From the Viewsroom

Elon Musk — in a league of one

Paran Balakrishnan | Updated on January 28, 2021

None can match the sheer scale of his imaginative genius

Elon Musk is now the world’s wealthiest man with a $209-billion fortune, according to Bloomberg, having surpassed Amazon’s Jeff Bezos who is in second spot with $186 billion. And even if the Tesla chief gets knocked from his top perch by Bezos or Bill Gates, there is no question he is a tech genius, or, to put it another way, the Thomas Edison of our era.

What about Gates and his Windows into a new world? Or, Steve Jobs, who invented the iPhone, the iPod and the Mac? I hear you cry. Musk wins hands down, thanks to the volume of companies he’s transformed into billion-dollar ventures spanning an astonishing range of industries. This tech Renaissance man hit millionaire status in his 20s by selling Zip2, a city map-and-guide company, picking up $22 million. Next, he pocketed $165 million by selling online financial services company PayPal to eBay.

By then, though, his attention was on futuristic inventions like Tesla, the desirable personal car that’s beaten everything auto companies have produced. SpaceX was started with the goal of reaching Mars. He signed deals to deliver crews to the International Space Station on his giant Falcon 18. Now, he plans to offer high-speed Internet services to the world’s remotest corners with low-earth orbiting satellites of which 955 are already out there. One of his Internet rivals will be our own Sunil Mittal who’s bought a $500-million stake in OneWeb with Britain committing another $500 million. Move to another level and there’s the ultra-high-speed ground transport system hyperloop. There’s also Neuralink, focussed on creating brain implants to treat neurological issues. On top of all that, there’s Open AI, a not-for-profit which aims to develop artificial intelligence for humanity’s benefit.

Musk’s targeting a Mars cargo mission by 2022 and a manned flight by 2024. That schedule may seem ambitious but don’t forget everyone wrote off Musk’s promise to sell 500,000 Teslas by last December. Nobody can seem to match Musk’s imaginative genius— and now his fortune.

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Published on January 28, 2021
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