The Richest Person in the World: What is Elon Musk’s Net Worth?

Elon Musk’s name has become synonymous with innovation, entrepreneurship, and controversy. A prominent figure in the business world, Musk is known for his ventures in pioneering technologies and bold vision for the future.

As of January 2024, Musk’s net worth has soared to make him one of the wealthiest individuals globally. How rich is Elon Musk?

This article explores the growth of Elon Musk’s net worth, from his early ventures to his current standing as one of the richest men on the planet.

Key Takeaways

  • Elon Musk’s net worth is estimated at $230.2 billion as of January 2024, which makes him the wealthiest person in the world.
  • Musk co-founded six companies, including a rocket producer SpaceX, electric car manufacturer Tesla, tunneling startup Boring Company, and neurotechnology company Neuralink.
  • In 2012, he signed the Giving Pledge, committing to donate at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes.

How Did Elon Musk Make His Money?

Musk made his fortune from several businesses that have become industry leaders, including PayPal and Tesla.

Early Ventures

Elon Musk’s entrepreneurial journey began with Zip2, one of the earliest online navigation services. He co-founded it in 1995 after he dropped out of a PhD program at Stanford University after two days.

Zip2 was one of the earliest online navigation services. It was initially founded as Global Link Information Network by Musk, his brother Kimbal Musk, and investor Greg Kouri, and licensed online city guide software to newspapers. Zip2 was acquired by Compaq Computer in 1999.

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Musk’s next venture was X.com, an online financial services and email payment company he co-founded in 1999 using some of the proceeds from the Compaq deal. In 2000, X.com merged with Confinity, which had launched the first version of the PayPal electronic payment platform in 1999.

These early experiences laid the foundation for Musk’s future financial success. His determination to create game-changing projects became evident during this phase.

Breakthrough with PayPal

Musk disagreed with X.com’s president and chief executive officer (CEO) Bill Harris about the potential of the money transfer business. Harris left the company in 2000. Musk decided in late 2000 that X.com would terminate its banking operations to focus on payments. Peter Thiel then replaced Musk as the CEO of X.com. The company was renamed PayPal in June 2001 and went public in February 2002 under the ticker symbol PYPL. The initial public offering raised over $61 million.

The breakthrough for Musk came with PayPal’s success. In October 2002, eBay acquired PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. As PayPal’s largest shareholder, Musk received $175.8 million, providing a substantial boost to his net worth.

Expansion into SpaceX and Tesla

Musk reinvested some of the funds into founding a rocket producer and spaceflight services company SpaceX in 2002, aiming to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. Space X was valued at nearly $150 billion in June 2023 following a $750 million tender offer.

In 2004, Musk became an early investor in Tesla Motors, leading it to focus on electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing. He was initially the company’s chairman and product architect, becoming CEO in 2008.

Since then, SpaceX and Tesla have become industry leaders, significantly contributing to Musk’s increasing net worth.

Solar Energy and AI projects

In 2006, Musk helped to launch SolarCity, a solar energy company that Tesla acquired in 2016 and rebranded as Tesla Energy. The company sells and installs solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and battery systems.

In 2015, Elon Musk co-founded OpenAI as a non-profit artificial intelligence (AI) research firm. He resigned from OpenAI’s board in 2018.

In 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company developing implantable brain-computer interfaces. He then founded the Boring Company, which specializes in tunnel construction and equipment, as a subsidiary of SpaceX in 2017. It was subsequently spun off as a separate company in 2018. The Boring Company raised $675 million in April 2022, valuing it at $5.7 billion, and an employee share increased its valuation to $7 billion in October 2023.

Turning Twitter into X Super App

In 2017, Musk purchased the X.com domain from PayPal. He has since discussed creating X as an “everything app” or super app.

In 2022, Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion after he controversially threatened a hostile takeover and then backed out. Twitter sued, and the entrepreneur was ordered by the court to proceed with the acquisition, taking an estimated 74% stake. He subsequently merged the company into the newly-created entity X Corp. and rebranded the service as X in 2023.

In March 2023, Musk founded another artificial intelligence company, xAI. In November xAI released Grok, a chatbot powered by a large language model (LLM) trained on data from X.

How Rich is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk’s net worth is estimated at $230.2 billion as of January 2024, according to Forbes.

The following table illustrates the evolution of his wealth over the past few years:

Year Wealth History ($ billion)
2014 8.4
2015 12
2016 10.7
2017 13.9
2018 19.9
2019 22.3
2020 24.6
2021 151
2022 219
2023 180

Wealth Fluctuations

Musk’s net worth has experienced fluctuations driven by various factors, including stock market conditions, the performance of companies in which he owns stakes, and global economic trends. The dynamic nature of Musk’s wealth reflects the inherent volatility of the industries he operates in.

Each new company Musk has founded has been partially financed by the proceeds from previous businesses, and each new venture has been more ambitious than the last.

Musk’s net worth soared in 2021 as the value of Tesla shares increased. His estimated wealth peaked at around $340 billion in that year as he overtook Jeff Bezos as the world’s wealthiest individual. Musk’s net worth has fallen since 2022, as his acquisition of Twitter, now known as X, has seen the company’s value plummet by around 72%.

Investment firm Fidelity, which helped finance Musk’s purchase of the company, marked down the value of its shares in a filing dated December 30 to just under $5.6 million, from $19.9 million when the acquisition was finalized.

Richest Man in the World

Elon Musk has frequently vied for the title of the world’s richest person. His ranking among billionaires is subject to market dynamics and the success of his companies.

In January 2023, Musk set a new Guinness World Record for losing personal wealth, with his net worth having plunged by around $180 billion since November 2021. He lost the position of the richest man in the world to French businessman Bernard Arnault, although he soon regained the top spot as Tesla’s value climbed further.

The real-time billionaires list

Source: Forbes

According to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List as of January 2024, Elon Musk has maintained the leading position, followed by Arnault and his family, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

What Does Elon Musk Own?

Elon Musk’s wealth is derived from his ownership stakes in the various companies he has co-founded – primarily Tesla and SpaceX.

  • SpaceX’s value has reportedly increased from $150 million in summer 2023 to $175 million in December 2023. That would value Musk’s 44% stake at around $77 million
  • Tesla has a market capitalization of $695.83 billion as of January 2024, valuing Musk’s 13% stake at around $90.5 billion
  • The Boring Company was most recently valued at $7 billion
  • Neuralink is valued at around $5 billion
  • X was valued at $16 million to $19 million in December 2023
  • xAI was valued at between $4 billion and $10 billion in December 2023 based on a $1 billion fundraising
  • Musk Foundation reported $2.55 billion in revenue and $650.7 million in net assets as of December 2022

The billionaire no longer owns stakes in Zip2, PayPal, SolarCity, or OpenAI.

Real Estate and Other Investments

Beyond his corporate holdings, Musk amassed a $100 million real estate portfolio in California before he declared in 2020 that he was “selling almost all physical possessions” and would “own no house”. He sold each property at a profit, further adding to his wealth.

In 2021, Musk claimed to live in a $50,000 house he rented from Space X in Texas, where he moved to be closer to the company’s headquarters.

Elon Musk’s Companies

A closer look at SpaceX, Tesla, and other companies founded or led by Musk reveals the innovative technologies and products that have contributed to his immense wealth.

1. SpaceX

SpaceX is Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturer and space transportation company. Founded in 2002, SpaceX has revolutionized the private space industry by developing reusable rocket technology.

With a focus on reducing the cost of space travel and making it accessible, SpaceX has become a key player in the commercial space sector, regularly launching satellites, cargo, and even astronauts to the International Space Station.

2. Tesla

Tesla is an EV and renewable energy company that has transformed the automotive industry, blurring the lines between an automaker and technology company. Founded in 2003, Tesla’s vehicle models, such as the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y, have dominated the global EV market in recent years, becoming popular among early adopters and technology enthusiasts.

Beyond automobiles, Tesla is involved in solar power and battery storage systems. Tesla’s innovative approach has propelled it to the forefront of the global automotive and energy markets.

3. The Boring Company

The Boring Company, founded by Musk in 2016, aims to revolutionize urban transportation and infrastructure by reducing traffic congestion. Musk envisions a network of underground tunnels that enable high-speed traffic over long distances using EVs on the platforms known as “Loop” and “Hyperloop.”

The Boring Company aims to provide faster and more sustainable alternatives to traditional surface transportation by creating efficient underground transportation systems.

4. Neuralink

Neuralink, co-founded by Musk in 2016, is at the forefront of neurotechnology and brain-machine interface development. Neuralink is developing implantable brain–machine interface devices to enable direct communication between the human brain and external devices.

The technology has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of neurological conditions and enhance human cognitive abilities.

5. X

Twitter, established in 2006 and controversially acquired by Musk in 2022, is an influential social media platform that fundamentally changed how people communicate and share information online. Users ranging from individuals to celebrities, politicians, and global organizations, resort to Twitter to share thoughts, news, and updates in real-time.

Rebranded by Musk as X in 2023, the microblogging platform is at the center of controversial debates surrounding freedom of speech.

6. xAI

Musk founded AI startup company xAI in March 2023, with a mission “to accelerate human scientific discovery” and “advance our collective understanding of the universe.” The company is separate from X Corp “but will work closely with X (Twitter), Tesla, and other companies to make progress towards our mission,” according to its website. In November 2023, xAI launched its chatbot, Grok, to rival OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

The xAI PromptIDE is an integrated development environment (IDE) for prompt engineering and interpretability research. It was developed to give AI engineers and researchers transparent access to the model that powers Grok.

Philanthropy and Spending

While Musk is known for accumulating vast wealth, he has also pledged to give back. In 2012, he signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by some billionaires to donate at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes in their lifetime or their wills.

The Musk Foundation, which has assets in the millions of dollars, makes grants in support of:

  • Renewable energy research and advocacy
  • Human space exploration research and advocacy
  • Pediatric research
  • Science and engineering education
  • Development of safe AI to benefit humanity

The foundation has made donations, including $55 million to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, $54 million to the X Prize Foundation, which Musk partnered with to create a prize for carbon removal projects, as well as donations to school districts in the area around the SpaceX spaceport in Boca Chica, Texas.

A tax filing for 2023 indicated that Musk donated $100 million to the foundation to establish a primary and secondary STEM school in Texas and later to seek accreditation to launch a university.

Musk claims to hold all his net worth in stocks and minimal cash. He can use his Tesla and SpaceX stock as collateral to take out loans at low interest rates. Musk can mix his personal and business finances, writing checks to cover expenses when his companies struggle to generate value.

While Musk claims to eschew most personal spending, he owns a private jet and a collection of luxury cars.

The Bottom Line

The accumulation of Elon Musk’s money reflects his entrepreneurial talent and ability to disrupt multiple industries. From his early ventures to the success of SpaceX and Tesla, his journey to becoming the world’s richest man proves the value of pushing the boundaries of technology.

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Nicole Willing

Nicole Willing has two decades of experience in writing and editing content on technology and finance. She has developed expertise in covering commodity, equity, and cryptocurrency markets, as well as the latest trends across the technology sector, from semiconductors to electric vehicles. Her background in reporting on developments in telecom networking equipment and services and industrial metals production gives her a unique perspective on the convergence of Internet-of-Things technologies and manufacturing.