Tesla stock hit an all-time high of $321 billion on Monday, in further good news for the bank account of owner Elon Musk just days after it was revealed he is now richer than investor Warren Buffett.
Shares in Tesla shot up by as much as 14 per cent, and briefly made the motor company the 10th largest US stock by market value, ahead of Procter & Gamble.
But the gains were erased during a period of volatility and the company’s share were down more than 3 per cent after market’s closed.
The latest record-setting increase came as speculation rose that with Tesla’s continued increase in market value, the company will soon join the S&P 500.
Musk, the highly eccentric Silicon Valley tycoon who brought the world PayPal and SpaceX, saw his net worth soar past Buffett on Friday to become the seventh richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Elon Musk is now richer than investor Warren Buffett, thanks to a record rise in the price of Tesla stock that briefly shot up as much as 14 per cent to raise the company’s valuation up to $321 billion on Monday
The gains were erased during a period of volatility. The gains were erased during a period of volatility, and shares were down more than 3 per cent after market’s closed
Musk’s fortune rose by $6.07 billion on Friday, Bloomberg News said, following a 10.8 per cent jump in the electric carmaker’s stock.
Buffett’s net worth dropped last week when he donated $2.9 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to charity.
Meanwhile, Tesla’s shares have surged 500 per cent over the past year as the company increased sales of its Model 3 sedan.
The company is already the highest-valued automaker after its market capitalization overtook that of former front-runner Toyota Motors.
Musk’s fortune rose by $6.07 billion on Friday, Bloomberg reported, following a 10.8 per cent jump in the electric carmaker’s stock. Buffett’s net worth dropped earlier this week when he donated $2.9 billion in Berkshire Hathaway stock to charity
The blistering rally also puts Musk in reach of a stock payday potentially worth $1.8 billion, his second jackpot from the electric car maker in about two months.
Under his contract, Musk does not get a salary from Tesla, but gets bumper stock option payouts if the company reaches a series of targets – which the automaker has consistently hit.
Stock in Tesla is up about 38% since the close on July 1, a day before the company reported its quarterly delivery numbers.
Tesla’s solid delivery numbers heightened expectations of a profitable second quarter, which would mark the first time in its history that it would report four consecutive quarters of profit.
Tesla’s solid delivery numbers heightened expectations of a profitable second quarter, which would mark the first time in its history that it would report four consecutive quarters of profit. Pictured is the EV maker’s Mode 3 sedan
Musk last week said the company is ‘very close’ to achieving complete autonomous driving technology, referring to the capability to navigate roads without any driver input.
‘I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,’ Musk said in remarks made via a video message at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference Thursday.
‘I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.’
Tesla is also developing new heat-projection or cooling systems to enable more advanced computers in cars, Musk said.
The EV company, along with other automakers and tech companies, including Alphabet-owned Waymo and app-based ride share company Uber, are investing billions in the autonomous driving industry.
Tesla, along with other automakers and tech companies, including Alphabet-owned Waymo and app-based ride share company Uber, are investing billions in the autonomous driving industry. Pictured is Tesla’s manufacturing plant in Fremont, California earlier this year
However industry insiders have said it would take time for the technology to get ready and public to trust autonomous vehicles fully.
The California-based Tesla currently builds cars with an Autopilot driver-assistance system, which still requires some human input.
As investors keep close watch on Tesla’s meteoric rise, Musk, 49, has been working to make the startup EV maker a success alongside his other pursuits.
For example, he fought with local officials about reopening the company’s manufacturing plants in California and China — after they were closed down due to coronavirus safety precautions.
He has also been focusing on at his SpaceX aerospace company.
Musk, through SpaceX, became committed to restoring trips to space launched from the US after the retirement of its space shuttle fleet.
After Musk invested $37 billion of his fortune, Space X eventually ferried two American astronauts to the International Space Station on May 30.
Musk, through SpaceX, became committed to restoring trips to space launched from the US after the retirement of its space shuttle fleet. He is pictured celebrating after a SpaceX launch on May 30 ferried two Americans to the International Space Station May 30
Musk launched the firm in the early 2000s, announcing that he intends, within a few decades, not only to have put an astronaut on Mars, but also to be taking the first steps to establish a human colony there, thus ensuring mankind’s future, should Earth one day become uninhabitable.
He declared himself ‘overcome with emotion’, after he managed to silence those who doubted he could pull all of his plans off.
So who is this eccentric carmaker and rocket man?
A troubled childhood
Nicknamed ‘genius boy’, Elon Musk purportedly read the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica in early childhood and learned to ‘code’ at the age of ten, within days of acquiring a computer. By 12, he’d created and sold his first tech product, a video game called Blastar, for less than $1,000.
It was not, however, a happy childhood. Musk was born in apartheid-era South Africa, one of three children of engineer Errol Musk and his author wife, Maye. His parents divorced when he was eight.
At school, he was badly bullied, while at home things were barely better. Errol, from whom he’s been estranged for years, was a strict disciplinarian allegedly fond of corporal punishment. In 2018, it emerged that Errol had a fathered child with his stepdaughter Jana. Musk told Rolling Stone magazine that Errol is ‘a terrible human being’.
Off to AMERICA…
By the age of 17, Musk was desperate to escape South Africa and his overbearing dad, so he decided to head for Canada, where his mother Maye had grown up.
He arrived without a penny to his name, relying on the generosity of relatives for accommodation and living for weeks at a time off economy-size bags of hot dogs.
Eventually, he won a place at the University of Pennsylvania to study Economics and Physics. After graduating, Musk headed west, to Silicon Valley, where in 1995 he was accepted onto a PhD course at Stanford University.
However, he dropped out during his first week to start a business called Zip2, which developed software for media companies.
The timing could not have been better: Zip2 rode the internet boom and was sold in 1999 for an astonishing $341 million, netting Musk a $22 million cut. But that was just the start of his successes.
Musk proceeded to join the ranks of the global super-rich via his next bet: an online bank called X.com, which developed PayPal.
The company was eventually sold to eBay in 2002, earning him roughly $180 million —after tax.
The cash allowed him to dream big. That year he founded SpaceX, announcing that his end goal was to build a ‘BFR’ — or ‘Big F*****g Rocket’ — to help mankind colonise Mars before over-population renders Earth uninhabitable.
In 2003 and 2004, Musk also made timely bets on the alternative energy sector, founding a company called SolarCity, which is now America’s largest installer of solar panels, and Tesla, the luxury electric car firm, which has revolutionised the motor industry.
His logic was that helping to wean the world off oil would buy us extra time to address global warming, should the colonization of Mars take longer than expected.
Tangled love life
Wealth and success appear to have made the once geeky Musk very attractive to women as well. But the entrepreneur is a proud and unapologetic workaholic who famously boasted ‘nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week’.
His first wife, Justine Wilson, a fantasy novelist whom he’d met while attending Stanford, grew tired of spending all day at home with their five sons — a set of twins and triplets.
She announced around the time of their 2008 divorce: ‘Elon’s central relationship is with his work.’
Within weeks, Musk had moved on to the British actress Talulah Riley, whom he married, then divorced in 2012, remarried in 2013, but then divorced for a second time in 2015.
After a year-long dalliance with Johnny Depp’s ex, Hollywood actress Amber Heard, Musk began stepping out with Canadian indie musician Grimes.
Their son, who was born in May, made headlines after the couple attempted, for reasons best known to themselves, to register his name as ‘X Æ A-12’ (pronounced ‘Ex ash A twelve’). California authorities refused to play ball, on the grounds that it’s illegal to use numbers in a name, so the couple had to eventually make do with ‘X Æ A-Xii’.
In a recent interview, Grimes, whose real name is Claire Boucher, told Bloomberg that around the house, the baby is actually known as ‘Little X’.
Digging a hole…
Stuck in a traffic jam just before Christmas 2016, Musk took to Twitter to declare ‘I am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging’, to create an alternative transport network deep underground in his home city of Los Angeles.
He duly launched The Boring Company, a firm designed to pursue that very aim.
Two years later, in June 2018, Musk decided that it could help save a dozen members of a youth football team trapped a vast cave complex in northern Thailand.
Musk arrived at the scene with a child-sized submarine, which he claimed would be able to act as a sort of escape pod.
However, experts were skeptical, with one rescue diver, a British national called Vernon Unsworth, telling CNN that the whole thing was a PR stunt and that the South African could ‘stick his submarine where it hurts’.
Musk responded via Twitter, branding Unsworth, who has a younger Thai partner, ‘pedo guy’.
The Briton responded by suing for defamation in California, seeking $190 million. In court, Musk apologized for the slur but alleged that he did not mean to suggest that Unsworth had actually molested a child.
The jury agreed, leading Musk to declare: ‘My faith in humanity is restored!’
Drink and drugs
With all of his business interests and eccentric lifestyle, Musk also had had his moments with drinking and partaking in marijuana smoking.
He drew attention in September 2018, when he appeared dishevelled-looking on a podcast and proceeded to drink whisky and smoke a large marijuana cigarette, while discussing his life and times.
Film of the appearance, in which the puce-faced tech tycoon coughed and spluttered his way through a haze of cannabis smoke, rapidly went viral, prompting Nasa to launch an urgent investigation into SpaceX’s ‘adherence to a drug-free environment’. The Pentagon also decided to review his Federal security clearance.
Chastened, Musk shoehorned himself into a suit and tie for a more formal TV interview. ‘I do not smoke pot,’ he said. ‘As anyone who has watched that podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot.’
And much like President Donald Trump, Musk is a compulsive user of Twitter, posting endlessly on the site, often at odd hours of the day and night.
This does not always dovetail well with his role as boss of Tesla.
Around the same time as the pot-smoking controversy, he suddenly used the social network to announce that he had ‘funding secured’ to take his car company Tesla private at $420 a share.
The message may have been intended as a joke (‘420’ is slang for marijuana), but regulators did not see the funny side since Tesla shares were then trading at 20 per cent less than the supposed price.
An investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission ended with Musk charged with securities fraud.
In a settlement reached in late 2018, he agreed to step down as Tesla chairman for three years, pay a $20 million fine, and grant a company lawyer oversight of future tweets.
But the slap on the wrist didn’t seem to stop him.
On May 1 this year he sent stocks of his electric car company into a freefall after he went on a bizarre Twitter rant.
Musk announced that he felt the company’s stock price was ‘too high’, before revealing he was planning to sell off his physical possessions.
He then tweeted the words to the national anthem.
The market was quick to react to the 11.am tweet rant, and Tesla shares began a precipitous nosedive, falling more than 11 per cent by that afternoon.
‘Tesla stock price is too high imo,’ Musk tweeted at around 11:11am Eastern Time on May 1
Musk also tweeted: ‘I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house’
Musk appears to be following through on his plan to sell off his property.
During the May 1 rant, he wrote: ‘I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house’.
And just days later he put two of his Bel Air homes on the market for $39.5M.
On May 4, Musk listed his lower Bel Air estate that overlooks the Bel Air Country Club.
The residence, which was purchased by Musk in 2012 for $17million, was listed for $30million on Zillow.
The second home was listed for $9.5million and used to be owned by late Willy Wonka actor, Gene Wilder, who died in 2016.
But Musk insisted on Twitter: ‘Just one stipulation on sale: I own Gene Wilder’s old house. It cannot be torn down or lose any its soul.’
Two weeks later, Musk listed another five homes for sale for a combined $97.5million.
In one listing, four of his Los Angeles homes are being sold together for $62.5million, while his Hillsborough, California, mansion is up for a whopping $35million.