How did Elon Musk make his money?

Elon Musk is a centibillionaire who is best known for Tesla and SpaceX. But how did he make his money? We take a look at his journey.

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Elon Reeve Musk made his money in several industries, though Tesla is currently his most successful enterprise. A business magnate and engineer, Musk is one of the richest people in the world. He’s also known for investing in risky industries, including space rockets and electric cars when both seemed the stuff of science fiction.

In fact, Musk has said that one of the keys to his success is taking risks. When he created SpaceX, a rocket-building company, he was quoted saying, “Creating a rocket company has to be one of the dumbest and hardest ways to ‘make money’. But I thought, ‘nobody is going to be crazy enough to do space, so I’d better do space.'” 

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Where did Elon Musk go to college?

Musk was born and grew up in South Africa, where he eventually enrolled at the University of Pretoria. He soon moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University before moving on to the University of Pennsylvania. He eventually graduated with two bachelor’s degrees: one in economics and one in physics.

When he was 23 years old, Musk held internships at an energy storage company and a video game developer. A year later, he joined Stanford University’s PhD programme in energy physics and materials science but quit after just a few days to pursue his own business. Still, these studies and internships formed the base for how Elon Musk made his money later on.

How did Elon Musk become a millionaire?

Just after leaving Stanford in 1995, Elon Musk and his brother Kimbal founded Zip2 Corporation. The company provided city guide and directory software to newspapers. In 1999, the company was sold to Compaq Computer Corporation for over $300 million (£216 million). At the age of 27, Musk became a self-made millionaire.

Musk used the money from that sale to start, which eventually morphed into PayPal. After just three years, eBay acquired PayPal for a cool $1.5 billion (around £1.1 billion), of which Musk received a significant portion.


Is Elon Musk a billionaire?

By the 2000s, Elon Musk was doing big things. In 2001, he pursued one of his biggest passions when he founded SpaceX, which designs and manufactures rockets and spacecraft.

In 2004 he joined Tesla’s board of directors just a year after the company’s foundation. By 2007, Musk had assumed leadership of the company and was overseeing designs and manufacturing.

Both SpaceX and Tesla had some rocky years along the way, but SpaceX eventually generated billions of dollars in government contracts. In 2020, the company sent two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The next step is private flights into orbit on the company’s Crew Dragon vehicle. This alone could generate many more millions for Musk.

Musk debuted on the Forbes Billionaires List in 2012, thanks to Tesla. Just a few months earlier, Forbes had estimated that Musk’s net worth was ‘only’ $680 million (£490 million). But once Tesla unveiled the Model X car (and before it went into production in early 2013), Tesla stock skyrocketed and pushed Musk into the billionaire list.

Elon Musk is also a co-owner of SolarCity, a company that focuses on solar panels and systems and is now a subsidiary of Tesla.

How much money does Elon Musk have now?

As of 2020, Elon Musk is a centibillionaire (somebody with more than one hundred billion in a given currency) and the second richest person in the world with a fortune of $162.4 billion (£117.3 billion).

Just a year ago, in March 2020, Musk was ranked 35th in the list of richest people in the world. Since then, Tesla’s stock split caused a massive 720% growth. At one point, the stock earned him over $10 billion (£7.2 billion) in a week.

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