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Elon Musk is now the wealthiest person in the world

Elon Musk is now the wealthiest person in the world
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Elon Musk is now the wealthiest person in the world

Highlights

On Thursday a 4.8% rally in the electric carmaker's share price helped Musk surpass Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Elon Musk, the successful entrepreneur behind Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, is now the world's wealthiest person.

On Thursday a 4.8% rally in the electric carmaker's share price propelled Musk past Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos into the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of 500. richest people in the world.

The South African-born engineer's net worth was $ 188.5 billion as of 10:15 am in New York, $ 1.5 billion more than Jeff Bezos, who has ranked first since October 2017. As CEO of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX, Musk is also a rival to Bezos, Blue Origin LLC owner, in a private space race.

The milestone crowns an extraordinary 12 months for Musk. Over the past year, his net worth skyrocketed by more than $ 150 billion in possibly the fastest wealth-building episode ever. What fueled his rise was an unprecedented rally in Tesla's stock price, which rose 743% last year thanks to steady earnings, inclusion in the S&P 500 Index, and enthusiasm from Wall Street and retail investors equally.

Bezos would still have a vast advantage over Musk had it not been for his divorce, which saw him give up about a quarter of his stake in Amazon to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, and his philanthropy. He donated stock worth about $ 680 million in November.

Stock options

The jump in Tesla's share price further inflates a valuation light-years away from other automakers on numerous metrics. Tesla produced just over half a million cars last year, a fraction of Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co's production. The company is poised for more short-term profits as Democrats captured both Senate seats of Georgia and handed over Congress control to the party that advocates for faster adoption of electric vehicles.

Musk, who is 49 years old, has benefited from Tesla's stratospheric rise in more ways than one. Besides his 20% stake in the automaker, he has about $ 42 billion in unrealized paper earnings on purchased stock options. Those values come from two grants he received in 2012 and 2018, the latter of which was the vastest salary agreement ever reached between a CEO and a corporate board.

Despite his astronomical earnings, Musk has said that he has little interest in material things and has few assets outside of Tesla and SpaceX's stakes. Last month in an interview, he told Axel Springer that his wealth's primary purpose is to accelerate humanity's evolution toward a space civilization.

"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."

Musk tweeted "How strange," after reports of his new status were published, then added, "Well, back to work."

The world's 500 wealthiest 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 people have fortunes of more than $ 100 billion, and another 20 are worth at least $ 50 billion.

Less than a week into the new year, the classification has already been altered by great rallies. Zhong Shanshan of China edged Warren Buffett to claim sixth place after shares in his bottled water company soared, adding $ 15.2 billion to his fortune.

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