What Would It Take For Elon Musk To Become A Trillionaire?

By on January 14, 2024 in ArticlesBillionaire News

We recently wrote about a hypothetical alternate reality where Bill Gates just became the world's first trillionaire thanks to Microsoft's market cap hitting $2.9 trillion. The premise of that article was that at one point, Bill owned 45% of Microsoft, and in a not-totally-unrealistic world, he could still own at least 35% (instead of just 1.4%). Bill would be a trillionaire if he owned 35% of Microsoft today. In that same article, we discussed how even if Steve Jobs were alive and still owned his original 20% stake in Apple that he held in the early 1980s, he would be nowhere near trillionaire status. But what about Elon? What would it take for Elon Musk to become a trillionaire?

Let me first give you an idea of just how much Elon Musk's fortunes have grown over the last few years. In October 2019, Tesla's entire market cap was $50 billion. Today, Tesla is worth $700 billion. In November 2021, Tesla's market cap hit $1.2 trillion. At that point, Elon's net worth briefly topped $340 billion. That made him the richest human in modern history, edging out John D. Rockefeller, whose record stood uninterrupted for more than 80 years.

Elon Musk's net worth is currently $206 billion. Elon's fortune is built on two primary assets:

  • #1) His 43% stake in the privately held SpaceX.
  • #2) His 21% stake in the publicly traded Tesla. He directly owns 412 million shares of Tesla, roughly 13% of the company, and has another 304 million exercisable options.

When SpaceX last raised money in December 2023, it did so at a valuation of $180 billion. Therefore, Elon's 43% stake is worth $77 billion.

As I type this article, Tesla has a market cap of $700 billion. Therefore, Elon's 21% stake is worth $147 billion.

$77 + $168 = $224 billion. So why is he currently worth $206 billion? The answer is complicated, but in short: debt. Elon has pledged around 60% of his Tesla shares as collateral on $3.5 billion worth of loans. Also, his investment in Tesla has been nothing short of a financial disaster. Elon took Twitter private in October 2022 at a valuation of $44 billion. He personally-guaranteed billions of dollars worth of debt to finance the transaction. Today Twitter is worth less than $19 billion. Elon owns 79% of Twitter… which ya he renamed X… blah blah blah… no one calls it that.

(Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

What Would It Take To Hit $1 Trillion?

The following circumstances represent the most likely way for Elon Musk to become a trillionaire:

#1: Tesla's market cap hits $3.5 trillion. Elon's $21% stake would be worth $735 billion at that level. A reminder that Tesla's current market cap is $700 billion. So, we're talking about a 5x+ increase in value compared to the present. That's not a crazy scenario. Tesla's current value is more than 10x its value four years ago.

#2: SpaceX's value (either private or as a public company) hits $600 billion, a 3X+ increase from today. Assuming he maintains a 40% stake at that level, his shares would be worth $240 billion.

Combined, his two stakes would be worth $975 billion. Rounding out for some debt and other assets, I think it's safe to say Elon would be a trillionaire.

A significant caveat is that all the net worth numbers we just mentioned are pre-tax. If Tesla and SpaceX continue to grow, Elon's pre-tax paper net worth will grow, but whenever he sells any shares, he'll have a capital gain and will owe the IRS a cut. If he decided to sell every single share of Tesla and SpaceX the day he hit $1 trillion… and if there was a market that could handle such a massive influx of shares for sale… Elon would end up with a net worth closer to $500 billion.

That said, if, in some insane world, SpaceX does grow to a $600 billion valuation AND Tesla grows to a $3.5 trillion valuation, Elon Musk will officially be the world's first trillionaire.

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