Manufacturing giant, richest person in the world and divisive personality Elon Musk has been named Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ for 2021. Musk joins the long list of influential, though often controversial, figures that Time’s editors have picked as people (or inanimate objects) “who affected the news or our lives the most, for better, or worse”.
2021 was a massive year for Musk; notably, he became the richest man in the world, furthered his place in the electric world, progressed space travel, influenced the stock markets through his tweets, and hosted Saturday Night Live on the side. In October, hire-car company Hertz announced they were ordering 100,000 vehicles from Tesla for their fleet; this caused Tesla’s stock price to soar to $1 trillion and, alongside it, Musk’s personal wealth. It is estimated that the majority of Musk’s wealth comes from his Tesla stocks, so with Tesla becoming the highest valued car manufacturer, overtaking Ford Motor and General Motors combined, he quickly surpassed Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, to become the richest man in the world with a net worth greater than $250 billion (almost $60 million more than Bezos).
Musk’s company SpaceX is one of the world’s leading private space exploration companies. In previous years NASA had partnered with SpaceX for some contracts; however, 2021 saw the rise of Jeff Bezos Blue Origin as a rival in the space exploration scene. The rise of Blue Origin caused a corporate war, as NASA was offering an exclusive contract that would ensure the success of the chosen company in the long run. SpaceX ended up securing NASA’s exclusive contract and will be working with them to put astronauts on the moon for the first time since 1972. Furthermore, Musk hopes to achieve space travel to Mars through his work at SpaceX. Moreover, he hopes that SpaceX will be the company to pioneer multi-planetary living for humanity.
On Twitter, Musk has amassed a following of 66 million, and his tweets have unprecedented power to adjust the world and the stock market. Take, for example, in January during the GameStop meme craze on the 26th of January, GameStop’s share price closed at $147.98; later that day, Musk tweeted a link to the subreddit r/wallstreetbets with “Gamestonk!!” and subsequently, GameStop’s stock rose by over 130% closed the 27th with a share price of $347.51. A month ago, he polled Twitter about selling 10% of his Tesla stock, and the crowd voted yes; so far, he has sold over $10 million of Tesla stock. However, he needs to sell 5 million more Tesla shares to fulfil his Twitter promise.
Due to Musk unexpectedly successful year and his unprecedented social influence, it makes perfect sense that he has been named Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’. Although choosing Musk was a divisive decision, his influence on the media and world is undeniable. Time’s only aim is to reflect a person’s dominance in the media for a year and Musk easily fulfils that requirement.