Tesla’s monster rally propels Elon Musk past anti-EV oil baron Charles Koch in net worth

Elon Musk giving YouTube tech reviewer Marques Brownlee a tour of the Fremont factory. (Credit: MKBHD/YouTube)

Tesla stock has been on a tear recently, with the company receiving a boost from its stellar second quarter delivery numbers. But even before TSLA shares hit new all-time highs on Thursday’s intraday, the electric car maker’s rise ended up pushing CEO Elon Musk a bit higher up on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, thanks to his net worth of $53.4B as of Thursday. With this, Musk actually ended up surpassing the net worth of the US’ premier oil baron, Charles Koch, who is listed in the Index with a net worth of $51.5B. 

As of Thursday, Musk stands as the 16th richest person in the world. Koch, meanwhile, stands as the 18th on the list. Granted, Musk’s net worth is tied directly to Tesla and SpaceX’s valuation. However, Musk’s rank today does stand as a symbolic victory for the CEO, considering that he and Koch could not be any more different with regards to their stance on the environment

Charles Koch is the chairman and chief executive of Koch Industries, which is widely considered as the second-largest closely held business in the United States, operating in oil refining, pipelines, commodities trading, ranching, and paper pulp, among others. Charles Koch and his brother, the late David Koch, are regarded as oil barons, and both have been active in promoting the fossil fuel industry.

Musk and the Koch brothers actually bumped heads somewhat back in 2016, following a report from The Huffington Post alleging that the oil barons were funding efforts to strike back against the rising popularity of electric vehicles, one of them being the Tesla Model S. The HuffPost report, citing refining industry sources, noted that a Koch Industries board member and veteran energy lobbyist will be involved in the anti-EV initiative. 

Incidentally, the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a firm registered by Charles Koch and energy expert Robert L. Bradley Jr., actually published an attack against the Tesla Powerwall, claiming that the home battery system (which was then at its Gen 1 version then) would take nearly 40 years to pay off. This prompted a response from Tesla, which called the IER report “elementary at best.” 

Elon Musk personally responded to The Huffington Post report as well, expressing dismay at the Koch’s anti-EV initiative. In a follow up post, Musk highlighted that the fossil fuel companies, as well as vehicles that run on the internal combustion engine, are actually “heavily subsidized via oil company tax credits,” as well as “unpaid public health costs.”

Tesla stock has risen further on Thursday’s trading, propelled by the company’s positive Q2 report. With this in mind, Elon Musk may very well rise further in the billionaires’ list soon. Interestingly enough, Musk is known to invest most of his wealth on his own company’s projects. Thus, it appears safe to assume that most of the CEO’s fortune today would likely be used to either accelerate Tesla’s mission of ramping sustainable technology, or SpaceX’s mission of making humans multiplanetary. 

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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