Why is Elon Musk so Powerful and Rich?




Talkjing about successful and rich people. The X man. He can do whatever he wants, he is powerful, even more rich and powerful then the Kardashians.

Elon Musk is one of the world’s most influential and wealthy entrepreneurs today. As the CEO of companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and others, Musk has amassed over $200 billion net worth, making him the wealthiest person in the world as of 2024. But how did a South African-born engineer become so successful and influential? This blog post will explore Musk’s background, pivotal moments, and the keys to his meteoric rise.


  • Childhood in South Africa

Elon Musk was born in 1971 in Pretoria, South Africa, to an engineer father and a model mother. From a young age, he was interested in computers, teaching himself computer programming by age 12. Musk was severely bullied in school, causing him to become more introverted and focused on books and computers. At age 17, he moved to Canada alone to avoid mandatory service in the South African military. He worked various jobs like cleaning out grain bins and cutting logs in cold Canadian winters to support his studies.

  • Move to America

After attending Queens University in Ontario for two years, Musk transferred on a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in physics and economics. Eager to join the internet boom, he dropped out of Stanford’s graduate program to found his first company Zip2, an online content publishing platform for news organisations. Zip2 was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999, earning Musk his first fortune.

Pivotal Moments

  • Founding of SpaceX

After selling Zip2, Musk invested heavily into another startup called X.com, which later became PayPal after a merger. EBay acquired PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion. Now wealthy from two successful startups, Musk sought to pursue his childhood dream of space exploration by founding Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) in 2002. Many in the industry wondered if a private startup could compete with national space agencies. But SpaceX went on to develop cost-effective reusable rockets and became the first private company to launch and dock a spacecraft at the International Space Station in 2012. NASA relies heavily on SpaceX for routine cargo launches and astronaut transport today.

  • Tesla Motors

While at Stanford, Musk became interested in electric vehicles as a solution to carbon emissions and climate change. In 2004, he became the primary investor in Tesla Motors, an electric car startup. As CEO, he oversaw the development of Tesla’s first car, the Roadster, a luxury EV sports car. Despite early financial struggles at Tesla, Musk’s relentless push established Tesla as the most valuable auto manufacturer in the world today. Tesla has led the EV revolution with sleek designed vehicles like the Model S, Model 3, and Model Y.

  • Neuralink

In 2016, Musk co-founded Neuralink, a neurotechnology company that develops implantable brain-machine interfaces. The technology could one day help quadriplegics control devices with just their minds. This highlights Musk’s desire to push boundaries in fields like neuroscience. Musk has also discussed Neuralink’s potential to create a “Symbiosis with artificial intelligence.”

  • Twitter Acquisition

In October 2022, Musk completed his controversial $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform Twitter. Musk has immense influence over public discourse worldwide as Twitter’s new owner. He has promoted free speech on the forum while facing backlash over increased toxic content under his leadership. The long-term implications of Musk’s control over such an influential media outlet remain to be seen.

Keys to Success

  • Visionary Thinking

Musk is highly ambitious and thinks far beyond what is possible today. He aspires to revolutionise transportation on Earth while establishing a human colony on Mars. Even if his goals face scepticism, Musk’s vision attracts the brightest minds and spurs cutting-edge innovation. His emphasis on sustainable energy and space exploration has reinvigorated public interest in these areas.

  • Risk-Taking

Musk is willing to take bold risks and invest heavily in uncertain ventures aligning with his vision. For years, his companies verged on bankruptcy before turning into successes. Instead of following the herd, Musk gambles early on emerging technologies like electric cars, reusable rockets, and brain implants that seemed improbable then. His risk appetite has paid off massively.

  • Execution

While visionary, Musk is also attentive to execution. At Tesla, he is obsessed with building an affordable, long-range electric vehicle to overcome barriers to mass adoption. He relentlessly pushes his employees to turn his ambitious goals into reality. Musk’s hands-on approach to problem-solving has allowed his firms to turn concepts once considered pie-in-the-sky into functional products and spacecraft.

  • Branding

Musk understands the importance of capturing the public imagination. He builds hype and garners free media attention for his projects. Musk brands himself as an inventor and engineer, despite controversy over how much he contributes directly to his engineering teams. His branding, juxtaposed with the celebrity culture of Silicon Valley, has created a mythos around Musk as an almost larger-than-life entrepreneur.

  • Vertical Integration

Rather than outsourcing, Musk prefers to build technologies in-house at his companies whenever possible. He heavily favours vertical integration across the entire production cycle. SpaceX builds rocket engines, spacecraft, and launch vehicles to control quality, costs, and innovation. Tesla acquired battery producer Maxwell Technologies to secure a key component. Owning more of the supply chain reduces reliance on external vendors.

  • Work Ethic

Musk is known for working tirelessly, sometimes up to 100 hours per week. He expects long hours from employees across his companies. Musk has publicly stated that hard work is required to progress, echoing the Silicon Valley culture of work as identity. However, some former employees have criticised Musk’s demands as unsustainable. But there’s no debating Musk’s commitment. Even with a fortune worth over $200 billion, he continues to be deeply involved in engineering and design.


  • Pedo Guy Tweet

Musk has repeatedly found himself embroiled in public controversy. In 2018, Musk called a British cave diver who criticised Musk’s mini-submarine created for the Tham Luang cave rescue a “pedo guy” on Twitter. The diver sued Musk for defamation, and a jury found Musk not liable but described his comment as an “off-the-cuff insult.” The debacle damaged Musk’s reputation.

  • SEC Fine

In 2018, Musk tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share, causing a spike in Tesla’s stock, and the SEC sued Musk for defrauding investors, eventually paying a $20 million fine and stepping down as Tesla’s chairman for three years. The chaotic saga harmed Musk’s standing while illustrating the power of his oft-erratic Twitter presence.

  • Covid-19 Misinformation

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Musk incorrectly predicted on Twitter that cases would decline rapidly in the US and that panic over the virus was “dumb.” He also made misleading comparisons between Covid and the flu. Musk’s commentary contradicted science and public health recommendations, contributing to the spread of misinformation on social media.

  • Workplace Allegations

Under Musk’s leadership, Tesla and SpaceX have faced allegations of sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and union busting in their workplaces. Both companies reject the allegations. However, the controversies point to broader concerns over Musk’s brash management style and intense work culture fostering potential misconduct. Musk remains widely popular with many employees, making assessment complex.

  • Twitter Acquisition

Musk’s divisive takeover of Twitter has drawn praise from supporters of free speech but alarm from groups worried about increased harassment and misinformation. Musk enacted mass layoffs immediately at Twitter, fraying its content moderation efforts. If Twitter descends into further toxicity under Musk, the backlash could extend beyond the company to damage Musk’s broader public image. But the situation remains fluid in these early stages of his ownership.


Elon Musk’s extraordinary trajectory from a South African childhood to dominating the auto and aerospace industries and emerging technologies have made him extraordinarily wealthy and influential: his ambitious visions, high-risk tolerance and relentless drive to achieve the improbable fueled his success. Musk thinks on a different plane than most entrepreneurs, envisioning a multi-planetary civilisation transformed by sustainable energy and neural implants.

At the same time, Musk’s authoritarian management approach and combative public persona have made him a polarising figure. His stance as a free speech absolutist and scepticism of public health expertise raise concerns. Musk hopes to be remembered most for pushing humanity forward as a species. But his larger-than-life persona also attracts controversy. While undeniably one of the most important business leaders and inventors of this era, the ultimate legacy of Elon Musk remains unfinished as he continues to shape the future across Earth and space.


mandy b.
mandy b.https://iammandyb.com
Founder, owner, writer Iammandyb.com & artistheat.com (coming up this summer)
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