Photo: Steve Jurvetson / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Born: June 28, 1971
Age: 49 Years
Born Place: Pretoria, South Africa
Citizenship: South Africa (1971–present) | Canada (1971–present) | United States (2002–present)
Alma mater: University of Pennsylvania (BS & BA; 1997)
Occupation: Entrepreneur, industrial designer, engineer
Net worth: Decrease US$164.2 billion (As of 25 March 2021)
Title: Founder, CEO, the lead designer of SpaceX, CEO product architect of Tesla, Inc.
Founder of The Boring Company and X.com, Co-founder of Neuralink, OpenAI, and Zip2, Chairman of SolarCity
Spouse(s): Justine Wilson (m. 2000; div. 2008) | Talulah Riley (m. 2010; div. 2012) (m. 2013; div. 2016)
Partner(s): Grimes (2018–present)
Parents: Errol Musk (father) | Maye Musk (mother)
Relatives: Tosca Musk (sister)
Kimbal Musk (brother)
Lyndon Rive (cousin)
Elon Reeve Musk( born June 28, 1971) is a business magnate, industrial designer, and engineer. He is the founder, CEO, CTO, and chief designer of SpaceX; early investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink; and co-founder and initial co-chairman of OpenAI. A centibillionaire, Musk is one of the richest people in the world.
Musk was born to a Canadian mother and South African father and raised in Pretoria, South Africa. He briefly attended the University of Pretoria before moving to Canada aged 17 to attend Queen’s University. He transferred to the University of Pennsylvania two years later, where he received dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and physics.
He moved to California in 1995 to attend Stanford University but decided instead to pursue a business career, co-founding the web software company Zip2 with his brother Kimbal. The startup was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. Musk co-founded online bank X.com that same year, which merged with Confinity in 2000 to form the company PayPal and was subsequently bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion.
In 2002, Musk founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer, and space transport services company, of which he is CEO, CTO, and lead designer. In 2004, he joined electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors, Inc. (now Tesla, Inc.) as chairman and product architect, becoming its CEO in 2008. In 2006, he helped create SolarCity, a solar energy services company and current Tesla subsidiary.
In 2015, he co-founded OpenAI, a nonprofit research company that promotes friendly artificial intelligence. In 2016, he co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain-computer interfaces and founded The Boring Company, a tunnel construction company. Musk has also proposed the Hyperloop, a high-speed vactrain transportation system.
Musk has been the subject of criticism due to unorthodox or unscientific stances and highly publicized controversies. In 2018, he was sued for defamation by a diver who advised in the Tham Luang cave rescue; a California jury ruled in favor of Musk. Also, in 2018, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued him for falsely tweeting that he had secured funding for a private takeover of Tesla.
He settled with the SEC, temporarily stepping down from his chairmanship and accepting limitations on his Twitter usage. Musk has spread misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and has received criticism from experts for his other views on such matters as artificial intelligence and public transport.
Elon Reeve Musk was born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa. His mother is Maye Musk (née Haldeman), a model and dietitian born in Saskatchewan, Canada, but raised in South Africa. His father is Errol Musk, a South African electromechanical engineer, pilot, sailor, consultant, and property developer. Musk has a younger brother, Kimbal (born 1972), and a younger sister, Tosca (born 1974). His maternal grandfather, Joshua Haldeman, was an American-born Canadian. His paternal grandmother had British and Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry.
After his parents divorced in 1980, Musk lived mostly with his father in Pretoria and elsewhere, a choice he made two years after the divorce and subsequently regretted. Musk has become estranged from his father, whom he has described as “a terrible human being… Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done.” He has a half-sister and a half-brother on his father’s side.
At the age of 10, he developed an interest in computing while using the Commodore VIC-20. He learned computer programming using a manual and, by age 12, sold the code of a BASIC-based video game he created called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for approximately $500. An awkward and introverted child, Musk was bullied throughout his childhood and was once hospitalized after a group of boys threw him down a flight of stairs. He attended Waterkloof House Preparatory School and Bryanston High School before graduating from Pretoria Boys High School.
Musk has stated he graduated from college with $100,000 in student debt. Musk made his fortune with PayPal’s $1.5 billion sale to eBay in 2002. He was first listed on the Forbes Billionaires List in 2012, with a net worth of $2 billion.
At the start of 2020, Musk was the 35th richest person in the world. Throughout that year, his net worth increased by $150 billion, largely driven by his ownership of around 20% of Tesla stock. During this, Musk’s net worth was often volatile. For example, it dropped $16.3 billion in September, the largest such plunge according to Bloomberg. In November of that year, Musk passed Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to become the third-richest person in the world; a week later he passed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the second-richest. In January 2021, Musk, with a net worth of $185 billion, surpassed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the richest person in the world. Bezos reclaimed the top spot the following month.
Around three-quarters of Musk’s wealth derives from Tesla. Musk has tied his personal earnings to Tesla’s valuation and revenue. As he does not receive a salary, Musk agreed to a compensation plan with the board. It is an “at-risk performance award” that “ensures [Musk] will be compensated only if Tesla and all of its shareholders do extraordinarily well.” Created in 2018, the deal stipulated that Musk only receive the compensation if Tesla reached certain market values. It was the largest such deal ever done between a CEO and board. In the first award, given in May 2020, he was eligible to purchase 1.69 million TSLA shares – around one percent of the company – at below-market prices.
Musk has repeatedly described himself as “cash poor”. Most of his equity is in Tesla, SpaceX, and TBC, none of which pay dividends. According to Bloomberg, Musk has “professed to have little interest in the material trappings of wealth”. In 2012, Musk signed The Giving Pledge and, in May 2020, Musk pledged to “sell almost all physical possessions”.
Musk met his first wife, Canadian author Justine Wilson, while attending Queen’s University. They married in 2000 and separated in 2008. Their first son, Nevada Alexander Musk, died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) at the age of 10 weeks. They share custody of five sons.
In 2008, Musk began dating English actress Talulah Riley, and in 2010, the couple married. In 2012, Musk announced a divorce from Riley. In 2013, Musk and Riley remarried. In December 2014, Musk filed for a second divorce from Riley; however, the action was withdrawn. A second divorce was finalized in 2016. Musk then dated Amber Heard, whom he had reportedly been pursuing since 2012, for several months in 2017. Musk was later accused of having an affair with Heard while she was still married to Johnny Depp.
In May 2018, Musk and Canadian musician Grimes revealed that they were dating. Grimes gave birth to their son in May 2020. According to Musk and Grimes, his name was “X Æ A-12”; however, the name was deemed illegal under California law, because it contained characters that are not in the modern English alphabet, and was then changed to “X Æ A-Xii”. This drew more confusion, as Æ is not a letter in the modern English alphabet. The child was eventually named “X AE A-XII”, with “X” as a first name and “AE A-XII” as a middle name.
From the early 2000s until late 2020, Musk resided in the Los Angeles area of California where both Tesla and SpaceX were founded and where their headquarters are still located. As of December 2020, Musk resides in Texas.