Just like it’s the case with many other tech billionaires, Elon Musk’s net worth mostly fluctuates depending on the stock price of Tesla Motors. So, recently, when Tesla stock has skyrocketed, Musk’s net worth followed, raising roughly $21 billion to $24.6 billion. Namely, both soared after Musk’s apology to analysts after he had insulted them during a conference in May when he refused to answer their “boring, boneheaded” questions. His apology was called the “most valuable apology of all time.” And soon afterward, “the most valuable tweet ever” followed when Musk posted that he was “considering taking Tesla private at $420” per share.
What many don’t know is how Elon Musk has become an engineering genius and billionaire tech entrepreneur we know today. We are here to answer this question. Here’s his story, which began in South Africa.
Elon Musk Education and South African Upbringing
Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk grew up with a father who was a “serial entrepreneur” and he would sometimes go with him on business trips. However, he’s no longer in touch with his father, as he once called him a “terrible human being.”
Musk also once admitted that he suffered bullying during his early education. “I was also the youngest kid in my grade, so I was quite small,” Elon Musk said in a Q&A with TIME. “I was kind of a smart aleck. It was a recipe for disaster. I’d get called every name in the book and beaten up. That was my schooling experience.”
When he finished high school, he moved to Canada. “I left South Africa by myself, against my parents’ wishes,” Musk told the university’s alumni magazine. “I came to North America because I felt this was where there was opportunity to do great things in technology.”
Elon Musk Companies
Musk earned his first millions during the 1990s from Internet startups. However, his main interests were electric cars, solar energy, and space exploration. “They certainly were not picked because they had the highest return on investment,” Musk said in an interview. “I could probably make a lot more money from, say, starting another Internet company.”
Musk wanted to address those issues that could potentially bring social benefits, and Tesla Motors “builds not only all-electric vehicles but also infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products,” the company website states. “Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.”
Elon Musk Home
Musk lives in a 20,248-square-foot mansion that he paid $17 million in 2013, which has seven bedrooms, a private screening room, a tennis court, a pool, and, let’s not forget a view of the Bel Air Country Club.
Of course, being able to afford all that comes at a price. Musk himself once said: “I don’t have time to go home and shower,” which is why at some point, when Tesla was under pressure to produce more vehicles, he had to sleep on the car factory floor. Usually, he doesn’t get more than six hours of sleep per night, and he works from 80-100 hours per week.
And the previously mentioned mansion where he lives is not the only one he owns, of course – Musk has spent a total of $72 million on a string of five mansions and estates located in Bel Air neighborhood.
Giving Pledge and Donations
Elon Musk is among the world’s richest people who signed on to the Giving Pledge, the movement founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. He joined this group in 2012, but even before that, he had created the Musk Foundation, which is primarily known for providing aid, often in the form of solar power, in the wake of natural disasters. For instance, in 2011, it donated $250,000 to build a solar power system in Japan in an area devastated by a tsunami.
He once explained that his philanthropic motivations stem partly from his upbringing in South Africa, where he witnessed poverty and struggle. “If I could do something to alleviate it, I wanted to do that,” Musk said, according to Fortune.
Finally, he concluded saying: “There are problems not taken care by the government or the market. That’s probably the best use of my assets.”