How Much Does Elon Musk Make A Year?
What kind of salary does a businessman such as Elon Musk bring in? How much money is one capable of making from a world-renowned career as one of the foremost innovators in the world? Rumors swirl about the amount of money that Musk rakes in each year, and the truth may surprise you.
Musk has taken on a number of roles in his professional life. He is the founder and chief engineer of Tesla Motors. He’s also a futurist, investor, philanthropist, and renowned innovator whose works have earned him a place at the forefront of 21st century technology. But what sort of income comes with such a wide-ranging career as his?
In order to answer that question, one must first understand Musk’s net worth. As of November 2020, Forbes puts Musk’s net worth at a staggering $88 billion. That number goes up as Musk’s companies and investments continue to gain success. Such a result is to be expected from a man who’s turned multiple start-up companies into multi-billion dollar enterprises.
Much of Musk’s wealth comes from the success of Tesla Motors, which reported $24.6 billion in revenue in 2019. What’s even more impressive is that this number is up from $21.5 billion the year before. Owing to these gains, Musk was rewarded with an annual salary of $56,369. That’s a trifling amount compared to what Musk’s true earnings were shown to be in 2019: $2.3 billion.
Of that $2.3 billion total, $2.284 billion came in the form of stock option awards. The Silicon Valley executive was paid a meager $35,360 in salary in comparison. Meanwhile, Musk has seen his immense 2018 salary package slashed by 75% this past year. The Senate Banking Committee wrote a letter to Tesla’s Board of Directors in 2019 which criticized Musk for sending “the wrong message about the Company’s priorities.”
Musk has seen his immense 2018 salary package slashed by 75% this past year, limiting his annual earnings to a much more palatable $1 billion. In comparison, the average American earns $43,441 per year, a fraction of what Musk has earned this past year.
This income difference speaks to the rich-poor gap in the US. Musk’s $88 billion net worth is over 20 times that of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. This fact – when combined with rising income inequality and the 2008 Great Recession – causes one to cast a wary eye towards those whose wealth seems relatively unfettered by economic hiccups.
Environmental Impact Of Elon Musk’s Companies
Much of Musk’s growth in wealth stems from the success of Tesla Motors, and how it integrates sustainability into every aspect of its operations. Tesla vehicles are powered by electricity, significantly reducing the company’s carbon footprint. This shift towards more eco-friendly cars has caused auto-industry leaders to focus on the development of electric vehicles, a shift that Musk and his companies have been at the forefront of.
The electric car industry is predicted to reach $1 trillion by 2030, with electric cars comprising at least 50% of total vehicle sales. The increased demand for electric vehicles will have a far-reaching impact on the environment due to the lack of emissions from such cars. This shift towards a greener future is directly attributable to Musk’s impact on the industry.
The potential of electric cars has also opened the door to new forms of transportation. Tesla Motors is currently developing the Hyperloop, an experimental system of transportation which will allow commuters to travel quickly between cities at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. Musk has stated that the Hyperloop could one day transport people between San Francisco and LA in under 30 minutes.
The Hyperloop is an ambitious project which seeks to revolutionize the way we move cross-country, but Musk has also set his sights on modes of interplanetary travel. SpaceX, one of the man’s many companies, is developing the Starship, a space-going vessel that is designed to one day transport humans to Mars. The launch of this vessel could potentially propel humanity into a new age of space exploration.
Elon Musk’s Philanthropy
In addition to his focus on sustainability and zero emission technology, Musk has been a visible member in the philanthropic community. In 2018, he donated $6,250,000 to multiple educational, children’s, and science-related charities. That number went up in 2019 when he willfully gave $19 million to the California Community Foundation.
Musk has also been at the fore of numerous non-profit initiatives, the most famous of which is the global Giving Pledge. This pledge is centered around encouraging billionaires who are “focused on solving environmental, health and community issues”, and is personally kept by Musk himself. He has also taken initiative in creating his own foundation, the Musk Foundation, which primarily works towards the betterment of human life through education and renewable energies.
Others in the scientific community have also praised Musk’s philanthropic efforts. He and his wife, Justine Musk, have been actively involved in helping struggling communities around the world through their foundations and charities. Together, the pair have donated millions of dollars to various causes that are working towards improving the lives of the less fortunate.
On top of their charitable giving, the couple has proven to be staunch supporters of education. Musk has funded multiple science and engineering-related programs and scholarships which are designed to give those who are interested in a future within the STEM fields a head start on the competition. These efforts will no doubt bear fruit in the coming years, as more and more people benefit from the forward-thinking nature of the Musk Foundation.
The Case for Better Working Conditions for Elon Musk and His Employees
Critics of Musk tend to focus on his ability to rake in such a high-salary, but the truth remains that this income is only possible through the exploitation of those who work for him. The 2018 salary package of $56,369 was based on a 40-hour work week in which that salary would’ve only been equal to a mere $14 an hour, far below the $15 California minimum wage. In addition, this salary is supplemented by stock options which are tied directly to the performance of the company.
The argument that Musk pays his employees any better than minimum wage is invalid. While he may be one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, much of his success is due to the hardworking labor of his employees. Those who directly contribute to the development of Tesla and its products only get a fraction of the profits which Musk seems to be reaping in at an astronomical rate.
In light of these facts, it may be necessary for the government or even Musk himself to reevaluate the practices which are being employed at his companies. The current economical status quo in which a few individuals reap immense profit from the labor of others is quickly becoming more and more difficult to ignore. In order for the US economy to become more equal, and for Musk’s companies to become even more successful, better wages and working conditions must become a necessity.
Public Perception of Elon Musk
When it comes to public perception, Musk is both adored and reviled at the same time. The majority of people who know of him will admire him for his technological innovations and aspirations towards a greener future. However, many will also view him as greedy or arrogant, given his outspoken personality and massive wealth.
Musk himself doesn’t seem to be affected by public perception, nor does he do anything to actively counter it. He largely stays out of the public eye, the focus of his attention on the innovative projects that he’s involved in. Even when criticized, he will move on to the next project and continue his work, seemingly unaffected by his detractors.
Musk has also taken steps to distance himself from the tech industry’s elite. He has spoken on the dangers of artificial intelligence, and is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Tesla. Instead, he focuses his energy on even further reaching projects such as the Hyperloop and SpaceX.
The common thread which runs through the many successes of Elon Musk is a drive for innovation. He doesn’t take no for an answer, pushing forward with each new project and engineering feats which have been thought to be impossible. This attitude will likely remain his hallmark in the years to come.
The Disadvantages of Being Elon Musk
Being as ambitious and successful as Elon Musk also has its downsides. Stress, exhaustion, burnout and even depression are common issues which arise when leading such a high-stakes lifestyle as Musk’s. There have been numerous reports of the man’s irrational behavior while under the pressure of leading several companies, which some attribute to the lack of sleep and rest.
In addition, Musk has come under fire for relying on stock option rewards as his main source of income. This form of pay is heavily reliant on the performance of the company, and allows for the manipulation of annual earnings. It allows for inequality amongst the many employees of his companies, as some are able to receive higher pay due to the state of the company at the time of stock option rewards.
Ethicists have also questioned Musk’s lack of disclosure to the public when it comes to stock option rewards. As the chief engineer, designer and executive of multiple companies, it’s up to Musk to disclose information regarding his pay, and many have argued for better transparency when it comes to his salary.
The reality thus remains, that despite being one of the most influential people on the planet, there are still many issues to be resolved when it comes to Musk’s ambitious endeavors. Workplace equality, environmental sustainability, and ethical practice are just a few of the challenges which come along with his immense success.
The Future of Elon Musk
Despite the issues that Musk has faced over the past few years, the future of his career still seems bright. Tesla, SpaceX, and the many other companies affiliated with the tech giant are continuing to gain success, and with each new project Musk takes on, his wealth and place in the world only grows stronger.
What will be remembered when Musk’s career is said and done is the impact he’s made on the world. His legacy will be defined by his tireless work on eco-friendly cars, advanced space exploration, and his contributions to the public sphere. His name will forever remain in the annals of history, as one of the most noteworthy technological innovators of this and any other century.