Recently, Tesla earned the distinction of being the most valuable United States automaker in history, reaching a record high market value of 86.5 billion dollars. A company that started in 2003, beating out long term companies like Ford and GM by a good 10 to 20 billion is quite a surprise and people are certainly reacting.
When I saw the news while riding in my Tesla on auto pilot, no less, I was astounded. Chances are, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of Elon Musk. When it comes to billionaires who have been in the spotlight, he’s one of the most eclectic billionaires around. And with a net worth of around $29 billion, he’s one of the wealthiest people out there.
But could he be wealthier? Could he dethrone Jeff Bezos to become the richest man on the planet? Could he even go as far as to become the world’s first trillionaire? Today, we’re going to take a look at how wealthy Elon could become. But first, we have to take a look at where he came from. Journey back with me to South Africa, then Canada, then Pennsylvania, then, well, this guy has been all over the place.
Born in South Africa, Elon was pretty much sent to be a tech nerd from the get go. He taught himself to code and sold his first bit of video game code at the age of twelve. In middle school and high school, he was frequently bullied by people who probably feel pretty stupid about that now. As a fellow nerd who got a few shoves back in the hayday, I’ve got to say, “success is the sweetest revenge”.
He went on to go to college in Canada. Then in the United States, where he paid for his rent by turning his college apartment into a speakeasy and charging five bucks ahead, entreprenuers come in all forms, don’t they? After earning his bachelor’s degree in physics and economics, he went on to form a startup with his brother called Zip 2, which was basically an Internet Yellow Pages with a map included.
All the businesses that were around to before smartphones. Four years later, in 1999, he sold Zip 2 for 307 million dollars, earning Elon 22 million bucks, all on his own. For a 28 year old, twenty two million isn’t too shabby. While a lot of people that age would take the money and spend it on a yacht and a house in the Hollywood Hills, Elon had quite a bit more business in mind.
He invested the money in x.com, an online banking service that was eventually bought out by PayPal. Elon’s earnings from that little journey, one hundred and eighty million dollars. So now we know how Elon racked up all that money to form the companies he owns today. But how much are those companies earning him and how much will they go on to earn?
We know Tesla. We’ve seen those cars clogging up the freeway. We’ve seen Elon’s wacky antics at the helm of the company, like busting some pretty memeable moves on stage in Shanghai. With that market value of 86.5 billion, it’s clear that Tesla is doing a okay. Since Elon owns approximately 38.6 million shares in Tesla, it’s safe to say he’s doing a little more than a okay.
But in an announcement in 2018, Tesla announced it won’t be paying Elon a dime for the next 10 years, under a 12 step performance plan, unless Tesla nearly doubles its value. If Tesla manages to hit all 12 performance milestones, reaching a market value of 650 billion dollars, Elon would own one hundred and eighty four billion dollars worth of Tesla stock alone, making him more wealthy than Jeff Bezos with just his Tesla stock.
But six hundred and fifty billion dollars is a lot of money. Enough money to give every single person in the United States a thousand dollars with a couple of billion left to spare. Is it feasible that Tesla could make that much? Considering the fact that in 2018 Tesla’s sales increased by 280 percent and their services and other revenue increased by 68 percent in quarter three of 2019.
It looks like their consistently increasing sales are leaning in that direction. But one hundred and eighty four billion in Tesla stock doesn’t exactly make a trillionaire. Lucky for Elon, he’s got a few other companies dabbling their little robot fingers in some other ventures. Space X is one of Elon’s well-known business ventures.
They do a lot of work, building in the same rocket engines, developing private spaceflight vehicles, scaring the entire city of Los Angeles with their launches, you know, usual business stuff. As you’d imagine, aerospace companies rack up some out of this world money, with an estimated value of 30 $3.3 billion, Space X is no different.
However, it’s their plan for the future that really manages to set them apart. With the intention to colonize Mars, create private, affordable spaceflights and resume American astronauts spaceflight. They have a lot on their plate. But it’s their star link program that’s expected to really reel in the dough. Starlink is a satellite initiative intending to provide high speed and low cost Internet across the globe.
Really the only two things you could want from the Internet. But how much is it going to be worth? A recent analysis by Morgan Stanley expects Starlink to blast Space X’s value to $120 billion within the next couple of years, earning an additional 30 to 50 billion dollars annually. Once all 12000 satellites are up and providing Internet to countries, companies and the United States government, it’s hard to say how high this company’s market value will skyrocket.
And that’s just from the Starlink program alone. Since Elon owns 54 percent of Space X’s stock, he is looking at a pretty hefty amount of money going into his net worth. That all being said, as of now, Space X is private, if they ever switch to public as Elon has stated they’re planning to, their market value could drastically increase.
So as of now, we have a rough estimate of one hundred and eighty four billion and one hundred and twenty billion with an additional 30 to 50 billion a year. But if you’re Elon, you can’t just have an aerospace company and a car company, can you? I mean, that’d just be boring. See where I’m going with this? Yes, the boring company,the company that digs tunnels and sells flamethrowers, labeled as not a flamethrower for profit.
90 percent of the equity is owned by Elon, with another 6 percent held by Space X. The boring company plans on creating an underground high speed transportation tunnel that runs from Los Angeles to Seattle along freeways and is accessible only by Teslas and other electronic vehicles. While that may not sound profitable, the entire system is estimated to earn $5 for every $1 spent.
And with Elon owning 90 percent equity, that’s a lot of profit once the system is approved and in use. As if tunnel transportation, aerospace, car and solar isn’t enough, Elon is also the majority owner of Neuralink, a brain computer interface program. No word has really come out about the company’s profits and they’ve remained relatively hush hush about what they are working on.
But it seems like some sci fi movie material will be coming from that business soon. Neuralink shares its building with OpenAI, another company founded by Elon. The company is aimed at creating friendly, helpful A.I., in other words, creating A.I. that won’t cause a robot uprising. Microsoft invested $1 billion in open A.I. in 2019.
So it’s safe to say someone else thinks open A.I. is going to profit. Well, there you have it. The businesses owned and operated by Elon. Can you imagine what this poor guy’s email inbox looks like every day? Though, it’s tough to say how much these companies are going to earn Elon, it seems like that trillion dollar mark isn’t too far off.
Who knows what the research companies will develop or how much that underground tunnel will really earn him. Time will tell. But things certainly are looking good for his bank account. What do you think? Will Elon become the world’s first trillionaire or will that title remain unclaimed?
Let me know what you think down in the comments below. If you enjoyed, make sure to leave a like and share