Tesla CEO Elon Musk likely became the world’s richest person on Thursday, surpassing Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos after an early-morning stock rally.
Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index estimated Musk’s net worth at $181 billion on Wednesday, about $3 billion behind Bezos. That was before a 5 percent stock rally Thursday morning by Tesla, strongly outpacing Amazon’s gains for the morning and likely vaulting Musk to the rank of world’s richest.
The wealth estimates largely are based on Musk and Bezos’ stock holdings in Tesla and Amazon, respectively.
“How strange,” Musk tweeted, responding to a tweet about the news. “Well, back to work ...,” he added.
Bezos owns the Washington Post.
The title of world’s richest caps an extraordinary run for Musk and Tesla, even during a pandemic when the world’s economy grounded to a halt, with record lines outside food banks and elevated unemployment.
Musk was criticized for repeated attempts to keep Tesla’s plant open and then for bringing workers back onto the line as COVID-19 raged, and cases were even reported inside Tesla’s facilities.
Tesla defied county orders so it could restart production. Days later, workers tested positive for the coronavirus.
It marks an unlikely turnaround for Musk.
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Just 18 months ago, Tesla’s stock appeared to have bottomed out on the heels of legal and regulatory fears, as well as concerns about Musk’s leadership.
Musk famously tweeted he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private in August 2018, which kicked off a slew of regulatory battles and plunged Musk’s status as CEO into question.
By 2019 Tesla faced concerns over demand, mounting losses and a shortage of cash — and its stock dropped to a near-term low around June 2019.
But last year, the stock rose steadily — then meteorically — as the company posted consecutive quarters of profits and appeared to prove the viability and demand for electric cars.
Analysts warned the stock could be valued too highly as Tesla took the title of the world’s most valuable automotive company.