Elon Musk passes Bill Gates as world’s second-richest person

Tesla boss Elon Musk surpassed Bill Gates to become the world’s second-richest person as the electric-car maker continued its staggering stock-market surge.

A 6.5 percent jump in Tesla’s share price added about $7.2 billion to Musk’s fortune on Monday, putting his total net worth at $127.9 billion — slightly eclipsing Microsoft co-founder Gates’ $127.7 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.

Musk, 49, took the No. 2 spot on the ranking of the world’s 500 richest people less than a week after climbing past Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg into third place. The South African-born entrepreneur is still well behind Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose $182 billion fortune puts him comfortably at the top of the list.

Musk’s wealth has exploded by $100 billion so far this year thanks to the strength of Tesla’s stock, which accounts for the majority of his net worth. The Silicon Valley firm’s market value is approaching $500 billion — making it the most valuable automaker in the world — and its share price has jumped nearly 28 percent since it snagged a spot in the S&P 500 last week.

The upward trajectory could continue ahead of Tesla’s Dec. 21 debut in the benchmark index because big investment funds that duplicate the S&P’s holdings must buy Tesla shares to accurately track its performance.

Gates, 65, was the world’s richest person for years before Bezos dethroned him in 2017. His fortune would be even larger if he hadn’t given such a large chunk of it to charity — including more than $27 billion to his eponymous foundation since 2006, according to Bloomberg News.

Bill Gates
Bill GatesVCG via Getty Images

Musk and Gates have publicly traded jabs in recent months. Gates criticized Musk in July for downplaying concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting he shouldn’t “confuse areas he’s not involved in too much.” That prompted Musk to tweet, “Billy G is not my lover.”

In February, Musk said his conversations with Gates had been “underwhelming” after the software magnate revealed he’d bought an electric car from Porsche rather than Tesla.

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