Top 3

Elon Musk

CEO, Tesla


Elon Musk, a prolific entrepreneur, has cofounded several influential companies, including Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Company.

Musk's ownership in Tesla amounts to approximately 12%, excluding options, although he has pledged over half of his shares as collateral for personal loans reaching up to $3.5 billion.

A Delaware judge invalidated Musk's 2018 option deal, which would have granted him an additional 9% of Tesla. Forbes has discounted the options by 50% pending Musk's appeal.

SpaceX, established in 2002, soared in value to nearly $180 billion following a tender offer of up to $750 million in December 2023, marking a fivefold increase in four years.

Musk acquired Twitter in 2022 for $44 billion, subsequently expressing intent to retract from the deal. He presently holds an estimated 74% stake in the company, now rebranded as X.

Forbes estimates that Musk's ownership in X has depreciated by nearly 70% from its acquisition value, based on investor Fidelity's assessment of the company as of December 2023.

In 1995, Musk, accompanied by his younger brother Kimbal, founded Zip2, a web software company assisting newspapers in developing online city guides.

Compaq Computer Corp. acquired Zip2 in 1999 for $341 million. Musk utilized the proceeds to establish, a fintech venture ahead of its time. merged with Confinity, a money transfer firm, forming PayPal. Despite being ousted as PayPal's CEO by Peter Thiel before its acquisition by eBay for $1.5 billion, Musk benefited from the sale due to his 11.7% stake in PayPal.

Musk revealed in a 2018 interview that his post-tax proceeds from PayPal amounted to about $180 million, of which he allocated $100 million to SpaceX, $70 million to Tesla, and $10 million to SolarCity. He even had to borrow money for rent despite his significant windfall.