There are the rich and there’s Elon Musk

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022 00:44 | By
Elon Musk. PHOTO/Courtesy

At a time when Kenya’s government is struggling to raise an Sh846 billion deficit for its ambitious Sh3.3 trillion budget, South Africa born US-based billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk who tops the list of the richest men on earth can actually pay that and go-ahead to fund the entire budget for ten straight years, thanks to his Sh30 trillion net worth.

A report in CEOworld Magazine ranks Musk head and shoulder above the rest with a net worth of $268 billion.

To put this in perspective Musk is 337 times wealthier than the richest person in Kenya which is the late Naushad Merali Family with an estimated Sh89 billion. The Merali Family is followed by the Bimjhi Shah family worth Sh80 billion with the Kenyatta Family coming in at position four with Sh60 billion worth of assets.

As of 5 May 2022, Musk became the wealthiest person in the world, followed by Jeff Bezos ($150 billion), Bernard Arnault ($132 billion) and Bill Gates ($127 billion).

To top the list, Musk overtook Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who was then the richest man in the world and is currently worth Sh17 trillion. He also unseated Bill Gates currently worth Sh12.9 trillion. Others he overtook are Warren Buffet (Sh11.8tn), Google co-founder Larry Page (Sh11.1tn), Oracle co-founder and one of Elon’s best friends Larry Elison worth Sh10.1 trillion.

Billionaires club 

Warren Buffett is the fifth-richest person globally, with $119 billion. Indian Gautam Adani is ranked 6th with a personal wealth of $118 billion, followed by Larry Page with $110 billion. Sergey Brin is placed 8th with a net worth of $106 billion. Steve Ballmer($102 billion) occupied the 9th position on the top 10 richest people in the world list, followed by Mukesh Ambani($100 billion).

Time named Musk as the 2021 Person of the Year. Time gives the title to the person it sees as having the most influence during the past year. Musk is the CEO of the aerospace company SpaceX and the electronic car company named Tesla.

It has, however, not been all rosy for Musk. In 2017, when Tesla was experiencing difficulties meeting customer orders, things got so serious that its CEO approached Apple hoping they would buy the company, but Apple rejected the offer.

“During the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting,” he tweeted.

This was one of the multiple times the company had survived death having overcome previous fundraising hiccups. The rejection forced him to go back and fix the company’s problems and ramp up production.  At this time Elon was worth Sh2 trillion ($20bn) and number 12 on Forbes ranking of the world’s richest people.

Four years later, he has become the envy of all entrepreneurs, be it in Nairobi or Silicon Valley by emerging top of the list.

Musk’s 21 per cent stake in the company has soared along with the company’s stock after the company dealt with its production problems pushing up the fortune of the entrepreneur who also co-founded PayPal, a global fintech leader and space exploration superpower SpaceX. He is now the new owner of Twitter.

When the 2020 pandemic was cutting short the list of the World’s richest people Elon Musk’s wealth was rising too fast which saw him rise from position 12 to number 1 briefly in November 2020 and then eventually regained the top spot in 2021 to date with a total net worth of Sh30 trillion as of yesterday.

The father of six and three times divorcee, who fled the South African Apatheid system and worked in dirty jobs in Canada living with his uncles before crossing over to the United States, is 21 times wealthier than Africa’s wealthiest man Aliko Dangote who is worth Sh1.4 trillion and nearly 30 times worth more than South Africa’s Johan Rupert who is worth Sh1.1 trillion.

His authorised biographer and Bloomberg reporter Ashley Vance says Musk’s success may have something to do with his difficult childhood given that successful entrepreneurs are known to endure prolonged periods of pain. 

Elon says he was mistreated by his father and was bullied and physically attacked in school many times. He endured a childhood divorce of his parents too despite being privileged with an engineer and a mining millionaire for a father and a model for a mother.

Difficult father

“Whenever the topic of Errol, Elon’s father arrives, members of Elon’s family clam up. They’re in agreement that he is not a pleasant man to be around but have declined to elaborate,” writes Vance.

But Tesla is not the only source of wealth for the 50-year old. Apart from being an electric car pioneer, he is also leading the human race into space colonisation saying his life’s mission is to help humanity become a space faring civilisation.

Elon is also leading the world in launching satellites for remote internet services helping people anywhere in the world access the internet.

His company Tesla is also producing utility-scale batteries for storage of power for use during blackouts in cities globally to tackle blackouts.

It is said that Elon could become the world’s first dollar trillionaire given that all his companies are still very young.

—John Otini and Agencies

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