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Elon Musk

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Named Time’s Person of the Year 2021

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Dec. 13 2021, Updated 1:44 p.m. ET

Love him or hate him, everyone knows Elon Musk. The CEO and founder of both Tesla and SpaceX is the richest person in the history of the world. And his tweets can turn the tides of fortunes. Time magazine declared Musk their Person of the Year 2021. While some roll their eyes at the choice, others understand, Time doesn’t necessarily pick the most beloved person, they choose the person who has had a significant impact. CELEB takes a look at what Time has to say about Musk now that he’s Person of the Year. 

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Person of the Year

Elon Musk

When he’s called the richest person in the history of the world Musk demurs, then jokes, “Excluding sovereigns,” and adds, “I can’t invade countries and stuff.” With a net worth of over $300 billion – an unimaginably huge sum – Musk has the power to change the course of human history, and he spends that money in the way you’d expect an eccentric billionaire. From brain chips to Mars expeditions, Musk has his finger on the pulse of where our species is headed. 

Time writes of their decision to choose Musk; “For nearly a century, TIME has named a Person of the Year—the individual or group who most shaped the previous 12 months, for better or for worse. Person of the Year is a marker of influence, and few individuals have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too. In 2021, Musk emerged not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society. From Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to Facebook turned Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, the year brought home the extent to which, at a time of rising protest over ever deepening inequality, our lives and many of the basic structures around them are now shaped by the pursuits, products and priorities of the world’s wealthiest people.

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Even in that rarefied crowd, Musk is in a class of his own. He sees his mission as solving the globe’s most intractable challenges, along the way disrupting multiple industries across two decades. These include what was once the core American creation, combustion-engine automobiles, and what was once the core American aspiration, spaceflight, as well as a litany of other manifestations of our present and future: infrastructure construction, artificial intelligence, neurotechnology, payment systems and increasingly money itself through his dalliances with cryptocurrencies.”

Musk has driven the rise and fall of businesses and often uses his acerbic wit and sarcastic quips to move markets. Musk is known as a no-nonsense kind of person and doesn’t necessarily have the best personal reputation for being a kind and thoughtful employer or person – but he certainly is successful. Seeming to revel in divisiveness and conflict, Musk has the power to shape the future.

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Elon Musk’s Career

Elon Musk Cyber Truck

Elon Musk is often referred to as a self-made billionaire, but there are conflicting reports about whether or not he received a $28K starter loan from his father – who owned a share in an Apartheid-era mine. Musk claims he worked his way through college and left with $100K in student debt – then started his businesses on his own. 

Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, June 28, 1971. Musk had his hearing checked often as a kid because his parents and teachers thought they couldn’t hear him. It turns out, Musk was so wrapped up in his own thoughts and plans for inventions that he was simply ignoring them. By the age of 10, Musk was deeply intrigued by computers and taught himself programming. By 12 he had sold his first software, Blastar. Introverted with his nose always buried in a book, the shorter-than-average Musk was bullied until he learned martial arts and had a growth spurt at 15. His parents were truly a tale of two worlds. Musk’s mother is a Canadian model and has since become the oldest person to star in a CoverGirl campaign. In order to support her family, at one point she worked as many as five jobs.

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Musk’s father on the other hand, was an engineer in South Africa and eventually acquired a partial share in a Zambian emerald mine. At 17, Musk moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University in order to avoid compulsory military service in South Africa. With a Canadian citizenship in hand, Musk moved to Pennsylvania in 1992 to attend the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with an undergraduate degree in economics and stayed for a second bachelor’s degree in physics. From there, Musk headed to Stanford University to pursue a PhD in energy physics. But just two days into his degree pursuit, Musk left to attend to the internet boom. 

Once he got a handle on the direction he saw the world going with the internet, Musk began investing in tech and these are the companies he climbed to greatness with:

  • Zip2: Founded with his brother Kimbal Musk, Zip2 was an online city guide providing content to The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune among others as they started building their brand new websites in the ’90’s and ’00’s. 
  • PayPal: In 1999, Kimbal and Elon sold Zip2 and used the proceeds to found X.com, an online services and payments company. It was an X.com acuisition in 2000 that led to the founding of PayPal. In 2002, Musk officially crossed the threshold of his first billion when eBay purchased PayPal for $1.5B. 
  • SpaceX: Soonafter, Musk founded SpaceX with a plan to eventually build commercial spacecraft for travel. By 2008 SpaceX was awarded a contract with NASA that helped boom the company in the following decade. 
  • Tesla: Shortly after founding SpaceX, Musk launched Tesla in 2003. Tesla is focused on producing affordable, mass-market electric cars as well as battery products and solar roofs. 
  • SolarCity: In 2016, a $2.6 billion dollar deal was solidified to combine his electric car and solar energy companies. Tesla purchased SolarCity, a company Musk helped his cousins found in 2006. 
  • The Boring Company: Ever focused on maximizing technology’s potential, Musk launched TBC in 2017 as a company devoted to boring and building tunnels in order to reduce street traffic. 
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Over the years, Musk has launched other business ventures such as NeuraLink; a company focused on creating a brain chip to help combat certain diseases. So far, the chip has been implanted into a pig’s brain with promising results. But an implantable chip for human use may be anywhere from 3-20 years away. 

Musk has been investigated by the SEC many times over the years and has been criticized heavily for playing with the stock market by tweeting about Bitcoin and Dogecoin. Considered a villain by some and a visionary by others, Musk is both infamous and famous. Naming him Person of the Year makes sense. Whether we like it or not, Musk is going to decide the course of the future for the human species and the Earth. 

Persons of Past Years

Joe Biden Kamala Harris

Musk joins a long line of esteemed winners. Here are the winners form the past 5 years:

  • 2020: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
  • 2019: Greta Thunberg.
  • 2018: The Guardians and the War on Truth: 
  • 2017: The Silence Breakers.
  • 2016: Donald Trump.

They join the ranks of greats such as Jeff Bezos, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Jimmy Carter and many more. Infamous winners include Nikita Krushchev, Nixon and Henry Kissinger, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin and others. 

Whether you think Musk belongs with the former list or the latter, he is officially Time‘s Person of the Year 2021. 

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