Elon Musk, the outspoken and envelope-pushing chief executive of Tesla, overtook Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person, US media reported Thursday.
Musk is a major shareholder of the electric car company and has benefited from Tesla’s surging share price over the last year. CNBC estimated Musk’s wealth at $185 billion. Bezos, 56, has a net worth of $184 billion.
The distinction is the latest superlative for the South African-born Musk, who leads the aerospace venture SpaceX in addition to Tesla, which has become a pacesetter for the car industry as conventional automakers try to catch up to Tesla’s lead in electric autos.
Tesla had a strong 2020 as it ramped up auto production, broke ground on new factories and reported a series of profitable quarters that enabled shares to rise more than 700 percent during the year as it was added to the prestigious S&P 500 index.
Musk has hit a stride after stumbling in 2018, when US securities regulators required the Tesla chief to step down as chairman and pay $20 million to settle charges he defrauded investors with false claims on Twitter in August about a possible bid to take the company private, which was quickly aborted.
Shares of Tesla surged 5.9 percent to $800.43 in late morning trading, lifting the company’s market capitalization above $750 billion.