The tech entrepreneur overtook Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to reach the top spot after Tesla’s share price rose today (Thursday). The electric vehicle company overtook Toyota last summer to become the world’s most valuable car maker, with a market value of $207.7bn (£166.4bn) on June 2, but Tesla’s worth has more than tripled in seven months to $700bn (£516bn) on Wednesday, according to the BBC.
That means Musk’s car company, which was founded in 2003, is more valuable than Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai, GM and Toyota combined.
While Tesla came within a whisker of hitting its 500,000 target for vehicle deliveries in 2020 — a record for the company — Toyota alone produced more than 7.1m vehicles in the 11 months from January to November inclusive.
After the news was pointed out by a Twitter account representing Tesla owners in Silicon Valley, California, Musk replied with, “How strange” and followed that with, “Well, back to work …”.
Well, back to work …
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 7, 2021
As reported in a Sunday Times Magazine about the rivalry between Musk and Bezos, the former was raised in South Africa and moved to the US at the age of 19 and spent his early twenties sleeping on sofas and showering at the YMCA.
His website X.com, a financial services company that merged to form PayPal, is how he made his fortune. He sold his share and used the funds to form both Tesla Motors and SpaceX, a commercial space company that is employed by national space agencies such as Nasa, and has ambitions to colonise Mars.
In a tweet dated October 12, 2018, pinned to his Twitter account, Musk wrote:
“About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth & half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens & we destroy ourselves.”
Bezos also has commercial space flight ambitions, having set up his Blue Origin company 20 years ago. The Amazon chief has also seen his wealth rise in the last 12 months, with Amazon prospering due to lockdown restrictions forcing consumers to buy products online, rather than on the high street.
The BBC says Musk was able to overtake Bezos partly due to a divorce settlement between Bezos and his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, amounting to 4% of his net worth.
Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent, said to believe Tesla’s value could rise so rapidly in 12 months was “the ultimate example of irrational exuberance.”
He conceded that Musk has often confounded critics who predicted Tesla would go bust, but added: “It means that Musk will have to show within the next five years that Tesla can make more profits than just about the whole of the rest of the motor industry combined just to justify the valuation.”
If you were interest in the fact the Elon Musk is now the world’s richest person, you might like to read about how James Dyson blew £500m of his own money on his aborted electric car project.