Taking stock of the rich
Texas soon may gain a billionaire whose wealth would put him atop the state’s hierarchy of rich folks.
Earlier this year, billionaire Elon Musk dangled the prospect of relocating the headquarters of his Tesla electric-vehicle manufacturing company to Texas. Now, he’s reportedly toying with the idea of moving himself to Texas.
Several unnamed “close friends and associates” tell CNBC that Musk plans to move to Texas from California. No word on where Musk might land in the Lone Star State, but SpaceX CEO already spends a lot of time in Austin, where Tesla is building a $1.1 billion auto manufacturing plant and where his tunnel startup, Boring Co., recently set up operations.
But that doesn't rule out other cities. Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company maintains a launch facility on the Texas Gulf Coast, so San Antonio or Houston may also be contenders.
As of December 7, Forbes estimated Musk’s net worth around $140 billion, placing him at No. 3 among the world’s wealthiest people. If he were to move to Texas, it would make him the state’s richest resident, far eclipsing Walmart heir Alice Walton of Fort Worth, whose net worth was estimated at nearly $69 billion as of the same date.
“California, often condemned by the super rich for its high tax rates and stiff regulations, has seen an exodus of notable tech names during the pandemic as companies look to cut costs and prepare for a future of distributed work,” CNBC points out. “Musk has been among the loudest critics this year, comparing the state to a championship sports team that’s become complacent and developed a ‘winning-for-too-long problem.’”
Texas is seen as more pro-business than California and, for folks like Musk, is a haven from state income taxes.
In May, Musk tweeted that he planned to move Tesla’s headquarters and future development from California to Texas and Nevada in response a local pandemic lockdown affecting Tesla’s factor in Fremont, California. For now, Tesla’s headquarters remains in Northern California, but the company did reveal in July that it would build a so-called Gigafactory just outside Austin to produce its Cybertruck pickup truck and Model Y SUV.
Around the time of the Gigafactory announcement, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on CNBC’s Squawk Box that Musk told him he’d gotten a Texas driver’s license and is a “bona fide Texan now.”
In another sign of Musk’s potential relocation to the Lone Star State, the eccentric entrepreneur recently put four Southern California homes on the market, according to the Bloomberg news service. In May, Musk elaborated in an interview with podcaster Joe Rogan — who himself recently fled Southern California for Texas — on his pledge to sell nearly all of his physical possessions, including his homes.