Forty years ago, science fiction author Ben Bova surmised that the world’s first trillionaire would be born on the back of commercial space operations, and he wasn’t wrong. According to Forbes, Elon Musk’s personal fortune has quadrupled in a decade and now stands at just over a trillion dollars, making him not only the world’s richest person, but also the first – and only – trillionaire.
And it’s only partly due to the success of Tesla, which catapulted Musk firmly to the top of the billionaires’ club with an estimated net worth of US$ 250 billion in October 2021. At the time, Morgan Stanley rated SpaceX the most valuable private company; that was when Starlink was barely operating a full network, and Starship prototypes hadn’t reached orbit yet.
But the vision for SpaceX was clear. The business of space was wide open for innovation and market dominance, and SpaceX had first mover advantage. Fully reusable Starships would not only service space stations and the Moon, but would be capable of transporting 100 tons of cargo around the world in under an hour. And eventually travel to Mars.
Since then, we have seen Starlink expand their constellation to thousands of satellites, providing high bandwidth internet to almost every corner of the globe. Starship and its gigantic boosters have rewritten the economics of space launches, and SpaceX has gone public. As the single founder, visionary, and ‘technoking’ of SpaceX, Elon has held on to majority of the stock, and every tick upwards ratchets his fortune higher.
Elon Musk is a maverick and a bit of a daredevil, who is willing to risk his own money on a dream, to change the world. In the startup days of Tesla and SpaceX he was almost broke. Now that he can afford to buy a whole country, or perhaps several small ones, what will he invest in next?