Time magazine named Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as Person of the Year for an incredible 12 months of achievement in which he fought for the crown of the richest person in the world and made of his Twitter account a must read while moving the needle on climate change, crypto-currencies, space exploration and universal broadband.
In April, NASA awarded Musk’s rocket company SpaceX an exclusive contract to send American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972, giving Musk a head start on rival old-guard rocket company Boeing and move closer to its stated goal of helping. to make man a multi-planetary species.
In May, Musk hosted Saturday Night Live, using the TV show as a platform to poke fun at himself and raise awareness of Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, by announcing that he has it. .
In October, Musk’s growing wealth received a new turbo after car rental company Hertz announced plans to buy 100,000 Teslas for its customers. The news caused Tesla’s shares to skyrocket, and the valuation of the electric vehicle company topped $ 1 trillion.
Although electric vehicles made up just 0.43% of all vehicles on the road in the United States in the first half of this year, Tesla controlled about two-thirds of that market, according to Experian Automotive.
Not all of these milestones have quelled Musk’s bizarre (and sometimes costly) behavior. He regularly shares humorous memes with his 65 million Twitter followers. Tesla shares took a hit last month after Musk asked in a Twitter poll if he should sell his Tesla shares, which he owns for nearly $ 11 billion, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission. the United States.
He also used Twitter as a platform to help move cryptocurrencies further into the mainstream. In February, Musk announced that Tesla had purchased $ 1.5 billion in Bitcoin and signaled his intention to start accepting it as a form of payment. He also touted Dogecoin through a series of memes that helped turn once-joking cryptocurrency into a sought-after digital asset.
But he also showed the limits of his crypto boost, tweeting in May that Tesla would suspend acceptance of Bitcoin payments and citing concerns about the cryptocurrency’s carbon footprint.
Not just dollars and memes
The Bitcoin flip-flop has given Musk’s higher stated goals of curbing climate change more credibility.
“If the 800,000 Teslas sold last year had been gasoline-powered cars, they would have emitted more than 40 million tonnes of CO₂ in their lifetime, equivalent to Finland’s annual emissions,” wrote the Time magazine in its musk profile.
But reducing emissions is only part of his grand vision for humanity. Musk also wants people to start colonizing Mars.
“The overall goal has been to make life multiplanetary and enable humanity to become a space civilization,” Musk told Time.
Asked by Time about the timing of sending people to Mars and supplies to the Red Planet to get back to Earth, Musk replied, “I’d be surprised if we didn’t land on Mars within five years.
Back here on Earth, Musk is working to bridge the digital divide with Starlink, a satellite broadband service with nearly 2,000 satellites launched to date. It hopes to launch up to 42,000 more to provide Internet service to underserved rural and developing communities around the world.
Musk is also in talks with the Brazilian government on how Starlink’s satellites can help fight deforestation and forest fires in the Amazon. And it is taking action to provide internet service to rural India.
But things aren’t all starry for the billionaire. Some former employees accused his companies of fostering an environment where sexual harassment, poor working conditions and racism are rife. Earlier this year, a federal jury ordered Tesla to pay more than $ 137 million to a former African-American employee at the electric vehicle maker’s plant in Freemont, Calif., Who said Tesla had shut down the eyes on racial abuse.
Tesla was fined for violating the regulations. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reviewing the safety of Tesla’s autopilot software after a complaint involved it in an accident.
Musk’s Midas touch and rise in net worth has also placed him in the crosshairs of inequality and debate over whether the government should force the rich to pay more taxes.
“Much of the pressure for greater government involvement and government expropriation of assets is being driven by a group of politicians who are in fact saying that resources in the control of individuals should be in the hands of the government. government control. They’re basically saying they want control of the assets, ”Musk told Time magazine in an interview.
Born in Pretoria, South Africa, Musk moved to the United States to study at Stanford University as a doctoral student, but dropped out. He co-founded Internet mapping service Zip2 and electronic payment company PayPal, which were subsequently sold to Compaq and eBay, respectively.