Why Time magazine chose Elon Musk as 2021 Personality of the Year – Quartz
TIime magazine named Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as its Person of the Year 2021. “Person of the Year is a marker of influence, and few people have had more influence than Musk on life on Earth, and potentially life on Earth as well.” says the magazine editor Edward Felsenthal. “In 2021, Musk became not only the richest person in the world, but also perhaps the richest example of a massive change in our society.”
The Person of the Year designation usually goes to a person or group who has shaped people’s lives over the past 12 months, for better or for worse. When the magazine started the tradition in 1927 he named Charles Lindbergh, the first man to perform a solo transatlantic flight, as Personality of the Year; this year, he picked an entrepreneur who sees commercial promise in spaceflight.
Musk represents “the continuing decline of traditional institutions in favor of individuals,” Time writes. While space exploration was once the backbone of governments, such ambitious ventures are now left to private companies like SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. In one large-scale maintenance with Musk magazine spoke about income inequality, Tesla’s valuation and his utopian vision for the future.
Why Time chose Musk as Personality of the Year
Time cited Musk’s disruptive impact on the automotive and aerospace industries. This year, Musk’s net worth surpassed $ 300 billion, while Tesla is now one of the few companies in the world to be valued at $ 1,000 billion.
The magazine credits Musk with almost single-handedly creating the electric vehicle market, “having seen long before others the demand for clean energy transportation that the global climate crisis would eventually propel.” A decade after Tesla’s IPO, US President Joe Biden is focusing heavily on electric vehicles, while his older rivals scramble to design and build their own electric cars to catch up with Tesla.
With SpaceX, Musk hopes to land planes on Mars and eventually “enable humanity to become a space civilization,” he told Time. The private space company is currently working on build a spaceship for NASA that will bring Americans to the moon for the first time in over 50 years.
The CEO of Tesla seems to have big ambitions for the future. The ideal society, he said, would be one in which work is done by robots, and humans don’t want any good or service. “There isn’t necessarily someone who is your boss,” he said. “I don’t mean to suggest chaos, but rather that you are not under anyone’s control. So you have the freedom to do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt others.
Musk sometimes gets into trouble
“Such cosmic ambition is seldom without consequences, and Musk must always answer to earthly authorities,” notes Time. He’s often in pretty hot water with regulators, the courts, and the general public.
He got into trouble with the Securities and Exchange Commission on several occasions; more recently the regulator said he was investigating Tesla following a whistleblower complaint alleging the company failed to inform shareholders and the public of the fire hazards associated with the company’s solar panel system.
In October, a federal jury in San Francisco ordered Tesla to pay $ 137 million more claims by a former black entrepreneur that he was the victim of racial discrimination on the job. A month later, a worker at the Tesla factory filed a complaint alleging widespread sexual harassment at his workplace. Claims like this haven’t stopped Musk from tweeting sexist jokes on social media. “As my tweets make clear,” Musk told Time, “it’s humor that I find funny, but not many people find it funny.”