net worth, is now $185 billion. This
meant that he has overtaken Jeff
Bezos, the boss and founder of the
Amazon Company. Mr. Bezos has
been at the top of the Forbes “rich
list” for the last three years.
Mr. Musk helped to set up Tesla, an
American electric vehicle and clean
energy company. He is the compa-
ny’s chief executive officer (CEO) or
boss. Mr. Musk’s net worth is mainly
due to the Tesla shares that he owns.
Over the last 12 months, these shares
have increased in value seven-fold.
The share price is now around $850.
This means that the Tesla Compa-
ny’s market capitalization (or value) is
Now 49 years old, Mr. Musk was
born in South Africa. His father is a
South African and his mother is from
Canada. At the age of ten, Mr. Musk
became interested in computer pro-
gramming. His parents divorced. For
a time, Mr. Musk lived with his father.
He decided that he wanted to live and
work in the U.S. Mr. Musk applied for
Canadian citizenship. He thought that
it would be easier to move to the U.S.
In Canada, Mr. Musk stayed with
a few relatives on his mother’s side.
He then attended a Canadian
university. Two years later, he
transferred to an American
university where he studied physics.
Mr. Musk now holds South African,
Canadian and American
Forbes is an American publishing
company. It is well known for its
twice-monthly business magazine.
Forbes tracks the wealth of success-
ful business people. Each year, it
publishes a list of billionaires, or the
world’s richest people.
On January 7, Forbes announced
that Elon Musk had become the
world’s richest person. His wealth, or
(James Duncan Davidson)
citizenship. In 1994, Mr. Musk
moved to Silicon Valley in
California. At that time, the
“internet boom” was just
beginning. Silicon Valley is where
many internet companies are
In 1995, with a few friends, Mr.
Musk set up a software company.
At first, he slept in the office
because he could not afford an
apartment. The company
developed an online city guide
that included directions, maps and
advertising. Mr. Musk made $22
million when a large computer
firm bought the company.
Mr. Musk then cofounded an email
payment company in 1999. Af-ter
merging with another company,
the name was changed to PayPal.
In 2002, eBay agreed to buy PayPal
for $1.5 billion. Mr. Musk received
$165 million for his PayPal shares.
By this time, Mr. Musk had be-
come interested in space travel.
With the money he made from
PayPal, Mr. Musk set up Space
Exploration Technologies. Its
trading name is SpaceX. A few
years later, Mr. Musk invested a
large amount of money in a new
company called Tesla Motors.
It planned to make electric cars. Two
other people had founded the
company. As its biggest investor, Mr.
Musk took over as Tesla’s boss. The
company’s main factory was built in
SpaceX developed a type of re-usable
rocket. The lower part falls back to
the Earth, but lands upright. In the
past, these lower stages fell into the
sea. SpaceX’s reusable rocket made
space launches far less expen-sive. The
company makes money by launching
Nowadays, NASA (the American Space
agency) does not build its own rockets.
Instead, it pays SpaceX and other
companies, such as Boeing, to launch
its spacecraft. SpaceX has built its own
reusable spacecraft or space capsule
called Dragon. Seven months ago, for
the first time, it took two American
astronauts to and from the
International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX has been testing its Falcon
Heavy Rockets. These are designed
to take large payloads into space. Mr.
Musk says his ambition is to establish
a self-sustaining city on Mars. Power-
ful rockets such as the Falcon Heavy
will be needed to do this.
At first, the Tesla Company had
serious production problems. Many
people wanted to buy its cars, but
the factory was not able to produce
them quick enough. Each year, Tes-
la lost a large amount of money. Last
year, the company sold 500,000 cars
and made a $1 billion profit. This was
the first time that the company had
Investors believe that Tesla will be
very successful in the future. This is
why they want to buy the compa-
ny’s shares. As demand for the shares
increases, their price goes up. Yet,
some people think that Tesla shares
are now overvalued. With its current
share price, Tesla is now worth more
than Toyota, Volkswagen, Hyundai,
GM, and Ford combined.
Mr. Musk is a controversial figure.
He has got into trouble for posting
certain messages on the internet.
When he heard that he had become
the world’s richest person, Mr. Musk
posted a message that said, “How
strange”. A few minutes later, it was
followed by another, “Well, back to
Launch of a