Elon Musk, the eccentric engineer from Pretoria, has started 2021 with yet another ambitious task in sight – being the richest man in the world. In November, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO supplanted Bill Gates as the second richest man. Now, he’s got first place in his sights. Bloomberg reports that Musk is now ‘within $3bn of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’. Bezos has held that position for just over three years now. Musk’s monumental wealth increase is thanks largely to an ‘unprecedented rally’ in Tesla’s share price, which saw his net worth soar ‘by more than $146bn’. – Jarryd Neves
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Elon Musk close to surpassing Jeff Bezos as world’s richest person
By Devon Pendleton and Dana Hull
(Bloomberg) – Elon Musk, the outspoken entrepreneur behind Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, kicked off the new year by homing in on a characteristically audacious title: the richest person on the planet.
A 4.9% rally in the electric carmaker’s share price Wednesday boosted Musk to within $3bn of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, who currently occupies the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.
The South Africa-born engineer’s net worth was $184.5bn at 11:40am in New York, just shy of Bezos, who has held the top spot since October 2017. As chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, Musk is also a rival to Bezos, owner of Blue Origin LLC, in the private space race.
The milestone caps an extraordinary 12 months for Musk. Over the past year his net worth soared by more than $146bn in possibly the fastest bout of wealth creation in history. Fueling his rise was an unprecedented rally in Tesla’s share price, which surged 743% last year on the back of consistent profits, inclusion in the S&P 500 Index and enthusiasm from Wall Street and retail investors alike.
Musk, 49, has benefited from Tesla’s stratospheric rise in more than one way. In addition to his 20% stake in the automaker, he’s sitting on $41.1bn of unrealised paper gains on vested stock options. Those securities come from two grants he received in 2012 and 2018, the latter of which was the largest pay deal ever struck between a CEO and a corporate board.
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 civilisation.
“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.”
The world’s 500 richest people added a record $1.8 trillion to their combined net worth last year, equivalent to a 31% increase. The gains were disproportionately at the top, where five individuals hold fortunes in excess of $100 billion and another 20 are worth at least $50 billion.
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