African engineer, pilot and sailor, and Maye, a Canadian dietician and model, on the day the US Supreme Court overturned Muhammad Ali's conviction for evading the draft. 2. He is worth a reported $188.5 billion (£136bn), $1.5 billion more than Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. (Elon Musk with his newborn son / @elonmusk) 6. When Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket broke out of earth's atmosphere last year, Nasa astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the 567th and 568th people to go into space (according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale definition of spaceflight as any flight higher than 100km, or 62 miles: the US recognises some lower flights). (The launch of Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket / NASA TV/AFP via Getty Images) 7. In May last year nearly $15 billion was wiped off Tesla's valuation after Musk tweeted that its stock price was "too high". 9. All three siblings share the middle name Reeve, although a Change.org petition was launched in 2016 suggesting that Elon should change his middle name to "Gated". (Elon Musk with his mother Maye / Getty Images) Musk taught himself to write computer code at the age of 12, creating a video game called Blastar which he sold for $500 to PC and Office Technology magazine. (Elon Musk leaves the US District Court through a back door / Getty Images) Musk's son Xavier is named after Professor Xavier in X-Men. Tesla is named after Serbian-American inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla. Had Tesla failed to secure the rights to the name, Musk claims the company would have been called Faraday, after British scientist Michael Faraday, who was born in what is now Elephant and Castle in 1791. He sold his first software company Zip2, which he co-founded with Kimbal, for more than $300 million in 1999 and the same year co-founded online bank X.com, which went on to become PayPal. In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion. He founded SpaceX in 2002 and joined Tesla in 2004 as chairman, having helped fund the company. He has since founded AI and neuroscience companies and a tunnelling business called The Boring Company to dig tubes aimed at improving the movement of cars and creating a new high-speed public transport system called the Hyperloop. In 2013 Musk bought "Wet Nellie", the customised Lotus Esprit from the 1976 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, which he said was an inspiration for Tesla cars. The launch of the Tesla Cybertruck took place on November 2019, the month and year in which Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is set. (Tallulah Riley, Elon Musk's second wife) In 2018 Musk used his own Tesla sportscar as the payload for the successful launch of his Falcon Heavy rocket, with a dummy called Starman in the driving seat, with Bowie's Space Oddity and Life on Mars on the hi-fi. Musk met his second wife, actress Tallulah Riley, in Mayfair's Whisky Mist nightclub in 2008, and proposed to her the same year.