Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is a South African-born entrepreneur and innovator who has made a significant impact in the fields of technology and clean energy.
Born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk was interested in computers and technology from an early age, purchasing his first computer at the age of 10. In 1983, he created and sold his first commercial software game, Blastar.
After completing high school in South Africa, Musk left home at the age of 17 to attend college in Canada, in part to avoid serving in the apartheid-era South African military. He later attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he received dual degrees in physics and economics. After enrolling at Stanford University, Musk dropped out after just a few days to pursue his interests in the Internet, clean energy, and space.
In 1995, Musk co-founded Zip2, an online publishing platform, which he sold four years later to Compaq for over $300 million. He used some of the proceeds to start X.com, an online payment system that eventually merged with PayPal and was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
Following the success of PayPal, Musk turned his attention to space travel, establishing SpaceX in 2002 in a former airplane hangar near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). In 2008, the company delivered its first satellite into orbit, and it has since become a leading provider of space transportation services for NASA and other customers.
While working at SpaceX, Musk also began designing the all-electric Tesla Roadster, which was unveiled in 2006 and went into production in 2008. In 2010, Tesla Motors became the first company to produce a zero-emission sports car, and the company went public that same year.
In addition to his work with SpaceX and Tesla, Musk co-founded SolarCity, a provider of solar power systems, in 2006. SolarCity went public in 2012 and was acquired by Tesla in 2016.
Throughout his career, Musk has been a vocal advocate for clean energy and sustainability, and in 2012, he joined Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, committing to donate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes. He has also expressed his intention to retire on the planet Mars and has stated that he plans to establish a human settlement on the red planet.
In July 2020, Tesla became the world’s most valuable carmaker, and Musk became the world’s richest person in January 2021. In April 2022, he made an offer to purchase Twitter for $44 billion and eventually completed the acquisition in October 2022.
As the CEO of both publicly traded Tesla, the world’s most valuable carmaker, and closely held rocket business SpaceX, which counts NASA as a client, Elon Musk has made a significant impact in the technology and aerospace industries. According to a December 2022 regulatory filing, Musk owns about 13% of Tesla and holds about 279 million exercisable stock options from his 2018 mega grant.
SpaceX, which was valued at around $125 billion in a June 2022 funding round, is owned by Musk through a trust, in which he holds a 42.2% stake, according to a December 2022 filing with the Federal Communications Commission. However, this value has been reduced by 15% to account for the typical discounts that shares in unicorns, or private companies valued at over $1 billion, often receive on the secondary market.
In April 2022, Musk made an offer to purchase Twitter for $44 billion, which was completed in October 2022. Based on external investors disclosed in May 2022, he is estimated to own about 79% of the company. The value of this ownership stake is based on his offer price and adjusted for the performance of the Solactive Social Media Index.
According to Tesla’s 2022 proxy statement, about half of Musk’s shares in the company were pledged as collateral to secure personal indebtedness. The maximum loan allowable under this arrangement could be no more than 25% of the value of those shares, and 25% of the pledged shares have been deducted from his holding to account for the credit line. Musk has also revealed that some of his SpaceX shares were pledged as collateral, although he did not provide further details. In addition, a liability has been included to reflect the calculated pledges of SpaceX shares and other debt related to the difference between the cash Musk was calculated to have needed to purchase Twitter and the cash available to him at the time.