How Elon Musk Makes and Spends His Money: Elon Musk's Net Worth

At a net worth approaching $300 billion dollars, Elon Musk is the richest man - and in fact the richest person - on Earth.  Musk has taken a journey all the way from online banking to space travel, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Musk's net worth naturally begs the question: how did Elon Musk attain his wealth, and how does he use his vast resources now? 

Mainstream media sources are determined to convince us that billionaires attained their success through inheritance or exploitation, and afterwards do nothing of value with their wealth. 

The narrative is that the ultra-rich, like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Blue Origin, and our man Elon Musk, sit on hoards of cash like dragons: we are to believe that they should be slain and looted for the good of all citizens.  Elon Musk’s ongoing accomplishments are a powerful refutation to the “lazy rich man” story.

Musk's wealth, today, comes largely in the form of Tesla stock, but it wasn't always like that.

Musk’s rise to success is usually associated with PayPal, but he started his tech career with a product called “Zip2” which he and his partners marketed to online newspapers.  The program allowed publishers to easily create online directories for their content, with a particular focus on local city-guides. 

Musk, having been born in South Africa and living in expensive California, was not living lavishly at the time— he coded for the project seven days a week, and rented office space to live in, as it was cheaper than an apartment.  His efforts paid off when the company was purchased by Compaq in February of 1999, and Musk received a whopping $22 million for his shares.

SpaceX rocket going into space
“Elon Musk’s SpaceX has done more with $11 billion in the last 8 years than NASA has with $360 billion in the same amount of time.”

Not one to rest on his laurels, his next project was a foray into online banking with, for which Musk was a co-founder. rapidly expanded to over 200,000 customers, and eventually merged with a similar company, Cofinity, which was the originator of PayPal.  PayPal is a service we take for granted in our online world, but in the early days of the internet, such convenience and accessibility was unheard of. 

The effect of PayPal was to enable digital commerce on a massive scale.  When PayPal was sold to eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, Musk walked away with a neat 100 million dollars in stock.  Flushed with success in the digital world, his next step was obvious: space travel.

Musk founded his company SpaceX in 2002, and their accomplishments since then have been historic for a private company.  SpaceX, now far outpacing the likes of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and even NASA in terms of space influence, has been launching rockets successfully since 2008, but their goals go well beyond rocketry. 

Their project, “StarLink” is on track to deliver high-speed internet anywhere on earth!  The implications are nothing short of revolutionary.  Most people would find their time more than occupied by space shuttles and satellite technology, but Musk is an obsessive innovator.

Over two decades he has worked his way into the auto industry through the electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Motors.  Whether you believe electric cars are the future or not, Tesla has contributed massive infrastructure and advances to battery and electric motor technology. 

This blog post was actually written using solar electricity stored in a lithium-ion battery. 

I’m willing to bet that without Tesla’s research and development, those batteries would not be anywhere near as economical as they are today.  As the technology improves, off-grid and solar power will become more viable for more consumers. 

This will permanently alter the energy market to be greener.  Speaking of solar power, Musk also put his finances behind SolarCity in 2006, a firm that finances and installs solar panels for homeowners.

This a good place to address the elephant in the room: in pro-free-market circles, Elon Musk sometimes catches flak for his businesses’ reliance on government contracts and “green” subsidies to remain viable.

Red Tesla Vehicle
“The Tesla Roadster will accelerate from standing still to 60 mph in 1.1 seconds, faster than any other road car ever, without producing a single molecule of CO2.”

Admittedly, he does receive some subsidies.  But when we consider the true scale of his enterprises in comparison to the funds he receives, the issue becomes a non-starter.  Using Tesla as an example, we must acknowledge that virtually every aspect of the auto industry is firmly under the boot of government overreach. 

Traditional car makers like Ford have worked with bureaucrats to ensure that the regulatory environment chokes out new ideas and any true competition. Not to mention the massive subsidies and geopolitical forces that back our currently oil-reliant economy.  Musk is a political realist and realizes that it is better to “play the game” than to accept the government-enforced status quo.  Most of his “subsidies” are actually in the form of tax-credits. 

In other words, money that he earned legitimately, and then successfully protected from the greedy hands of the IRS.

With that money, Musk has continued to invest in even more innovation.  In 2016 he co-founded Neuralink: a company dedicated to the development of technology that directly interfaces with the human brain. 

Their products may eventually provide huge benefits to people with disabilities, and not just through prosthetics.  Musk has stated that they may someday be able to repair blindness or deafness with their work!  This is what money can do in the hands of entrepreneurs who are dedicated to providing value.

Look around.  Do you see anyone else volunteering to take us into the future?  Our government spent 7.3 trillion dollars in 2019, all of it taken directly or indirectly out of the hands of American citizens. 

What did the U.S. government invent in 2019?  What new technologies did they develop?  The answer, of course, is nothing.  In fact, new ideas are actively suppressed by the bureaucrats addicted to the status quo, and the money that flows from it.

In a truly capitalist system, free from coercion, the capital that you accumulate is a result of the value that you have provided to someone else.  Otherwise, people wouldn’t be handing you money!  If someone can provide so much value that they become truly wealthy, we should be thrilled that someone with a proven track record will continue to allocate resources to solving even more problems. 

Obviously, we do not live in such a pure society, but Elon Musk has continued to model the true potential of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Our nation and culture must continue to empower innovators and problem-solvers like him.