Elon Musk, the charismatic chief of electric automaker Tesla, has overtaken Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person, with a net worth of more than $188 billion, $1.5 billion more than Bezos.
The South African-born Musk, 49, added over $3 billion in wealth on Thursday following Tesla’s latest surge. The outspoken Musk, who is also co-founder of SpaceX, had already overtaken numerous luminaries in recent weeks, including Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Bernard Arnault, the head of French luxury giant LVMH.
Musk tweeted after reports of his new status were published, “How strange,” then added, “Well, back to work.”
Musk’s wealth surge over the past year marks the fastest rise to the top of the rich list in history — and marks a dramatic financial turnaround for the famed entrepreneur who just 18 months ago was in the headlines for Tesla’s rapid cash burn and his personal leverage against Tesla’s stock.
Musk started 2020 worth about $27 billion and was barely in the top 50 richest people.
Tesla’s rocketing share price — which has increased more than nine-fold over the past year — along with his generous pay package has added more than $150 billion to his net worth.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s share price has remained more subdued due to the potential for increased regulation from Washington.
Elon Musk passed Warren Buffett in July to become the seventh richest person. In November, Musk raced past Bill Gates to become the second richest person. Musk has gained more wealth over the past 12 months than Bill Gates’ entire net worth of $132 billion.
Musk said in 2012 he would eventually give at least half his wealth away, he doesn’t appear to have done much yet. Instead, Musk has been focused on developing electric cars and spacecraft, which has sent his worth up by about $100 billion this year. That gives him all the more to donate in future should he stick to his word.
Despite his astronomical gains, Musk has said he has little interest in material things and has few assets outside his stakes in Tesla and SpaceX. He told Axel Springer in an interview last month that the main purpose of his wealth is to accelerate humanity’s evolution into a spacefaring civilization.
“I want to be able to contribute as much as possible to the city on Mars,” Musk said. “That means just a lot of capital.”
Tesla’s shares were recently trading at about $790, up more than 4% in trading Thursday. The company’s market value has grown to $737.6 billion.