Time Magazine on Monday named billionaire entrepreneur and business magnate Elon Musk as its 2021 Person of the Year, citing his vast “influence on life on Earth, and potentially life off Earth too.”
Musk, deemed the second-richest man in world by Forbes Magazine with an estimated net worth of $270 billion, is the founder and CEO of rocket producer SpaceX and CEO of electric vehicle maker Tesla, among his many other enterprises.
Time Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal said the choice of Musk for Person of the Year recognizes his emergence “not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society” in which momentum to create progress is moving from “traditional institutions” such as governments to individuals.
Musk’s “ambitions on the scale of interplanetary travel” — a feat once dreamt of only by presidents and nations — marks him as someone whose influence goes beyond life on Earth to “potentially life off Earth too,” Felsenthal said.
“For creating solutions to an existential crisis, for embodying the possibilities and the perils of the age of tech titans, for driving society’s most daring and disruptive transformations, Elon Musk is Time’s 2021 Person of the Year,” he said.
In the magazine’s cover story, Musk is described as “a shy South African with Asperger’s syndrome, who escaped a brutal childhood and overcame personal tragedy” to now bend governments and industry “to the force of his ambition.
“To Musk, his vast fortune is a mere side effect of his ability not just to see but to do things others cannot, in arenas where the stakes are existential,” the authors wrote.
This has been was the “year of Elon Unbound,” they declared, beginning in April when SpaceX won NASA’s exclusive contract to put U.S. astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972. A month later, Musk hosted Saturday Night Live, and in October, car-rental giant Hertz announced it planned to add 100,000 Teslas to its fleet.
Musk made news again last month with the sale of 10% of his Tesla stock — a transaction that sent its share price down by 15.4% for the week, although it remained up 46% from a year earlier.
Musk wrote in a tweet to his more than 60 million followers the sale was made to make a point about “unrealized gains being a means of tax avoidance.”
By Don Jacobson