Elon Musk, 50, is a South African/Canadian-American entrepreneur and businessman who is the CEO and CTO of SpaceX, as well as the CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors. He edged out Jeff Bezos in 2021 to become the richest man in the world.
His current ventures keep the dollars rolling in. Tesla, for which he owns 21%, has a market cap of around $746 billion. SpaceX had a $100 billion valuation as of fall 2021.
Musk wears many hats, including inventor, executive and futurist — roles that have paid him well and have yielded him a net worth of $218 billion, according to Forbes as of May 19. He does so well that he does not take a salary from his work at Tesla, and despite the roller-coaster ride the stock market has been on, he remains the richest man on — and off — the planet.
Early Life and Career
Elon Reeve Musk, the eldest of three children, was born to Maye and Errol Musk in Pretoria, South Africa on June 28, 1971. His mother was Canadian, but he grew up in his father’s homeland of South Africa. His parents divorced in 1980 and he chose to live with his father. It was at about this time when he developed a love for computers and created and sold his first video game called “Blastar” when he was 12 years old. The game can be played here.
After graduating from Pretoria Boys High School in South Africa, he knew he wanted further his education in the United States, so he used his mother’s Canadian citizenship to get a passport and move to Canada where he attended Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario for two years. He then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with degrees in economics and physics in 1995. That same year, he enrolled at Stanford University to pursue a doctorate but dropped out after two days to join the internet boom.
In 1999, Musk sold Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options. He went on to found the company X.com, which was later acquired by eBay for $1.5 billion in stock in 2002. That same year, Musk created SpaceX. The following year, he joined Tesla. Today, he owns 47% of SpaceX and 21% of Tesla.
Elon Musk built his fortune by turning his visions into reality. His early interest in technology evolved into a career that made him the wealthiest person in the world as of 2021.
Elon Musk’s Personal Life
Musk has been married twice. From 2000 to 2008 he was married to Justine Wilson, an author. They have five surviving sons and share custody of them. In 2010, he married his second wife Talulah Riley. They divorced briefly in 2012 and remarried a year later only to get divorced again, making their split official in 2016.
He began dating Canadian musician Grimes, born Claire Elise Boucher, in 2018. They “semi-separated” in December of 2021, but remained close. So close in fact, that they recently welcomed a daughter together via surrogate. Baby Exa Dark Sideræl joins their son, X Æ A-Xii, who was born in 2020. According to an interview with Vanity Fair, Grimes has not ruled out more children with Musk.
His Intentional Lack of Real Estate
Musk previously owned a 100-year-old house in northern California that he bought for $23.364 million in 2017. His portfolio once showed six other homes in California. Those properties included a 20,000-square-foot house in Bel-Air that he bought for $17 million in 2012 and a 9,300-square-foot house that he paid $24.25 million for in 2016. After announcing that he would sell half his worldly possessions, Musk sold his six Southern California properties. He currently lives in a small home he rents from Tesla.
Does Elon Musk Embrace Philanthropy?
Since 2002, the Elon Musk Foundation has donated $280 million, with the bulk of this amount going to nonprofit science and education programs. The foundation also has funded $75 million in grants. In addition to donations from his foundation, Musk has given money to groups like Wikimedia Foundation, Big Green and Future of Life Institute.
Musk, who is not known to be philanthropic, gave away $150 million directly to charities between January and April of 2021. According to Recode, that doubled all his previous outlays combined.
Elon Musk continues his reign as the richest person on the planet and perhaps in the galaxy.
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Allison Hache contributed to the reporting on this article.