How did Elon Musk make his money?

Elon Musk is a self-made billionaire, the CEO of several Fortune 500 companies, a social media icon, and the 2nd richest man in the world.

Elon Musk made his money by building some of the world’s most prestigious companies including PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla. He sold PayPal in 2002 for a whopping $180 million dollars, and then used his earnings to launch SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City. 

Unlike most people, Elon Musk does NOT have a salary.

Instead, he owns stocks in different companies like SpaceX and Tesla, and as his businesses become more successful, his stocks increase in value.

In this comprehensive guide we will teach you everything you need to know about Elon Musk and how he became the richest man in the world, with a peak net worth of $340 billion dollars.

We will also answer your most important questions, including:

  • Why did Elon Musk sell PayPal?
  • What was Elon Musk’s first company?
  • Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter for $44 billion?
  • Does Elon Musk really want to send humans to Mars?

…And much more!

We even show you how to start your own businesses like Elon Musk, and grow your net worth faster than you ever thought possible… 

Elon Musk Complete Profile 2023

  • Net Worth: $164 billion dollars
  • Profession: Entrepreneur
  • Monthly Income: $1.3 billion
  • Yearly Income: $15.3 billion
  • Born: June 28, 1971
  • Age: 51 years old
  • Nationality: South African
  • Citizenship: United States
  • Zodiac Sign: Cancer
  • Partner: Grimes (2018 – present)

How Did Elon Musk Make His Money?

Elon Musk is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in history.

He started over 9 different businesses, including some of the most prestigious companies in the world including Tesla and SpaceX. 

Contrary to popular belief, Elon Musk did NOT inherit money from his family. He was actually quite poor growing up, and graduated from college with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt! 

So how did Elon Musk make his money?

Elon Musk became a millionaire by building and selling internet companies including Zip2 and PayPal. He sold Zip2 in 1999 for $18 million dollars, and PayPal in 2002 for $180 million dollars! 

Elon Musk could have retired at this point with almost $200 million dollars in the bank. Instead of returning, he reinvested his fortune into three new businesses: SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City.

Elon says all three companies nearly went bankrupt. However, in the end they were all wildly successful, and today Elon Musk is the 2nd richest man in the world with a net worth of over $100 billion dollars!

Elon Musk Timeline For Getting Rich

  • Sold Zip2 in 1999 for $22 million
  • Sold PayPal in 2001 for $180 million
  • Founded SpaceX in 2002, now worth $62 billion
  • Founded Tesla in 2004, now worth $64 billion
  • Purchased Twitter in 2022, now worth $42 billion

Elon Musk may be a billionaire, but he describes himself as extremely “cash poor.”

He has most of his net worth tied up in his various companies including Tesla and SpaceX. He owns shares of these companies, and as their share prices increase, so does his net worth. 

“I always invest my own money in the companies that I create.

I don’t believe in the whole thing of just using other people’s money. I don’t think that’s right.”

Elon Musk made most of his money with three businesses: PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX.

Those are his most successful businesses, but they aren’t his only ones! The truth is Elon Musk has started almost 10 companies in total:

Elon Musk’s Business Ventures

  • Business #1: Zip2
  • Business #2: PayPal
  • Business #3: SpaceX
  • Business #4: Tesla
  • Business #5: SolarCity
  • Business #6: OpenAI
  • Business #7: Neuralink
  • Business #8: The Boring Company
  • Business #9: Twitter

Some of Elon Musk’s more recent business ventures include OpenAI, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and Twitter.

So why does Elon Musk start all of these different companies?

Elon Musk says he is not motivated by money. Instead, his primary goal is to solve difficult problems for humanity, and improve the quality of life for people all around the world.

“For me it was never about money, but solving problems for the future of humanity.

For me it was never about money, but solving problems for as many people as possible.”

Of course, solving difficult problems for humanity is a great way to get rich!

What Is Elon Musk’s Net Worth?

Elon Musk has a net worth of $144 billion dollars in 2023, making him the second richest man in the world. 

Elon was previously the richest man in the world with a peak net worth of $340 billion dollars.

However, the share price of Tesla dropped by more than 50% in 2022, which negatively impacted his net worth. 

Elon Musk Net Worth By Year

  • January 2013: $2.7 Billion 
  • January 2014: $8.0 Billion
  • January 2015: $10.5 Billion
  • January 2016: $11.8 Billion
  • January 2017: $10.7 Billion
  • January 2018: $20.4 Billion
  • January 2019: $22.3 Billion
  • January 2020: $28.5 Billion
  • January 2021: $170 Billion
  • January 2022: $270 Billion
  • January 2023: $164 Billion

As you can see, Elon Musk’s net worth has changed enormously over the years.

He had a net worth of $2.7 billion in January 2013, and by January 2023 his net worth increased to $144 billion!

This means Elon Musk’s net worth increased by an average of $14 billion dollars every year for the past 10 years!

Elon Musk may be wildly wealthy, but he insists he is not motivated by money.

Instead, he just wants to do useful things for humanity, like popularizing electric cars, colonizing Mars, and developing safe open-source AI programs!

“I just want to retire before I go senile because if I don’t retire before I go senile, then I’ll do more damage than good at that point.”

Elon Musk has started almost 10 different companies, including Neuralink, Solar City, and OpenAI.

However, he has most of his net worth tied up in 3 assets: Tesla stocks, SpaceX stocks, and cash.

Elon Musk’s Biggest Assets

  • Musk owns 15% of Tesla
  • Musk owns 44% of SpaceX
  • Musk owns $17 billion in cash

Elon Musk says he feels very comfortable having most of his net worth in his companies, as he has 100% control over how successful they will be. 

What Is Elon Musk’s Salary?

Elon Musk is the 2nd richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of $144 billion dollars.

So what kind of salary does the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter have?

Elon Musk does NOT have a salary. Instead, he makes all of his money with stock options through his various companies like SpaceX and Tesla. When the value of his companies go up, his stocks increase in value, and so does his net worth! 

This is the same way that Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and other entrepreneurs became the richest billionaires in the world! 

Elon Musk may not have a fixed salary, but he sure knows how to make money!

Elon’s total net worth increased from about $3 billion in January 2013 to $164 billion in January 2023. This means Elon Musk was earning more than $15 billion dollars per year on average! 

Elon Musk’s Salary / Income

  • Per Year: $15.3 Billion
  • Per Month: $1.3 Billion
  • Per Week: $294.2 Million
  • Per Day: $42 Million
  • Per Hour: $1.75 Million
  • Per Minute: $29,200
  • Per Second: $486.50

Based on our research, we concluded that Elon Musk makes $15.3 billion per year, $1.3 billion per month, $292.4 million per week, $42 million per day, $1.75 million per hour, $29,200 per minute, and a whopping $486.50 per second!

Again, Elon Musk does not have a fixed salary.

These numbers are based on how fast his net worth increased through his various stock options with Tesla, SpaceX, and so on.

“Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.”

Elon Musk says he was able to grow his net worth quickly by working 80 – 100 hour work weeks.

Basically, if Elon Musk is awake, then he is working!

“That’s my lesson for taking a vacation: Vacation will kill you.”

This is a very extreme way to live. However, Elon Musk says it is the best way to build a billion dollar company. 

Did Elon Musk Inherit His Money?

Some people wonder if Elon Musk inherited money from his parents.

Was Elon born rich, or is he really a self-made billionaire?

Elon Musk was not born into wealth, and did NOT inherit any money from his parents. Instead, he built and sold internet companies like Zip2 and Paypal for hundreds of millions of dollars, and then used that money to launch other world-class companies including Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City.

Elon Musk says he was born into a poor family in South Africa. His parents could afford to feed him, but they didn’t have enough money to buy basic necessities that we take for granted today.

Of course, that doesn’t mean he had a normal childhood.

Elon was a prolific reader, and read almost every book in his library from a very young age. He also liked to annoy his parents by asking them complicated questions about nearly everything!

“I would just question things… It would infuriate my parents…

That I wouldn’t just believe them when they said something ’cause I’d ask them why.

And then I’d consider whether that response made sense given everything else I knew.”

Elon Musk says he was determined to get out of Africa and make a name for himself.

He skipped several grades growing up, and by the time he was 17 years old he was attending college in Canada for business and engineering.

Elon Musk Childhood And Early Life

  • Born in South Africa on June 28th, 1971 
  • Read all the books in his library by age 9
  • Built his first computer game by age 12
  • Attended Queen’s University in Canada at age 17
  • Transferred to Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Attended graduate school at Stanford for 2 days
  • Dropped out of graduate school to start Zip2 and PayPal

Elon Musk says dropping out of college was one of the best decisions he ever made, as you don’t actually learn anything in college.

College is designed to build employees, NOT entrepreneurs. 

“Colleges are basically for fun and to prove you can do your chores. But they are not for learning.”

Elon Musk says Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and most successful entrepreneurs drop out of college, so how useful can it actually be?

Is Elon Musk The Richest Man In the World?

Elon Musk became the richest man in the world in September 2021, beating out other billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffet.

Elon Musk’s wealth peaked in November 2021 when Tesla stock hit an all-time high of more than $400 dollars per share!

Elon Musk looked like the king of the world, with an estimated net worth of $340 billion dollars. Unfortunately, the price of Tesla stock crashed by more than 50% in 2022, and Elon Musk’s net worth crashed back down.

Today Elon Musk is the 2nd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $164 billion dollars.

Bernard Arnault is currently the richest man in the world, with an estimate net worth of $180 billion dollars.

The 10 Richest People In The World (Updated 2023)

  • Bernard Arnault – $180 billion
  • Elon Musk – $164 billion
  • Gautam Adani – $134 billion
  • Bill Gates – $108 billion
  • Jeff Bezos – $108 billion
  • Warren Buffett – $105 billion
  • Larry Ellison – $103 billion
  • Mukesh Ambani – $102 billion
  • Steve Ballmer – $91 billion
  • Larry Page – $81 billion

Elon Musk says most of the richest billionaires in the world have one thing in common: they all got rich by building successful businesses.

Elon Musk got rich with Tesla and SpaceX, Bill Gates got rich with Microsoft, Jeff Bezos got rich with Amazon, and so on.

“It’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.”

Elon believes going all-in on one big business is a great way to get rich.

Some people say this strategy is risky, as you are putting all of your eggs in one basket. However, Elon Musk says this is a great idea, because you have 100% control over your own company.

Why Did Elon Musk Buy Twitter?’

Elon Musk bought the social media platform Twitter in August 2022 for $44 billion dollars.

Many people have questions about Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover…

  • Why did Elon Musk buy Twitter?
  • Does Elon Musk have ulterior motives?
  • Is Elon Musk a threat to our democracy?

The truth is Elon Musk bought twitter because he believes free speech is essential to a functioning democracy.

He was concerned about the pro-censorship policies at Twitter, and believes the only way the United States (or any other country) can succeed is with an open dialogue between different groups of people with opposing ideas.

“The reason why I acquired twitter is it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence.”

Many people believe that Elon Musk’s pro-free-speech policies are a threat to our democracies, as if anyone can say anything they want online, then disinformation will rapidly spread and we won’t know what to believe anymore.

Elon Musk says he will tackle this issue by using some ground rules for what can and cannot be said on the platform.

“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”

However, overall, Elon Musk wants to make Twitter a free speech platform where anyone can say almost anything they want.

He has even started reinstating banned individuals back on the platform, including Donald Trump and Andrew Tate.

Is Elon Musk Really Sending Humans To Mars?

Elon Musk says the human race is extremely vulnerable to a mass extinction event here on Earth.

He believes the only way to ensure that humanity lives on into the future is to make humanity a multi-planetary species.

And that means colonizing the only other habitable planet in our solar system: Mars. 

“An asteroid or a supervolcano could certainly destroy us, but we also face risks the dinosaurs never saw:

An engineered virus, nuclear war, inadvertent creation of a micro black hole, or some as-yet-unknown technology could spell the end of us.”

Elon Musk started the company SpaceX with one simple mission: to accelerate the development of space technology, so that humans can become a multi-planetary species.

Elon says the #1 challenge with colonizing Mars is actually getting humans to the red planet in the first place. Right now it’s simply too expensive to fly humans to Mars.

To solve this issue, Elon is developing reusable rockets that could be used for hundreds of separate missions.

This would dramatically bring down the cost of space travel, and allow humans to actually conquer Mars.

“To our knowledge, life exists on only one planet, Earth. If something bad happens, it’s gone.

I think we should establish life on another planet–Mars in particular–but we’re not making very good progress.

SpaceX is intended to make that happen.”

Elon says once we have the ability to fly humans to Mars, we have to work on making the planet more habitable to humans.

He recommends dropping nuclear bombs on the North and South pole of Mars! This would melt the polar ice caps, and release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This would slowly heat up the planet, and create the conditions necessary for supporting life as we know it. 

Elon Musk Frequently Asked Questions

  • FAQ #1: How Tall Is Elon Musk?
  • FAQ #2: Did Elon Musk Grow Up Rich?
  • FAQ #3: Did Elon Musk Go To College?
  • FAQ #4: Are Grimes And Musk Married?
  • FAQ #5: What Is Elon Musk’s IQ?
  • FAQ #6: Where Does Elon Musk Live?
  • FAQ #7: Why Does Elon Musk Like Mars?
  • FAQ #8: Does Elon Musk Own A Private Jet?
  • FAQ #9: Can Elon Musk Run For President?

Let’s take a closer look at each of these questions.

How Tall Is Elon Musk?

Elon Musk is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs approximately 200 pounds.

Did Elon Musk Grow Up Rich?

Elon Musk did not grow up rich. His parents were very poor, and he did not have any money until he sold Zip2 in 1999 for $18 million dollars.

Did Elon Musk Go To College?

Elon Musk went to college at Queens University in Ontario, and the University of Pennsylvania. Elon briefly attended graduate school at Stanford, before quickly dropping out to build Zip2. 

Are Grimes And Musk Married?

Grimes and Musk recently had their first child together. However, they are not getting married.

What Is Elon Musk’s IQ?

Elon Musk has an IQ of 155, which qualifies him as a genius. For reference, Albert Einstein is estimated to have had an IQ of around 160.

Where Does Elon Musk Live?

Elon Musk lives in a small $50,000 dollar apartment in Austin, Texas.

Why Does Elon Musk Love Mars?

Elon Musk says Mars is the closest potentially habitable planet to Earth, and he wants to send the first humans to Mars by 2030 at the very latest.

Does Elon Musk Own A Private Jet?

Yes, Elon Musk owns a private jet. He owns a 2015 Gulfstream G650ER, which costs approximately $20 million dollars.

Can Elon Musk Run For President?

Elon Musk was born in South Africa. Only individuals born in the United States can run for president, so no, Elon Musk cannot run for president.

Verdict | How Did Elon Musk Make His Money?

Elon Musk is one of the most iconic entrepreneurs in the world today.

He started many of the world’s most successful companies including Tesla, SpaceX, PayPal, and The Boring Company.

He also acquired the social media platform Twitter in 2022 for a staggering $44 billion dollars.

Elon Musk made his money by building and selling profitable internet companies like Zip2 and PayPal, and then re-investing those funds into new business projects like SpaceX, Tesla, and Solar City.

Elon believes the fastest way to increase your net worth is to find a profitable business and invest everything you can back into it.

This strategy may not work for everyone. After all, many people are comfortable working regular jobs and investing in the stock market.

However, for Elon Musk and other mega billionaires, building a successful business is the fastest way to make tons of money and get super rich!