• May 30, 2010
Diving into an extremely competitive and capital-intensive business in which customers generally don't appreciate having access to beta products is not a good way to enhance your personal fortune. In fact, if Elon Musk is being honest in the latest court filings related to his divorce proceedings, it looks like a great way to vaporize a fortune.
After selling Paypal to eBay in 2002, Musk and his partners netted $1.5 billion. An unknown portion of that went to Musk, who promptly turned around and invested several hundred million into not one, but three enterprises: Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. Neither Tesla nor SpaceX are generating enough revenue yet to be self-sustaining. The last we heard from someone inside Tesla, the company was selling about 20-30 Roadsters a month for likely revenue of under $4 million, plus whatever it's getting from Daimler for Smart ED battery packs.

Apparently Musk isn't personally self-sustaining either, claiming that he has $200,000 per month in expenses and $8,255 in income, presumably from his CEO salaries at Tesla and SpaceX. Musk's filings also list only $650,000 in liquid assets. Given that disparity, it seems like there might be at least a bit of leeway to cut back a bit. At any rate, Musk claims that he has had to start taking personal loans from friends to make ends meet.

Needless to say, Musk's estranged wife Justine sees the family finances a bit differently, and the reality is likely somewhere in between. If Musk's financial position is, in fact, as strained as he says, he'll want to complete the Tesla IPO as soon as possible just so that he can cash out some of his position.

[Source: CNN Money, Forbes]


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  • 54 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      These "no sympathy" people are hilarious.

      1.) Elon got a portion of $1.5 billion.
      2.) Contrary to popular belief, rich people do pay taxes, assuming his rate is between 30 and 50% that's a pretty big deduction.
      3.) Whatever he paid in taxes is more than the "no sympathy" people will make for decades, including their friends and families.
      • 4 Years Ago
      He sounds like a real "DOUCH BAG" to me!
      • 4 Years Ago
      And this is the guy that Obama wants to turn our manned space program over to, supposedly because he could do such a better job of managing a complex and expensive technical program than NASA.

      Goodbye American leadership in space.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is going to make a great movie some day; It'll be sort of like "Tucker" meets "Brewster's Millions"!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Quote: ""STFU with the politics.""




        GFYS, Musk's general incompetence is relevant to the original article.

        The Obama Admin. Dept. of Energy has given this inept fool almost $1 Billion in unsecured loans and grants for Tesla. And now he's broke?? WTF??

        What's going on at Space-X then?
        • 4 Years Ago
        A couple points back...

        1) "yourself" is one word, it does not require two initials...

        2) It takes a lot of money to create anything in technology these days. People with the engineering abilities to synthesize (as opposed to copying) are expensive.

        3) "A vision" can be used to describe someone who has a great idea before anyone else (Edison). It can also describe people who make something work when others have failed or improved significant processes(Whitney/Ford, respectively). It is hardly a good description for someone who insists that if you just keep trying long and hard enough, that failed models (one being battery-sourced electrical vehicle motivation) will work. I think "Dreamer" is better, though "arrogant persistence" works, too. Don't tell me how battery energy density will make some huge jump because of automobiles because we've been trying to increase battery energy density since the first cells were put into a circuit; particularly since the popularization of the cellular telephone in the 80's.

        4) Just because somebody is really successful at one thing, doesn't necessarily mean they will be successful at ANYTHING else.

        5) So it's okay for Musk's lawyer to lie in Divorce court, but we're sure the people he hires to work for his public companies and if he ever gets his hands on a (recurring) public checkbook will be on the up & up, right? I don't see how that's an argument for anything other than keeping him out of the coffers.

        6) Great article, Sam, sorry we all have to get so nasty down here in the comments...
        • 4 Years Ago
        AngeloD

        "Obama wants to turn our manned space program over to,"

        Who told you that idiocy? Glenn Beck? Sarah Palin? Leave your political nonsense on the FoxNews message boards will ya?

        NEVER has Obama stated he wanted to privatize space exploration, he in fact increased Nasa's budget.



        • 4 Years Ago
        "I think it is the "Peter Principle" that says every one rises to his level of incompetence."

        The context in which you used this line suggests to me that you don't understand the Peter Principle.
        • 4 Years Ago
        To put aside the politics for a second...

        I'm sure Musk has a lot more cash on hand than he's letting on--we're talking divorce proceedings, duh--but you've got to respect when the uber-wealthy sink their fortunes into enterprises that will ultimately benefit the rest of us. Musk could've found *much* less productive uses for that $1.5BN than founding Tesla and SpaceX.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Please provide any credible reference to Obama wanting to turn anything over to Musk.
        It's a bald faced lie.
        • 4 Years Ago
        BTW Factoid, what context was I using the Peter Principle? What was the gist behind me using that particular phrase... humm?
      • 4 Years Ago
      All the more reason ex should get a piece of the pie.
      • 4 Years Ago
      NO, what's funny how these are all comments in a car website. Go away politico-bots, no one cares. How sad that this is the best place you can think of to debate... go stand on a soap box down at the Walmart or call into you local AM station and tell 'em all just how smart you are.

      Also, it's not Bush's or Obama's fault. All the world's problems entirely rest on your shoulders AngeloD... why didn't you try harder??? why didn't you post rants that no one would ever read on more forums? if only we all had your wisdom 10 years ago, everything would have been fine, and my dog would still be alive... Thanks buddy, you screwed everyone over.
      Jimbo Jones
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mr. Musk wasn't a founder of Tesla, BTW. Martin Eberhard was the founder of Tesla Motors; Mr. Musk is the current CEO and an investor after the fact. And sounds like Mr. Musk should consider a budget if he thinks he needs 200k a month to survive. Even in Silicon Valley, you can survive on much less than that! All of us in Silicon Valley would love to see Tesla become a successful, mainstream car company now with the proposed tie up with Toyota but perhaps they need a more stable and financially responsible person to take it there than Mr. Musk.
      • 4 Years Ago
      the Tesla IPO will be huge in News but not that huge in market if it happens too quickly given the current/near-future financial market basis. On the valuation side, pure EV cash-flow company like Tesla is still a blind zone. And moreover, the lithium cobalt battery cells (usually for laptop & phones) Tesla currently buying from Panasonic are not mainstream EV battery cells for their cost & safety issues. Tesla has to use some new lithium battery cells like LMS/NCA/NMC on Model S under the cost pressure ($50000 price tag).

      So it is probably a better move for Tesla to raise more capital from Private equity investors and deliver a good Model St before rushing to the IPO.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Regardless of whether you like Obama or Bush and think $200K/month is extravagent . . . . .

      I'm hoping that Tesla can make something out of its product. While it's not my kind of car, it is the start of a new breed of transportation that is surely part of our future. Maybe not perfect out of the starting gate, but it could be a baby step toward our future.
      • 4 Years Ago
      *takes Lotus Elise, crams it full of 10,000 laptop batteries, sells it for twice as much, makes tons of verbal promises to improve the technology and launch another model of car somewhere down the road... maybe 2 years, maybe 4 years, maybe 10 years down the road*

      Will someone give me $10 Billion in eco-tech loans now?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Give the guy credit when credits due.

      a. He was smart and got lucky with paypal. Really lucky as there were 1000 other companies at the time doing cybercash.
      b. He does get kudos for starting 3 pioneering companies:
      Tesla has no competition (really, Fisker is just coming online).
      SpaceX has no competition, Orbital is now getting into manned flight.
      SolarCity was around before the liberals really wanted to make a real industry out of green tech.

      c. Like all smart GUYS, love, life, and kids are never factored into their "vision" and bingo: smart, ambitious people AREN'T PERFECT and just as normal as the rest of us.

      Conclusion: it's all about timing, which means it's all about luck.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow! I thought automobiles were the issue here, but seems like politics are setting the standard. A real war on words!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Musk try a 38 to your head!
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