As if aboard a rocket of his own design, Elon Musk’s net worth has surged upward along with stock prices of Tesla, the company he has guided to a market cap of more than $350 billion. The result of a timely Tesla stock split, Musk’s sudden and rapid increase and wealth has propelled him past Warren Buffet on the global billionaires list, placing him firmly in the top 5.
The CEO of the world’s premier electric auto company is also one of the most outspoken of the elite-tier magnates, preferring to dictate company PR via his personal Twitter account. But throughout his ascent, his confidence and audacity have empowered his success, but his ambition has driven Tesla to the forefront of automotive software innovation.
While its competitors struggle to catch up to Tesla technologically and financially, the company has not slowed its internal advancements, perpetually maintaining its healthy lead. Whereas traditional auto companies are adapting themselves into the electric car market, Tesla launched with a principal focus on its software, which is as essential to its vehicles as the battery and proprietary motor.
Tesla holds an advantage over other manufacturers whose internal computers are limited to the installed version; with Musk’s company, drivers can get software updates as new features are developed. In October 2020, the company issued the first beta version of its “Full Self-Driving” software to a limited number of customers, an enhancement of the Tesla Autopilot suite of assistance features.
Despite the daring claim in its name, the beta software does not yet make the vehicles fully autonomous, but Musk understands the need for slow and cautious advancement in self-driving technology. Musk has referred to Tesla’s vehicles as akin to computers on wheels, and envisions a future where updating your car is as common as upgrading your smartphone software.
While his cars use machine learning and AI to improve future upgrades, Musk is still wary of the potential for exploitation in advancing technology. After cutting ties with OpenAI, the research company he co-founded, he criticized its leadership for entering the commercial market with Microsoft. However, Musk has not ruled out licensing Tesla’s software, including Autopilot, to competing companies in the name of progress. But while this gesture reiterates his dedication to keeping AI out of the hands of hypothetical villains, any further developments to Tesla’s technologies will also certainly enhance Elon Musk’s fortune and hubris equally.