Elon Musk has overtaken Jeff Bezos to become the world's richest person, worth an estimated US$189bn (NZ$260bn), after his electric car firm Tesla surged in value, briefly surpassing Facebook.
According to Bloomberg, which tracks the rich list through its "Billionaires Index", the electric car entrepreneur has leapfrogged Bezos, who is estimated to be worth US$184bn, having already moved ahead of Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates in recent weeks.
Musk has been propelled to the top of the rich list faster than any other individual in history, having been worth just US$27bn at the start of 2020. Bloomberg's Billionaires Index is updated formally after the markets close.
The huge uptick in Musk's fortunes comes as shares in his electric car maker Tesla surged by almost 750pc over the past 12 months, joining the S&P 500 index last month. On Thursday, shares in the company continued higher, and at one point, Tesla was worth more than Facebook, at US$765bn, although later slipped down.
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Tesla's stellar share price rise came despite it only having made around 500,000 vehicles last year, significantly less than automotive stalwarts such as Ford and General Motors. Investors are betting on the growing demand for electric vehicles as countries including the UK set timelines to ban sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles.
Even those who had previously been bearish on the stock, such as RBC Capital Markets's Joseph Spak, have since changed their view of the company. This week, Spak said he had "got Tesla's stock completely wrong", and hiked forecasts for the company.
Shares in Tesla pushed higher on Thursday, after the Democrats gained control of Congress yesterday, potentially bringing forward further incentives for electric cars.
Bezos is not alone in having seen his wealth balloon over the past year, and Bloomberg figures suggest the top 500 richest people in the world had added US$1.8bn to their net worth over 2020.
Amazon boss Bezos, for example, added almost US$70bn to his fortunes over the past year as tens of millions of consumers logged on to the online retailer during the pandemic for shopping and entertainment. He owns more than 10 per cent of Amazon, which is valued at around US$1.6 trillion.
- Telegraph Media Group