Elon Musk wealth plunges $17 billion as drama unfolds across empire

NEW YORK – It has been a tumultuous 24 hours for billionaire Elon Musk.

Tesla disappointed investors with its first-quarter results, sending the electric-car maker’s shares down 9.75 per cent on Thursday to US$162.99.

An experimental Starship rocket designed by SpaceX achieved lift-off in Boca Chica, Texas, only to explode about four minutes later in a fiery ball above the Gulf of Mexico.

And on Twitter, as Mr Musk promised weeks ago, millions of users lost their legacy blue checkmarks for choosing not to pay US$8 (S$10.70) a month for the privilege.

When it comes to his net worth, Tesla’s sinking share price had the most immediate consequences. His wealth dropped by US$12.6 billion (S$17 billion) as a result, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his biggest decline in 2023.

His stake in Tesla, including shares and options, makes up the biggest part of his US$163.9 billion fortune, though SpaceX has become more important as its valuation soars.

Mr Musk, 51, is chief executive officer of both companies, as well as Twitter, the social media site he acquired in 2022. He remains the world’s second-richest person, behind French luxury tycoon Bernard Arnault, and has seen his fortune rebound by US$26.8 billion in 2023 on the back of Tesla’s 32 per cent gain.

At Tesla, Mr Musk acknowledged “it’s difficult to say what the margin will be”, when asked what level of profitability the company was comfortable with.

As for SpaceX, he congratulated employees and said he is optimistic about the programme’s progress, according to an internal e-mail seen by Bloomberg.

And on Twitter, among other things, he replied to a tweet about April 20 – known as 420 Day and an unofficial pot holiday.

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