From flat-out to billionaire: how Elon Musk became the richest

Ezra Finch
4 min readMar 21, 2022

Elon Musk is the richest person on earth and even the richest person ever. How did this weirdo build up his wealth?

That the road to success for Elon Musk was quite bumpy, you can see in this infographic alone with all his fails. We’re not even talking about that expensive divorce yet.

How it all started for Elon Musk

We start at the beginning: Elon Musk taught himself to program at a young age, we read on Business Insider. His entrepreneurial spirit was there early on. When he was 12 years old, he sold his first programmed video game for $500.

He is originally from South Africa, but moved to Canada just before the age of eighteen. There he had a number of heavy physical jobs, including as a lumberjack, grain scooper and cleaner of the engine room of a sawmill. He got about 18 dollars (15 euros) per hour for that. Before that time (1989) this was a high hourly wage.

That diminished when he did a summer internship at the Bank of Nova Scotia. There we immediately learn lesson 1 of Elon Musk’s career: be proactive to achieve what you want. The smart young man was hired because he had approached an executive and — how could it be otherwise — made an impression.

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