Outspoken entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has become the richest person in the world, overtaking Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
The South Africa-born engineer’s net worth was $188.5 billion on Thursday morning, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, who has held the top spot since October 2017.
Musk, who owns 20% of Tesla’s shares, was the 35th richest person in world at the start of 2020.
Musk responded to the news of his status as the world’s richest person with tweets stating “how strange” and “well, back to work …”
He also added in another series of tweets that the reason why he wants lots of money was “not what you think”. He said he had “very little time for recreation” and doesn’t have “vacation homes or yachts or anything like that”.
As chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX), Musk is also a rival to Bezos, owner of Blue Origin LLC, in the private space race.
Musk said he intended to use half of his fortune to “help problems on Earth” and “half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) .
Tesla’s share price has risen by more than sevenfold this year as demand for electric cars soared and government’s announced further measures to wean the world off internal combustion engines.
While Musk has delivered huge returns for investors, some have called for action against his vast pay deal and criticised his habit of engaging in expensive fights on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Musk has hinted that a simultaneous test of two Mars-bound Starship spacecraft later this month.
Starship prototypes are currently under development at SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility in Texas.
SpaceX completed a largely successful test of its Starship SN8 prototype in December, launching it 12.5km into the air and performing a complex landing flip manoeuvre before crash landing.
SpaceX plans to eventually build thousands of Starship crafts at a rate of 100 per year in order to ferry crews and cargo around the solar system. Each vehicle will be capable of carrying up to 100 people.