How Did Elon Musk Make His Money 

Adaeze UC
Adaeze UC
20 Min Read
How Did Elon Musk Make His Money 


How Did Elon Musk Make His Money 
How Did Elon Musk Make His Money


How Did Elon Musk Make His Money? Elon Musk is arguably the most famous billionaire on earth.

Who is Elon Musk? 

Musk is a South Africa-born billionaire entrepreneur who serves as CEO of Tesla, a popular electric vehicle manufacturer, and SpaceX. Musk made an early fortune founding PayPal in 1999. EBay bought the company in 2002 for $1.5 billion, and Musk made $180 million from the deal, Time Magazine reported.

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With a net worth larger than those of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, Mr Musk’s electric car company Tesla and space exploration business SpaceX have given him a major public platform over the last decade.

Here’s the inspiring story of Elon Musk.


Elon Musk – Short Biography 

He was born Elon Reeve Musk on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. He is a native South African, and he also holds citizenship in Canada and the United States.

His father, Errol Musk, is a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, sailor, consultant, and property developer. His mother, Maye Haldeman Musk, is a dietician and model born in Saskatchewan, Canada. Elon has two other younger siblings, a brother, Kimbal (1972), and a sister, Tosca (1974).

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Elon Musk – Early Life

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that also goes for the richest person in the world and his fortune. His road to becoming the wealthiest man began in 1989 when he moved to Canada from South Africa to avoid mandatory military service.

He studied at Queen’s University in Ontario in 1990. He then moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1992, supporting himself through college. With over $100k in student debt, he graduated with a double major in physics and economics at Penn’s Wharton School of Business.


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Elon Musk – Personal Life

Along the road to his colossal success, Musk has become a very controversial figure.

He has been married and divorced three times, first to Canadian author Justine Wilson (2000) and twice to English actress Talulah Riley (2010/2013). He shares custody of his five sons with his ex-wife Wilson. He was even rumored to have dated actress Amber Heard while she was still married to Johnny Depp.

In 2018, he started dating Claire Elise Boucher, aka Grimes, the Canadian musician. Recently, the couple confirmed they have parted ways. They have a son (2020) named “X Æ A-Xii” and a daughter, Exa Dark Sideræl Musk (2021), nicknamed Y.

His children’s very colourful names naturally gave rise to a new wave of memes. But then, everything Musk has done helped him stay in the public eye and kept his fame growing. From smoking pot with Joe Rogan to making 4/20 tweets, Elon Musk sometimes seems like an unpredictable wildcard.

The latest procurement for the business tycoon was Twitter which started with a casual, humorous tweet that most people would ignore for being precisely that – but not when it’s Elon Musk.

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How did debt-straddled Elon turn his finances around to earn billions? 


Elon Musk said his success came from taking risks, and this is where he took his first big one.

After just two days, he said farewell to his Ph.D. physics program at Stanford to chase a unique opportunity to start a business.


Elon Musk – Career & Achievements

At a Glance: Elon Musk’s Companies

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Zip2 (1995) This start-up provided online guides of cities, including maps, and worked as a directory for newspapers.

In 1995, Elon, his brother Kimbal and another partner decided to jump into the internet, which was a new and rapidly-growing technology at the time. They borrowed money from their family and angel investors and launched Global Link Information.

Later, the company was rebranded as Zip2. They offered online guides of cities, including maps. It also worked as a directory for newspapers. The New York Times realised its potential and quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

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Zip2 grew to be a big hit and eventually caught the attention of the tech giant, Compaq.

In 1999, Zip2 was acquired by Compaq for over $300 million. Suddenly, Elon found himself with a lot of money when his share in the company gave him a payout of $22 million.

At the age of 27, he became a multi-millionaire. That was just the beginning, and he had no intentions of stopping.

SEE: 15 Smart Money Habits (1999) After merging with Confinity, became Paypal, the well-known digital payments platform used by merchants and consumers globally.

His next plan was already in motion: taking approximately $10 million from his $22 million, he started a new company called in 1999. This company focused on online financial services.

Later, a merger between Confinity and gave birth to the payment transfer giant we now know as PayPal.

As with everything in life, there are ups and downs. Elon was voted out as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PayPal when he was on vacation, and eBay acquired PayPay for a massive $1.5 billion.

However, things didn’t end for the eccentric visionary there. Since Elon owned shares of the company, he received $180 million, and yet again, he already had something else planned.

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SpaceX and Starlink

SpaceX (2002) This company designs and manufactures reusable rockets to facilitate space travel and exploration.Tesla, Inc. (2004) Initially an electric car company, Tesla, Inc. has outgrown automobile giants like Toyota, Honda, and Ford, that have dominated the market for decades. Now, the company also manufactures solar power systems and energy storage options.

In 2002, as founder and CEO, he launched one of his passion projects, SpaceX. According to Forbes, SpaceX gained recognition when it launched its first crewed space flight in May 2020. By October 2021, the company was valued at $100 billion.

Elon’s vision for SpaceX was to terraform Mars and make humanity a multi-planetary species. Talk about thinking way outside the box, but that got him to where he is now.

SpaceX made reusable rockets that land vertically. This saved a lot of material and cut down on the cost of retrieving the rocket again and again or bringing in the crashed parts.

The government and NASA now employ SpaceX since its rockets can be used up to 11 times, don’t crash land, and are a better and cheaper alternative.

Another project of SpaceX was Starlink. Consisting of a web of low orbit satellites, Starlink aims to provide internet to the entire globe at reasonable rates to connect regions with poor or no service.

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Tesla, Inc.

Contrary to what many think, Elon Musk wasn’t the person who founded Tesla. Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors in 2003.

In 2004, Musk invested $6.4 million in the electric car company. He joined the board of directors and took the seat of chairman.

In 2008, he took the position as the CEO of Tesla, Inc, and that crucial step brought him into the realm of billionaires.

In 2012, before the reveal of the Model X electric car from Tesla, his net worth was in the high millions. In 2013, when the production of the Model X started, his net worth surged from $680 million and crossed the billionaire boundary line.

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SolarCity (2006/2016) As a co-founder, Musk initially provided the concept and financial backing to his cousins’ business venture, SolarCity. It became the second largest provider of solar power systems in the United States. Later, Tesla, Inc. bought the company and merged it with its own battery energy storage products division to form Tesla Energy.

In 2016, the acquisition of SolarCity for $2 billion enabled Tesla, Inc. to expand further and start manufacturing solar power systems and energy storage options which further boosted the company’s profits.

In the same year, he also co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company aiming to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence (AI). 

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Musk is also the president of the Musk Foundation, established in 2002. Aside from supporting research and development in human space exploration, paediatrics, renewable energy, and “safe artificial intelligence,” this philanthropic organisation aims to help the world’s disaster areas by providing solar-power energy systems.

In April 2022, after dissolving some of his Tesla, Inc. shares, he tried to buy Twitter for $44 billion. However, his purchase of Twitter seems to be on hold for now.

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Neuralink (2016) One of Musk’s many companies with a futuristic goal, Neuralink aims to build a device that can be implanted in the brain and convert our thoughts into actions—helping people with disabilities.The Boring Company (2016) Formed to construct tunnels, this company built one underneath the SpaceX office in 2017 and another beneath the Las Vegas Convention Centre in 2021.


Elon Musk’s Twitter buyout explained. 

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On 4 April, Elon Musk bought a 9.1% stake in Twitter before announcing a takeover bid a few days later.

The social media giant’s board initially sought to halt the takeover, but then performed an about-turn – agreeing to sell the company to Musk for $44billion (£35.3 billion) on 25 April.

Twitter’s board agreed to sell the company to Musk for $44 billion in April 2022, after he disclosed a 9.1% stake and threatened a hostile takeover.

Twitter executives reportedly came under shareholder pressure to accept the deal after details emerged about how Elon Musk would finance his bid.

However, after almost two months of threatening to end the buyout, Elon Musk finally said he was pulling the plug on the deal on 8 July.

His change of heart appears to be related to the number of fake or spam accounts found on the platform – although there has been some speculation that the deal was only intended to destabilise Twitter, or to get it to reconsider its freedom of expression policies.

Mr Musk alluded to his opinions of the site’s hate speech policies in a series of Tweets posted on 26 April, and has also previously said his buyout was a bid to “own the libs” – i.e. frustrate people who are politically central or left-of-centre.

The businessman also said he would welcome disgraced former US President Donald Trump back to Twitter.

Trump was permanently suspended from the social media site in January 2021 “due to the risk of further incitement of violence” after rioters attempted to overturn the result of the 2020 US election at the Capitol in Washington DC.

While Elon Musk has announced his Twitter deal is dead, Twitter chair Bret Taylor has said the company is “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon” and would pursue legal action if that was not possible.

Since the takeover was launched, Twitter has brought in a hiring freeze, laid off workers, halted discretionary spending and fired two of its top managers.

In July 2022, Musk announced he was terminating the deal over both concerns. 

The company has sued Mr Musk for backing out of the deal in a lawsuit filed in Delaware.

Twitter sued Musk and the parties will go to court in October.

It could result in Elon Musk being legally forced to complete his Twitter takeover, or having to fork out billions of Dollars in damages.


Elon Musk – Cryptocurrency 

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Musk has made the price of Bitcoin break all-time records after he revealed Tesla invested $1.5billion in the cryptocurrency.

It soared beyond $48,000 in February 2021 on the cryptocurrency markets as investors raced to take advantage of an inevitable post-Musk surge.

Meanwhile, another tweet from Musk sent another cryptocurrency soaring after he described the once-mocked Dogecoin currency as “the future”.

The coin, which began as a joke in 2013, has surged in value by 1,250% over the past year after a huge number of investors decided to simultaneously pump cash into the coin to make it a legit trading option.

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Elon’s Net Worth

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After becoming the CEO of Tesla, Inc. and SpaceX, Musk wasn’t ashamed to show the world his vision for the future. Some poked fun at his far-flung concepts of space travel and AI, but that did not perturb him. His ventures proved to be very profitable. In recent years, the shares of Tesla, Inc. grew from $61 in 2019 to almost $750 currently.

As they did, Elon Musk became the world’s richest man, edging out Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg. He has held on to his crown up until now with $273 billion in estimated net worth – Forbes  


Is Elon Musk the richest man in the world? 

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In 2021, Musk surpassed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the richest man in the world. It’s not Jeff Bezos anymore.

A new billionaire every 30 hours: Wealth increased for the richest during pandemic, report says. 


How old was Elon Musk when he became a billionaire? 

Musk was 41 in 2012 when he became a billionaire, Insider reported.


Is Elon Musk married? 

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Elon Musk was married to Canadian author Justine Wilson from 2000 to 2008. He was also married to English actress Talulah Riley from 2010 to 2016. Musk has six children with Wilson and two children with his ex-girlfriend, singer Grimes.

Musk, who says he’s worried about population collapse, has nine children with three women including triplets and two sets of twins – Forbes. 


Elon Musk’s Tips for Success


In all the experiences Elon has undergone over the years, he faced many rough patches on his journey and still came out on top. Take it from someone who has seen so much of the world. His advice is nothing to scoff at because with experience comes wisdom, and he has a lot of it.

  • Elon’s first piece of advice was to “Do things that are useful to your fellow beings, to the world. It’s hard to be useful to the world, very hard”. In other words, do something beyond serving yourself, which he has exemplified in his work.
  • Secondly, “Try to have a positive net contribution to society. That’s something to aim for”. This follows the same logic – try to give back something positive to society and everyone will be better for it, including you.
  • Thirdly, “A lot of the time, the people you want as leaders are the people who don’t want to be leaders. Forcing yourself to do anything or be anyone you do not always end up in disappointment. Play to your strengths, and you’ll succeed.”
  • Fourth, “I would encourage people to read a lot of books. Try to ingest as much information as you can and develop good general knowledge, so you at least have a rough lay of the land of the knowledge landscape.”
  • Finally, communicate with one another. As Musk said: “Talk to people from different walks of life and industries, professions, and skills. Learn as much as possible.”


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Adaeze UC is a Blogger. She is the owner of, Adaeze UC Empire, Adaeze UC Foundation, and Online Talk with Adaeze (OTA). She is also a Commercial Model, One of the best faces that can sell a brand and its product.
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