Elon Musk’s coffers became a smidge lighter on Thursday after his net worth plummeted by $12.6 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, the biggest drop in Musk’s wealth so far this year. That fall comes on the heels of a fairly tumultuous 24 hours for SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter, three of the largest businesses under Musk’s leadership.
Tesla’s share price fell by 9.8 percent on Thursday following disappointing first quarter results
Tesla published disappointing first quarter results on Thursday morning, reporting an almost 20 percent decline in the company’s gross margins. The EV manufacturer has made several aggressive price cuts to its vehicle lineup in recent months, a move that increased sales despite the struggling EV market but ultimately resulted in a hit to its overall profit margins. Tesla’s share price fell by 9.8 percent to $162.99 by the time markets closed on Thursday. Musk’s 13 percent stake in Tesla makes up the largest share of his (now) $163.9 billion net worth.
On the same day, SpaceX’s integrated Starship spacecraft experienced a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” over the Gulf of Mexico — which is just a fancy way of saying it exploded — four minutes into its first test flight. Starship had successfully cleared the launchpad before it started to spin uncontrollably and then burst into a ball of flames before stage separation. Musk has a 42 percent stake in SpaceX and is planning to attempt another Starship test flight in “a few months.”
And then there’s Twitter. Musk made good on his promise to remove blue checkmarks from legacy accounts on Thursday, with the verification logos sputtering in and out between page reloads with the technical prowess we’ve come to expect from the platform before eventually disappearing completely. The Twitter CEO has replaced legacy verification — something he once called an unfair “lords & peasants system” — with one that requires users to pay an $8 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue.
Unless you’re a wealthy celebrity. After The Verge reported that LeBron James was offered a complimentary subscription from Musk, the Twitter CEO confirmed that he was paying to verify James, Stephen King, and William Shatner.
Advertisers and media organizations are now watching the situation with bated breath amid concerns that the removal of legacy verified checkmarks could increase misinformation. Issues have already occurred from accounts purchasing Twitter Blue to impersonate notable individuals, brands, and government departments — Eli Lilly’s stock price tumbled by almost 5 percent in November last year after a fake account masquerading as the pharmaceutical company tweeted that “insulin is free now.” Such impersonations will likely be much easier now that so many companies have lost their verified status.
Musk remains the world’s second-richest person despite this latest tumble in net worth, sitting behind French tycoon Bernard Arnault. In fact, this recent loss doesn’t even eclipse the $26.8 billion increase in the billionaire’s wealth this year off the back of Tesla’s earlier 33 percent share price rebound in January.