How Did Elon Musk Make His Money?

The success of entrepreneur Elon Musk has inspired people around the world. With a net worth of approximately $23 billion, Musk is now considered one of the wealthiest individuals in the world. But how did he make his money? This article will explore this question by examining some of Musk’s major investments and business decisions over time.

Elon Musk was born in South Africa in 1971 to Canadian-American parents. He moved to Canada at age 17 before making his way to Silicon Valley where he met co-founders for startups such as Zip2 and PayPal. After selling these companies, he went on to become an investor in Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity and Hyperloop One. Additionally, he founded The Boring Company which aims at reducing traffic congestion with underground tunnels.

Musk’s strategic investments have placed him among the top 1% elite billionaires in the world but what sets him apart from other entrepreneurs are his commitment to long term goals such as colonizing Mars or creating sustainable energy sources through renewable energy sources like solar power. His innovative approach towards technology has changed our modern society and provided us with new opportunities for development and growth.


Early Life And Education

Elon Musk was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa. His mother, Maye Musk, is a model and dietitian originally from Canada. His father, Errol Musk, is an engineer who worked for the South African government. Elon attended private schools growing up and eventually earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a second bachelor’s degree in economics from Wharton School of Business. After college he moved to California with aspirations of working on new technologies.

Musk soon became involved with the internet revolution during its early stages, launching several companies including Zip2 Corporation which offered online city guide services and software solutions to traditional media outlets like The New York Times and Chicago Tribune. He then sold Zip2 and used the proceeds to found, an online payment system that later merged with Confinity and rebranded as PayPal when they launched their money transfer service. In 2002 eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5 billion dollars after only two years since its founding. This sale provided Elon with much of his initial wealth allowing him to pursue other projects such as SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, Hyperloop Technologies and OpenAI among others.


Founding Of Zip2 Corporation

After completing his studies, Elon Musk founded Zip2 Corporation with his brother Kimbal in 1995. The company developed and marketed an internet city guide for the newspaper publishing industry. Initially funded by a $28000 loan from their father, Zip2 was soon supported by angel investors including Peter Thiel. It became one of the first successful online content companies to be acquired: Compaq paid over 300 million dollars for it in 1999.

The major highlights of this acquisition are as follows:

  • Zip2 provided maps and directions, yellow pages listings and other information related to businesses around a user’s location
  • It operated multiple versions of websites such as and
  • Compaq used the technology that Zip2 developed to build its own ecommerce platform called AltaVista Shopping
  • Musk made $22million from the sale of Zip2 Corporation

By selling his share of the business, Musk had enough capital to move onto bigger projects – most notably (later PayPal). He also co-founded SpaceX with the intention of developing rockets capable of transporting people between planets – a goal which has been achieved several times since then


X.Com And Paypal Merger and PayPal were two separate companies that merged in 2001, forming what is now known as PayPal Holdings Inc. was a financial services company founded by Elon Musk in 1999 with the primary goal of providing free online banking to customers. The company ran into difficulty due to competition from other established banks, which had already secured customer bases, and subsequently began offering money transfer services instead. Meanwhile, PayPal had been operating since 1998 as an online payments system for individuals and small businesses.

Its user base increased quickly over time, leading to its acquisition by eBay shortly before the merger with took place.
The combined entity became one of the most successful payment processing systems in history and was eventually spun off into a separate publically traded company on July 18th 2002. Through his ownership stake in the newly formed company, Elon Musk made millions when it went public and also earned further shares through various bonuses he received during his tenure as CEO prior to leaving the firm in October 2000.


Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (Spacex)

The success of the and PayPal merger provided Elon Musk with substantial funds to launch his next venture, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX). Founded in 2002, SpaceX was a private aerospace manufacturer that aimed to reduce the cost of space transportation by developing reusable rockets. The company’s Falcon 1 became the first privately-developed liquid fuel rocket to reach Earth orbit in September 2008.

Since then, SpaceX has gone on to become one of the most successful companies in space exploration and travel. It is currently working towards fully reusable rockets and spacecraft, as well as human missions to Mars. Through its achievements, SpaceX has gained greater recognition for Musk’s vision and ambition, which have been instrumental in making him one of today’s leading entrepreneurs.


Tesla Motors

Elon Musk has made his money primarily through investments in the electric car company Tesla Motors. After selling his web software companies, Zip2 and, Musk was able to invest a large amount of money into Tesla Motors. The company’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy by creating affordable electric vehicles for consumers. It aims to make electric cars more accessible, reliable, and safer than traditional petrol-powered cars. By investing in this company early on, Musk was able to recoup much of his investment when the company went public in 2010.

Tesla Motors has been highly successful since its launch, becoming one of the most valuable automotive companies in history with a market capitalization of over $400 billion at its peak in 2020. Its success is largely due to increasing consumer demand for eco-friendly transportation solutions as well as government subsidies that have helped reduce costs associated with purchasing an electric vehicle. Furthermore, Tesla’s self-driving technology has allowed them to differentiate their products from competitors and become industry leaders in autonomous driving systems. As a result of these factors, Elon Musk has seen significant returns on his investment into Tesla Motors which have greatly contributed to his current net worth.


Solarcity And Other Ventures

Elon Musk has had multiple successful business ventures, and SolarCity is one of the most influential. Founded in 2006 by two of Elon’s cousins—Lyndon Rive and Peter Rive—SolarCity was created to provide solar energy systems for businesses, government organizations, and homeowners across America. Since its launch, it has become a leading provider of clean energy solutions with thousands of customers nationwide.

Income  Opportunities 
High-paying job  Investing resources into innovative projects
Stock options Utilizing existing technology to create new products and services 
Real estate investments Developing intellectual property that can be sold or licensed out to companies around the world

Initially funded through Tesla Motors (a global electric vehicle manufacturer founded by Elon), SolarCity grew rapidly throughout the 2010s as more people became aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint while also saving money on electricity bills. In 2016, Elon took control over SolarCity when Tesla acquired it from Lyndon and Peter Rive for $2.6 billion USD. By combining Tesla’s battery production capabilities with SolarCity’s panel installation expertise, they have effectively revolutionized renewable energy storage and delivery systems for many countries around the world.

Overall, Elon Musk has been able to make his money through various income sources such as high-paying jobs, stock options, real estate investments and utilizing opportunities like investing resources into innovative projects; utilizing existing technology to create new products and services; developing intellectual property that can be sold or licensed out to companies around the world; etc. All these efforts ultimately contributed towards increasing his wealth significantly in an ethical way allowing him freedom to pursue other cutting edge inventions today.



As a result of these efforts, Musk’s net worth is estimated at nearly $20 billion USD. This makes him one of the richest people on earth; however it should not take away from his dedication or sheer will power which enabled him to achieve this level of success. Despite having faced personal challenges during his career journey he persevered towards building up several multi-billion dollar businesses throughout the years.

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