CEO of Tesla, SpaceX & Twitter
Rank on 2022 Forbes 400 List
Net Worth as of Nov. 1, 2022
AGE: 51 | SOURCE OF WEALTH: TESLA, SPACEX | SELF-MADE SCORE: 8/10 | RESIDENCE: AUSTIN, TEXAS | CITIZENSHIP: UNITED STATES | MARITAL STATUS: SINGLE | CHILDREN: 10 | EDUCATION: BACHELOR OF ARTS/SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
Elon Musk is working to revolutionize transportation both on Earth, with electric car maker Tesla, and in space, with rocket producer SpaceX. Musk, who was born in South Africa, emigrated to Canada and later moved to the U.S. to attend university, has been the world’s richest person since September 2021, as a result of the huge runup in the stock price of Tesla, where he started as an investor and then became the CEO. His net worth peaked at $320 billion in November 2021. Rocket maker SpaceX won a $1.4 billion contract with NASA in August for five additional missions to take astronauts to the International Space Station. Musk was distracted this year by his new obsession and now possession, Twitter: in April 2022 he bid $44 billion to buy the social media company–the deal closed in October 2022 after Musk tried to back out and Twitter sued. A week into owning Twitter, Musk laid off about 50% of the staff. He is now CEO of SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter.
As of November 1, 2022
🚙 Tesla: $147.7 B
🚀 SpaceX: $54.3 B
💵 Twitter: $21.6 B
🏗️ Boring Company: $3.9 B
💵 Other assets: $200 M
💸 Debt: -$5.6 B
“I’m sending a giant statue of the digit ‘2’ to Jeffrey B., along with a silver medal.”
Forbes estimates that Musk, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012, has donated $280 million over his lifetime to charitable causes from his foundation and other charitable vehicles. That is less than 1% of his net worth as of November 1, 2022. Not included: $5.7 billion worth of Tesla shares that Musk transferred to an undisclosed charity in November 2021. That’s because the gift likely went to a donor-advised fund–a philanthropic bank account that is not required to disclose when it distributes funds to nonprofit recipients. Forbes excludes amounts transferred to donor-advised funds from lifetime giving calculations unless the billionaire provides details of where the money from that fund has been donated.
HERE ARE SOME OF MUSK’S LARGEST DONATIONS TO DATE:
As a kid in South Africa, Musk taught himself to code. By age 12 he sold his first software—a space game called Blastar—for about $500.
He immigrated to Canada just before his 18th birthday and first worked a variety of odd jobs, including cleaning the boiler room of a lumber mill. He enrolled at Queen’s University in Ontario, then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he got bachelor’s degrees in economics and physics.
Musk passed on a Stanford graduate program to launch software company Zip2 with his brother Kimbal, selling it to Compaq in 1999, reportedly for more than $300 million.
Musk merged an online bank he cofounded, X.com, with a competitor cofounded by Peter Thiel to form PayPal, which was acquired by eBay in 2002 for $1.4 billion. Musk got married in January 2000 to Justine Wilson, a writer and student he’d met at Queen’s University; she signed a postnuptial agreement a few months after their wedding. Their first child, a son named Nevada, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome at 10 weeks old.
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 in El Segundo, California—not far from the Los Angeles airport.
He joined Tesla as an investor and chairman, a year after the company’s founding by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning; he was later granted the title of Tesla cofounder.
Musk filed for divorce from Justine, with whom he shares five sons–twins and triplets. He became CEO of Tesla in October 2008, amid the financial crisis, and immediately laid off dozens of employees. That same year SpaceX launched the first privately developed rocket into orbit (he’s since adopted the title of “Technoking” at Tesla).
Tesla went public on the Nasdaq in June, with the stock closing at a split-adjusted $1.59 on the first trading day; the company had just under $117 million in revenues that year.
Musk debuted on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires with a net worth of $2 billion in March 2012. SpaceX, then valued at $1.8 billion, sent the first private spacecraft to the International Space Station in May. That same year Musk divorced his second wife, actress Talulah Riley. The couple remarried 18 months later, in July 2013. It wasn’t meant to be. Musk filed for divorce a second time on Dec. 31, 2014. The couple did not have any children together.
Tesla acquired SolarCity, a struggling solar panel installer backed by Musk and founded by his cousins, in August, sparking investor lawsuits that dragged into April 2022, when a judge ruled in Musk’s favor.
In August, Musk tweeted about taking Tesla private, sending shares soaring and prompting an SEC settlement that now requires lawyers to pre-screen his tweets. Musk was widely criticized for smoking marijuana on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in September and for calling a British diver who helped rescue children from a flooded cave in Thailand “pedo guy.” Musk ultimately won a defamation lawsuit filed by the diver, who had drawn Musk’s ire after labeling a rescue submarine sent to Thailand by SpaceX and Boring Company a “PR stunt.”
In May Musk told television viewers he has Asperger’s syndrome while guest hosting Saturday Night Live. In September, SpaceX launched the first all-civilian crew into orbit, as Musk overtook Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person for the first time – the third person ever worth $200 billion or more. Tesla’s stock peaked in early November, after Hertz announced a large Tesla order, briefly making Musk the first person worth more than $300 billion. Days later, Musk began selling $16 billion of Tesla shares over two months after polling his Twitter followers, likely resulting in the largest-ever one-year tax bill for an individual (and reportedly prompting an SEC insider trading probe of him and Kimbal).
Also in November, Musk secretly fathered twins with an executive of his brain implant startup, Neuralink. Musk had split with his girlfriend, alt-pop star Grimes, with whom he has two children –son X Æ A-12 born in 2020 and daughter Exa Dark Sideræl born in 2021, the prior year. Musk, who reportedly told his first wife, “I am the alpha in this relationship,” as they danced at their wedding, now has a total of 10 children with three women.
In April, Musk launched a $44 billion hostile takeover bid for Twitter, after delinquently reporting a 9% ownership stake and initially accepting a board seat. Twitter’s board agreed to sell the company to Musk on April 25. He waffled on the deal for months. Twitter sued him to complete the deal and Musk ended up buying the company in late October. He owns an estimated 82% of Twitter; other investors include Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, Twitter’s cofounder and former CEO Jack Dorsey and crypto company Binance.