Elon Musk is known for founding some of the world’s most innovative tech companies, including electric car maker Tesla and space exploration company SpaceX. Today, Musk is considered the richest person in the world, thanks in large part to his roughly 16% stake in Tesla, which is worth as of August 2022, according to Bloomberg $144 billion.
But Musk’s business practices have been unconventional and sometimes controversial. In 2022, he agreed to buy social media company Twitter for $44 billion, but later backed out of the deal due to what some experts said was a lack of credibility. The deal is currently in court, with a trial scheduled for October 2022.
Here’s everything else you should know about Musk, including how he got his start and his biggest investment today.
Key Facts About Elon Musk
• His net worth is estimated at $254 billion as of August 2022, making him the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. He is nearly $90 billion ahead of second-placed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
• Operates four companies: Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.
• Born in Pretoria, South Africa, bought his first computer at age 10.
• Graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with degrees in Physics and Economics.
• In 2012, Musk joined Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, which urges billionaires to give away most of their wealth to charity.
• Co-founder of online payment system PayPal, which was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
• Assisted in the creation of The Boring Company, a tunneling company aimed at reducing urban congestion and enabling long-distance high-speed travel.
• CEO of Neuralink, which develops interfaces that allow the human brain to connect to computers.
• Agreed to settle securities fraud charges brought against him by the SEC in 2018 after tweeting that he could take Tesla private at $420 a share and that financing was secured, according to The SEC said there was “actually lack of reasonable basis.”
• Announcing a 9% stake in Twitter in April 2022, then agreeing to buy the entire company for $44 billion later that month. He later tried to quit the industry.
Elon Musk’s top investments
Elon Musk holds stakes in some of the leading tech companies, some of which have become the largest companies in the United States.
|# of Employees
|The Boring Company
|$500 million – $1 billion
*Note: Tesla and PayPal values are as of Aug. 8, 2022. SpaceX value is as of June 2022, The Boring Company is as of April 2022 and Neuralink is as of August 2021.
Sources: Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, The Boring Company and Crunchbase
After selling Zip2, a software company designed to help newspapers create online city guides, to Compaq Computer in 1999, Musk used the proceeds to create X.com. He later merged the company with money transfer company Confinity, and they teamed up to create PayPal.
When PayPal was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002, Musk’s 11.7 percent stake ended up earning him roughly $180 million after taxes. The sale of PayPal brought considerable wealth to founders and early employees who later founded and invested in new technology companies. The group of PayPal founders, including investor and political activist Peter Thiel and Affirm CEO Max Levchin, is known as “PayPal Mafia.”
Musk is also the CEO and chief designer of SpaceX, which develops rockets and spacecraft for Earth-orbiting missions and, ultimately, the company says, other planetary missions. In 2002, Musk started SpaceX with most of the money he received from PayPal. The company has contracts with NASA and the U.S. Air Force to design the rocket.
SpaceX is privately held, but Musk owns 47% of the company in trust, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg in 2020.
Founded in 2003, Tesla has grown into a leading electric vehicle manufacturer. Musk joined Tesla as an investor in 2004 and became chairman of the board, eventually becoming CEO in 2008. Tesla launched its first car in 2008, and the Model S in 2012 was named the best car by Consumer Reports. Tesla became the world’s most valuable auto company in the summer of 2020, surpassing $1 trillion in market value in the fall of 2021 before falling in 2022.
Musk owns about 16% of Tesla and has significant influence over the company, leading product design, engineering and global manufacturing of the company’s electric vehicles, batteries and solar products.
In 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay $20 million to settle securities fraud charges by the SEC after Musk tweeted that he could take the company private for $420 a share, with funding secured , although there is no reasonable basis for action. Musk was also forced to resign as Tesla chairman for three years as part of the settlement.
According to the company’s website, Neuralink is developing ultra-high-bandwidth brain-computer interfaces to connect the human brain with computers. The company announced that it had raised $205 million in 2021 from a number of venture capital firms and investors, including Google.
Musk’s goal with Neuralink is to help people with brain injuries in the short term and reduce the risks AI poses to humans in the long run, the company said. The company is one of Musk’s smallest holdings, with fewer than 200 employees.
SolarCity was founded in 2006 by two of Musk’s cousins, with financial backing from Musk, who served on the company’s board. The company sells and installs solar energy systems and other related products to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Tesla agreed to buy SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016. Some critics called the acquisition a bailout for SolarCity, which was struggling to raise funds. Musk said he was not involved in evaluating the acquisition and later won a shareholder lawsuit related to the deal.
Elon Musk net worth
Elon Musk has increased his net worth by creating and investing in companies. He was able to turn the proceeds from the sale of PayPal earlier in his career into a much larger sum by putting money into projects that turned out very well.
His current estimated net worth is $254 billion, which has grown significantly since the start of 2020, when it was around $27.6 billion, according to Bloomberg. Since then, Tesla’s stock price has risen tenfold, and Musk’s fortune has followed suit, propelling him to the position of the world’s richest man. As of the beginning of 2020, he had a net worth of $27.6 billion, making him 46th on the current list of billionaires.
The Boring Company
The Boring Company seeks to combine fast, affordable tunnel technology with an electric mass transit system to ease urban congestion and enable high-speed, long-distance travel. The company built a 1.15-mile tunnel in Hawthorne, California, for research and development, and is currently building the Vegas Loop, a public transit system at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The company was valued at $5.7 billion in its most recent funding round in April 2022, when it raised $675 million. The round was led by two leading venture capital firms, Vy Capital and Sequoia Capital.
The artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies was founded in 2010, with Musk as a lead investor. The company has developed artificial intelligence systems that are better than humans at playing games. Musk has long warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence and the risks it poses to civilization.
Google acquired DeepMind in 2014 for $600 million.
Elon Musk and Twitter
In April 2022, Musk announced a 9% stake in social media company Twitter after years of being an active user with a large following. Ultimately, he agreed to buy the entire company before it later collapsed. Here is a timeline of how the event will play out:
- April 4, 2022: Musk announces a 9% stake in Twitter, sending Twitter stock soaring.
- April 25, 2022: Twitter accepts Musk’s offer to buy the company for $44 billion, a deal that values the company at $54.20 per share.
- July 8, 2022: Musk seeks to terminate the merger agreement with Twitter, saying he has not received enough information to understand how many fake accounts exist on the platform.
- July 12, 2022: Twitter files a lawsuit against Musk, demanding that he comply with the merger agreement. The company said it was “working hard” to provide the information it requested.
- July 19, 2022: A Delaware judge grants Twitter’s request to expedite the proceedings, which will begin a five-day trial in October.
- Aug. 4, 2022: In a countersuit, Musk accuses Twitter of fraud and says the company misrepresented key user metrics before agreeing to buy the company.
- August 6, 2022: Musk launches a public debate with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal on the percentage of Twitter users with fake or spam accounts.
Elon Musk and cryptocurrency
Musk has also been a frequent commentator and supporter of cryptocurrencies through his tweets. In February 2021, Tesla announced that it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin and planned to accept bitcoin as a method of payment for its products and services. A few months later, Musk appeared on Saturday Night Live where he called the cryptocurrency Dogecoin a “scam.” The coin fell 30% after Musk’s comments and has fallen even more since.
Due to environmental concerns, Tesla stopped accepting bitcoin as a payment method after just a few months. Musk said in July 2021 that Tesla is “likely” to accept bitcoin again once it becomes greener.
In July 2022, Tesla said it had converted about 75% of its bitcoin holdings into fiat currency, despite touting bitcoin’s long-term potential a year earlier.