Elon Musk has surpassed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to become the second richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The CEO of Tesla’s net worth is now around $128 billion, having increased by $100 billion this year. There’s a sizeable gap between Musk and the number one spot, currently held by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has a reported net worth of around $182 billion. In January, Musk ranked 35th on the list, Bloomberg reported.
For an idea of how these people’s wealth compares to the average American household, take a look at the stunning data visualization generated earlier this year, where each pixel represents $1,000.
Elon Musk’s rapid rise was mainly driven by Tesla’s share price. The car company currently has a market capitalization of nearly $500 billion, having started the year under $100 billion. The Guardian reports that Tesla has the highest market capitalization of any auto company in the world, despite producing a fraction of the cars from more established carmakers. This year it is expected to produce 500,000 cars, compared to around 10 million for a company like Toyota. About three-quarters of Musk’s net worth consists of Tesla shares, according to Bloomberg.
Elon Musk’s other major venture, SpaceX, has also had success recently. Last week the company successfully launched its second crew into space on its first operational mission. It follows the company’s first crewed flight to space in May this year.
Bill Gates sat at the top of the Billionaire Index for years until he was taken over by Jeff Bezos in 2017. Bloomberg notes that Gates would probably have had a higher net worth now if he hadn’t given so much money to charity, including more than $27 billion he has donated through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since 2006.
Bill Gates and Elon Musk had a clash this year. In September, Musk said Gates had “no clue” about the viability of electric trucks after Microsoft cofounders said that semi-electric trucks, along with electric cargo ships and passenger jets, “probably never” become practical. Gates earlier this year told CNBC that Musk should avoid making big predictions about areas he’s not familiar with after Tesla’s CEO downplayed the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elon Musk overtook Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week when he became the third richest person on the Billionaires Index. Zuckerberg has fallen to fifth after he was overtaken by French businessman Bernard Arnault.