Photo Courtesy Austin Ramsey and UnSplash

With a net worth of over $225 Billion, Elon Musk is, by and far, the richest man on the planet. This is the result of several business ventures over his lifetime, some failed and other going on to be worth millions to billions. In this article, we will be discussing how Elon Made his billions and became the richest person in the world.

How did Elon Musk make his billions?

Before we discuss how Musk became a billionaire, we have to start with who Elon Musk was before he became a billionaire and how he got started.

Musk was a bookworm as a child. At the early age of ten, with a Commodore Vic 20, he became interested in computers and was able to teach himself computer programming. At 12 years old, he produced and sold a video game called Blastar to PC and Office Technology magazine for $500 (About $1,500 today).

His early reading included Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, which he says taught him that you should endeavor to do the acts that will extend civilization, lower the possibility of a dark age, and shorten the duration of any dark era if there is one.

In 1992, he finished his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and went back for a second bachelors where he studied business and physics.


In 1995, Musk and his brother Kimball founded Zip2, a web software startup,  with money collected from a small number of investors. The website took off fast and Musk landed deals with the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as convincing the board of directors to abandon plans for a merger with Zip2’s main competitor, City Search.

In February 1999, the board decided to sell Zip2 for $307 million in cash and $34 million in stock options. Musk earned $22 million for his 7% stake in the company. Despite the large amount of money he earned in this deal, Musk still refers to this as a failure on his part.


In March 1999, with $10 million from the sale of Zip2, Musk co-founded, an online financial service, and email payment firm.  The firm soon merged with Confinity, which operated a money-transfer service named PAYPAL, a year later. In 2001, the merged firm was renamed PayPal and concentrated on the PayPal service. PayPal’s early success was largely due to a viral marketing approach in which new clients were recruited when they used the service to receive money.

PayPal was bought by eBay in October 2002 for $1.5 billion, of which Musk received a whopping $165 million. With 11.7 percent of PayPal’s shares, Musk was the company’s largest stakeholder before its sale.

Around this time, Musk also met with Russian designers and was promised an 8 million dollar rocket. Musk, on the other hand, considered this to be too costly and stormed out of the meeting as a result. On the way back from Moscow, he realized he might start a business to produce the low-cost rockets he needed.


Musk eventually established Space X with the long-term ambition of establishing a real spacefaring civilization. He launched Space X, in May 2002 with a $100 million investment from his early income. 

Space X created the Falcon launch vehicle family and the Dragon multipurpose spacecraft in only seven years after founding. The company’s first launch vehicles were the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 rockets, a nod to the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, and its first spacecraft was named the Dragon, a nod to Puff the Magic Dragon. 

Space X’s Falcon 1 rocket became the first privately sponsored spacecraft to launch a satellite into orbit in September 2008.


His association with Tesla Motors began in 2003.

Tesla Motors was founded in July 2003 by two entrepreneurs who funded the business until the next round of investment money came in.

Before Elon Musk’s engagement, the sequence of investments had been conducted by Musk from February 2004. Musk took an active role within Tesla and monitored the Roadster product design at a deep level after joining the board of directors as chairman.

And after a series of increasing confrontations and following the financial crisis in 2007, the original creator of Tesla was expelled from the company, as of 2008, Elon Musk became the CEO of Tesla. Tesla Motors initially created an electric sports vehicle after Musk gained control of the firm as CEO and product architect. The Tesla Roadster in 2008 had sales of about 2,500 vehicles to 31 countries. 

Solar City

In 2006, SolarCity was founded.

Musk supplied the initial concept and financial support for SolarCity, which he and his cousins Lyndon and Peter co-founded in 2006. SolarCity had grown to become the second-biggest provider of solar-powered systems in the United States by 2013.

Tesla purchased SolarCity in 2016 and it is now a completely owned subsidiary of Tesla.

Recent Business Ventures

On August 12, 2013, Musk released a proposal for a high-speed transportation system that includes reduced-pressure tubes in which pressurized capsules are positioned directly on an air cushion and are powered by linear induction motors and an air compressor.

In June 2015, Musk launched a design competition for students and others to develop Hyperloop pods that would run on a mile-long track sponsored by SpaceX from 2015 to 2017.

The track was first utilized in July of 2017, and work on a tunnel has begun.

In 2014, Musk declared that Tesla will enable anybody in good faith to use its technology patents to encourage automakers to accelerate the development of electric vehicles.

In June 2014, Musk stated that he will develop a solar city advanced production facility near Buffalo, New York, that would triple the scale of the country’s largest solar plant.

According to Elon Musk, the factory will be one of the world’s largest solar panel manufacturing facilities. In the next few years, it will be followed by one or more, even larger facilities. The factory’s construction began in 2014 and was finished in 2017.

In 2015, the reusability of a Space X rocket was announced. Elon Musk believes that making rockets reusable is the key to making space travel cheaper.

Reusable rockets were thought to be impossible or impractical by the majority of professionals in the space business. Space X successfully landed the first stage of their Falcon rocket back on the launch pad on December 22, 2015. This was the first time an orbital rocket had accomplished such a feat, and it is a big step toward rocket reusability, which would cut the cost of access to space.

In 2016, the first stage of recovery was repeated numerous times by landing on a self-driving spaceport drone ship. By the end of 2017, SpaceX has landed and recovered the first stage on 16 consecutive flights when a landing and recovery were attempted using an ocean-based recovery platform.

On February 6th, 2018 SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon Heavy, the 4th largest capacity rocker ever built. After the Saturn V, Energia, and N1 rockets, it is the most powerful rocket in use as of 2018. Meanwhile,  the first mission carried a Tesla Roadster owned by Elon.

In January of 2019, he paid a visit to China. Musk flew to China for the launching of Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory, the company’s first large-scale facility outside of the United States. During the meeting, Musk declared his love for China and expressed his desire to visit China more frequently.

As of now, Elon Musk—the world’s richest person with an estimated net worth of more than $225 billion owned roughly 48% of SpaceX before its latest funding round.

Last year in 2021, Elon Musk raked in about $22 billion in stock sales, option exercises, tax payment sales, and donated shares.

Despite selling so many Tesla shares, according to his remuneration structure, he still holds a larger share of the firm than when he started. He owns 172.6 million Tesla shares, or a 17% stake, which makes him its single largest individual shareholder.


As you can see, Elon Musk has had a long road leading to where he is now. We only discussed his more successful business ventures, but it goes even deeper than we could get in to here. From Zip2 and all the way to SpaceX and Tesla, Musk has left his mark on the business, innovation, and the world.

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