How Elon Musk made his £141billion fortune and became world’s richest man

Tesla: Elon Musk details plans to create humanoid robot

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Elon Musk has officially overtaken Amazon creator Jeff Bezos by $2billion (£1.4billion) to become the richest individual on the planet. His innovations and businesses have become household brands and it appears there is no industry that he won’t venture into, but where did it all start?

Mr Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1971 to a Canadian model mother and South African engineer father, where his interest with computers and programming fully manifested by the age of 12.

In fact, Mr Musk was so engrossed in his thoughts of creative inventions that his parents went to get his hearing tested.

Mr Musk also taught himself how to program out of sheer interest and sold his first software at 12 years old; a game he called Blastar.

The small and bookish youngster was often bullied at school until a teen growth spurt paired with karate and wrestling training meant he learned to defend himself.

His childhood was not filled with the riches his children are now growing up with. After his parents divorced in 1981 his mother worked five jobs at a point to support Mr Musk and his two siblings.

In 1989 Mr Musk went to attend Queen’s University in Canada.

Three years later he left to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.

That’s not where his educational journey ended though as, now armed with two bachelor’s degrees, he continued to Stanford University to pursue a PhD in energy physics.

The internet boom saw him dropping out of Stanford after only two days to launch his first company.

Zip2 Corporation was created in 1995 with Mr Musk and his brother Kimbal Musk at the helm.

Zip2 quickly topped the charts, providing content for both The New York Times and Chicago Tribune websites, in 1999 the brothers sold Zip2 for $307million (£225million) cash to a division of Compaq Computer Corporation.

In October 2002, at the age of 31, Mr Musk earned his first billion when the online financial services company he and Kimbal founded with the money from the Zip2 sale was acquired by eBay for $1.5billion (£1.1billion).

Originally named X.com, this company would go on to be renamed as PayPal.

Quickly moving on from this acquisition, Mr Musk founded one of his most noteworthy businesses SpaceX in 2002 with the intention of creating commercial space travel a reality.

By 2008 SpaceX was awarded a contract by NASA to handle cargo transport for the International Space Station, potentially replacing NASA’s own space shuttle missions in the future as well.

Mr Musk made history in 2012 when SpaceX became the first private company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station.

Since then SpaceX has hit milestone after milestone, most recently receiving permission from the US government to launch a fleet of satellites to provide internet services which would be dubbed Starlink.

This initiative is well underway with a total of 120 satellites being launched throughout 2019.

His other noteworthy ventures have included Tesla Motors which is dedicated to producing affordable mass-market electric cars with The Roadster released in 2020 being the fastest production car ever made: going 0 to 60 miles in 1.9 seconds.

Mr Musk has also most recently created SolarCity in August 2016, which promotes sustainable energy, and The Boring Company in January 2017 devoted to creating tunnels to reduce street traffic.

Mr Musk and Mr Bezos seem to be consistently neck and neck in the race for world’s richest person. Currently, Mr Musk’s net worth stands at an astonishing $192billion (£141billion) whilst Mr Bezos has fallen slightly behind at $190billion (£139billion).
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