Elon Musk, now the richest man in the world

Tesla fueled that fortune: Electric cars are all the rage. Investors convinced that they represent the future of the automobile continue to increase the group’s title, by more than 700% in 2020, by nearly 15% since the start of 2021 in just four sessions on Wall Street. They also salute the tenacity of the entrepreneur of South African origin, who has often set goals that many observers consider unrealistic, and has kept them. Mr. Musk, 49, is in any case making the most of it since he owns 18% of Tesla, which he co-founded in 2003.

With a fortune estimated at more than $ 180 billion, he passed Thursday in front of Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon, in the ranking of billionaires held by Bloomberg. To achieve his ends, this hard worker does not hesitate to jostle his teams and set the tone himself by staying for example sleeping in his Californian factory when it was struggling to increase the pace in 2018. Always wishing to go more quickly, he regularly criticizes red tape. He again engaged in a bitter struggle last spring with the California authorities when they decided to temporarily close the production site in the face of the spread of Covid-19. He now spends a lot of time in Texas to be closer to the projects that occupy most of his time: the construction of a new Tesla factory and the launch of rockets by his space company SpaceX. Mr. Musk aims to send his ships to the Moon and then to conquer Mars.

This entrepreneurial repeat offender is also the boss of Neuralink, a start-up which aims to directly and intimately connect the human brain to the computer, and of Boring Company, which works on tunnels supposed to revolutionize urban transport. Its many activities do not prevent it from regularly triggering controversy, especially with shattering statements on Twitter. He had a lot of trouble with the US Stock Exchange Constable, the SEC, who accused him of deceiving investors when he tweeted about a possible withdrawal from the Tesla Stock Exchange, and forced him to abandon the post of chairman of the board of directors.

The leader also regularly mocks speculators who bet on the Tesla debacle on the stock market. He also did not hesitate in 2018 to send to graze a financial analyst who asked him about Tesla’s profit margins after a disappointing performance, answering dryly: “These questions piss me off.” Resistant to established institutions, he is also wary of the media: Tesla recently abolished the service supposed to answer journalists’ questions and Mr. Musk regularly bemoans their supposed lack of technical knowledge.

He does sometimes let himself go: in 2018, during a crazy two-hour interview broadcast live on the internet, we see him drinking whiskey, wielding a samurai sword or smoking cannabis (which is legal in California) while evoking the conquest of space, the end of the world or … the libido of the bonobo monkeys.

If his erratic behavior has occasionally irritated Wall Street, he can take pride in the success of his businesses. Long in deficit, Tesla has managed to make money over the past five quarters, which opened the doors to the prestigious S&P 500 stock index in December. After leaving his native country, Elon Musk, who also has American and Canadian nationality, was educated in Ontario (Canada) and then in the United States.

At under 25, he created Zip2, an online software company, and became a millionaire before his 30th birthday by selling it to computer manufacturer Compaq in 1999. The young entrepreneur then founded X.com, which was to be merged with PayPal. , then bought by eBay in 2002. It will launch in the wake of SpaceX and Tesla.

Three times divorced, Mr. Musk is the father of seven children, one of whom died at 10 weeks. Known for his eccentricities in both his professional and private life, he gave the last one, which he had with singer Grimes in May 2020, the first name “X Æ A-12”.

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