By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor
Elon Musk has made his first appearance on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires. The 40-year-old entrepreneur has landed at 634 on the list with an estimated net worth of $2 billion.
Musk has developed the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon vehicle to send cargo and crew to the International Space Station. His company, SpaceX, has received money under NASA’s COTS (for cargo) and CCDev (crew) programs. He is also reported to have invested up to $100 million of his own funds into SpaceX.
In addition to his involvement with SpaceX, Musk is a trustee of the X PRIZE Foundation, whose space competitions include the Ansari X Prize, the Google Lunar X Prize and the Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge.
The South African-born entrepreneur also runs two other companies, the electric car producer Tesla Motors and SolarCity, which provides solar energy systems.
Developments in these other two businesses are what fueled Musk’s leap onto the Forbes list of billionaires, according to the magazine. Last October, Forbes estimated that he was worth $680 million.
His electric car company, Tesla Motors, saw a 30% increase in its stock price year over year through Feb. 14, 2012. Tesla stock noticeably jumped after the early February 2012 unveiling of the Model X, which will go into production in 2013. Musk’s 29% stake in Tesla is worth just over $1 billion.
Then there’s SolarCity, a company that designs, finances and installs solar panels and systems. Musk owns a fourth of the company, founded and run by his cousin Lyndon Rive. SolarCity is expected to file an S-1 soon with the intent of going public. The IPO, to be underwritten by Goldman Sachs, aims to value the company at $1.5 billion. At the end of February, SolarCity announced an institutional funding round led by Silver Lake Kraftwerk, including fellow billionaire Nicholas Pritzker. The round raised $81 million.
The biggest wildcard component in Musk’s fortune is his two-thirds stake in SpaceX. The company has already racked up billions of dollars in government and commercial contracts for nearly 40 rocket launches through the year 2017. SpaceX has focused on building reusable rockets (government-built rockets are one-use disposable models), with the end goal of drastically decreasing the cost of space travel. Musk has hinted at a public offering for the company in 2013. He hired former Broadcom finance executive Bret Johnsen as SpaceX Chief Financial Officer in May 2011. Johnsen is expected to prepare the company for an IPO.
Together, Musk’s stakes in SolarCity and SpaceX are worth $1 billion.
A look at other billionaires who are involved in the space industry is below.
|24||Sergey Brin||38||$18.7||Google Lunar X Prize, Prospective Space Traveler (founding member, Space Adventures’ Orbital Mission Explorers Club)|
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