New York (CNN Business)Elon Musk is getting close to grabbing the title of world’s richest person from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The Bloomberg real-time billionaire tracker now has the two multi-billionaires within $3 billion of each other, with Bezos at $184 billion and Musk at $181 billion. Bill Gates is now a distant third at $132 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The Forbes real time tracker still has them $18 billion apart, after Bezos lost $4.3 billion in the value of his Amazon ( stock Wednesday to fall to $183.4 billion on concerns that )Democratic control of the Senate could mean greater scrutiny and regulation of Big Tech.
Another gain in Tesla ( shares lifted Musk’s net worth by $4.1 billion to $165.4 billion, according to Forbes’ calculations. But Forbes does not appear to be giving Musk credit for the value of options he received in 2020 to buy an additional 33.6 million shares of Tesla. )
Musk is also the primary shareholder of SpaceX, another company of which he is CEO, although SpaceX is privately held, so its value does not fluctuate as much as the value of Tesla.
Bezos’ stake in Amazon shares increased by $75 billion in 2020, to $173.3 billion, given the huge increase in sales driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But that was nothing compared to Musk’s holdings in Tesla. The 170 million shares of Tesla he already owns increased in value by $106 billion during 2020, as shares shot up 743% during the course of the year.
The value of his stock options he held at the start of the year increased by $14.2 billion, while the new options he received during the course of the year as part of his pay package had a value of $21.5 billion at year’s end.
Musk caught Gates for the title of the world’s second-richest person in late November, but Tesla shares have increased in value by 45% since then, lifting Musk’s net worth by $53 billion over the past couple months.
Tesla shares are off to a good start in 2021, rising another $50.31 a share, or 7%, since the start of this year. That has lifted Musk’s Tesla holdings and options by another $11 billion this year. Meanwhile, Amazon’s stock lost nearly 4% of its value.
Musk is set to qualify for options to buy another 16.9 million shares of Tesla early this year, according to company filings. Those options would be worth $11.6 billion at the shares’ current value, after taking into account the exercise price.
Bezos does not have any Amazon stock options, only the 53.2 million shares he has as the company’s founder. He would have had more if he hadn’t given 19.7 million shares to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, in his divorce. Bezos has also sold off or has given away shares as part of his charitable donations. Musk has never disposed of any Tesla shares.
It’s not just Bezos who Musk is close to catching. ExxonMobil, the United States’ most valuable oil company, has a market value of $188.6 billion. So Musk, who is the leading advocate of switching drivers around the world from gas and diesel to electric vehicles, is close to being worth as much as one of America’s largest oil companies.