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Elon Musk’s net worth – how did the Tesla boss make his money?

ELON Musk is the eccentric billionaire behind a raft of the most exciting companies on the planet.

But his erratic behaviour landed him in several spots of bother over the years. Here's what you need to know.

 Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk is worth an estimated $23.5bn
Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk is worth an estimated $23.5bnCredit: AP:Associated Press

What is the lawsuit by diver Vernon Unsworth about?

Musk launched an extraordinary Twitter attack on July 15 2018 in which he called British diver Vernon Unsworth a "pedo guy".

Mr Unsworth, a cave diving expert, was among the key figures in the rescue of a Thai youth football team who were stuck in a cave complex in July 2018.

But he accused Musk of trying to hijack the tragedy when the billionaire offered to send out a "kid-sized submarine" to take the trapped children out.

Mr Unsworth said the businessman could "stick his submarine where it hurts".

In screenshots of a now-deleted tweet from Mr Musk's verified account, Musk said: "Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it".

The billionaire went on to claim he didn't see Mr Unsworth "at any point" during the rescue operation.

On 17 September Mr Unsworth filed court papers in Los Angeles suing Musk for libel.

But on December 7 2019 Musk defeated the defamation claims.

Unsworth was seeking $190 million in damages for the shame and humiliation caused by the man his lawyer called a billionaire bully."

What is Elon Musk's net worth?

Self-made billionaire Elon Musk, 47, is ranked number 25 on the Forbes rich list with an estimated personal fortune of $23.5bn (£17.9bn).

A notorious workaholic, he doesn't spend his money on lavish vacations or expensive hobbies.

Instead, the entrepreneur spends most of his free time at the office or in factories.

At the end of the day he heads back to one of several Los Angeles mansions he owns at the end of the day.

How did he make his fortune?

In 1995 he and his brother Kimbal started software firm Zip2, which created internet city guides for the New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

Four years later Elon pocketed $22million when the firm was sold to Compaq.

Later in 1999 he founded X.com, one of the world's first online banks, which merged with PayPal the following year.

Musk, who held 11.7 per cent of PayPal shares, scored a huge payday when the firm was bought by eBay for $1.4bn in 2002.

He went on to found SpaceX and took over Tesla Motors which is now worth around $70bn.

 Musk has unveiled plans to send thousands of people on a one-way trip to colonise Mars
Musk has unveiled plans to send thousands of people on a one-way trip to colonise MarsCredit: Reuters

What companies does Elon Musk own?

Elon Musk began investing in space travel in 2001 when he tried to buy Russian ballistic missiles that he hoped could send payloads into space.

Instead he set about building his own rockets through his firm SpaceX.

The company has pioneered re-usable rockets and has successfully landed its Falcon 9 craft, a first for an orbital rocket.

SpaceX has won contracts to launch payloads into orbit for Nasa and is now valued at more than $20bn.

Musk has much grander plans including a colony of a million people living under glass domes on Mars.

In 2004, Musk was involved in refinancing start-up tech firm Tesla Motors and oversaw the design of its the Roadster electric car.

He took over as boss in 2008 and has led the push to make electric cars mainstream.

In 2017 the company was briefly valued at more than Ford and General Motors.

In August 2018, Musk said he had secured funding to take the firm back into private ownership at $420 a share, valuing Tesla Inc at $71.3bn.

Musk was forced to resign as Tesla chairman and pay a 15million fine after settling a deal with US regulators over tweets about taking the company private.

Shares in the company soared for a short period, but later plunged.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said his claims were "false and misleading".

He will remain as Tesla CEO but will have to step down as chairman for three years.

Musk funded the SolarCity firm founded by his cousins, which makes solar panels and is now owned by Tesla Inc.

He also co-founded Hyperloop One, which aims to develop high-speed train travel, and The Boring Company which is testing cheaper ways to dig tunnels.

Another of Musk's start-up is Neuralink, which aims to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence through implants in the skull.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk is selling 20,000 flamethrowers and promises they will protect you against zombies ‘or your money back'

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