Jeff Bezos's reign at the top of the big business billionaire charts was surprisingly short lived as electric car pioneer and space explorer Elon Musk.

Tesla and SpaceX brainbox Elon Musk has overtaken Amazon giant Jeff Bezos as the richest man on the planet. Musk is now worth a whopping $184 billion, overtaking Amazon entrepreneur Bezos' highly enviable wealth of $183 billion. An increase in Tesla's share price on Thursday, January 7, pushed Musk past Jeff Bezos. Bezos had been the world's richest person since 2017. Musk is a Tesla Inc chief and billionaire entrepreneur, known for pioneering commercial space travel and electric cars, among other innovations.

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He is often seen as one of this generation's great public scientific minds, in the mould of Albert Einstein or Nikola Tesla, after which his company is named. Musk is also the real-life inspiration for Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of Tony Stark in Iron Man. Bezos is Amazon.com Inc's top boss, having aggressively built the delivery company up from an online book seller to a global giant selling a variety of goods and turning over billions of dollars every week. Including Thursday's gains in Tesla shares, Musk had a net worth of more than $188.5 billion, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, Bloomberg reported in the US.

The news is a cap to what have been an extraordinary 12 months for the 49-year-old South African-born engineer, during which his net worth jumped to more than $150 billion. That was largely due to Tesla's share price soaring 743% last year on the back of consistent profits. Tesla produced just over half a million cars last year, a fraction of those produced by Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co, Bloomberg reports.

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And the company is set for yet more gains in the near future with the US Democratic party effectively gaining control of Congress on Wednesday after securing both Senate seats in Georgia. The Democratic Party has previously championed a quicker adoption of electric cars to curb carbon emissions.