Frenetic billionaire Elon Musk has been dethroned as the world’s richest man for the first time in 22 months after a tumultuous year that saw a slump in the value of shares of his electric company Tesla.
Forbes and Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Musk who made a fortune through providing technological solutions has been overtaken by France’s Bernard Arnault, who is the chief executive of luxury goods group LVMH.
Forbes has placed Musk’s net worth at about $178 billion (Ksh.21.9 trillion) now, $10 billion lower than Arnault who is worth $188 billion (Sh23.1) trillion.
This is after his net worth dropped by Sh24 billion as investors continued to dump Tesla’s shares on worries that the controversial billionaire was too preoccupied by Twitter, the communications company he acquired last month after failing to get out of the deal.
Musk, 51 shocked the world in April after he offered to buy Twitter and take it off the New York Stock Exchange in a brazen display of how the world’s richest individuals can wield their fortunes. He later tried to get himself out of the deal but was forced to complete it due to legal implications.
He offloaded more than $15 billion in Tesla shares – about $8.5 billion in April, then another $6.9 billion in August in order to raise enough cash to fund the purchase of Twitter, a company he promised to turn around but has so far failed to do so.
Instead, he has continued to hemorrhage Tesla by withdrawing billions of dollars to fund his Twitter adventure while limiting free speech on the platform by banning critical journalists despite promising to promote free speech when he took over the company.
He has also embarked on a controversial revamp of the company’s operations, which include sweeping layoffs, forcing employees to work at its San Francisco headquarters, and Musk sleeping in the Twitter offices as he tries to trim costs at the struggling social media company.