- time magazine has named elon musk its 2021 person of the year.
- the title is given to the most influential person over the previous year, and is not necessarily considered an award.
- musk is not the first automotive executive to be named person of the year—the title was given to walter chrysler in 1928 and gm president harlow curtice in 1955.
time magazine announced today that elon musk is the publication's person of the year. the title is not necessarily an award, but rather is given to the person or persons who have had an outsize impact on the world and influence on the news over the previous year. musk's prominent role as the head of tesla, his venture into space travel with spacex, and his current position as the world's wealthiest person, has made him both a household name and a controversial presence in the automotive world and beyond.
this year, tesla became a trillion-dollar company and continued its reign over the growing electric-vehicle market. musk's spacex venture also had a monumental year, launching the first space mission with an all-civilian crew in september. but the time article points out not only musk's business acumen, but also his outspoken personality, describing him as "a madcap hybrid of thomas edison, p.t. barnum, andrew carnegie, and watchmen's doctor manhattan." from his comical, snarky tweets—which can border on internet trolling—to his appearance on saturday night live in may, musk manages almost always to find a way into the daily news cycle.
the magazine also describes how musk's prominence "coincides with broader trends of which he and his fellow technology magnates are part cause and part effect." time points to the replacement of traditional institutions by influential individuals, the shifting of power from government to private corporations, and the growing divide between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of the population. there's also space travel, previously the domain of powerful nations and now being undertaken by companies including musk's spacex.
musk is not the first person in the automotive sector to be named person of the year. the second ever person (then man) of the year was walter chrysler, founder of the eponymous automaker, named in 1928 as the company merged with dodge and began construction of the chrysler building in new york city. the title was also given to harlow curtice, president of general motors, in 1955 when gm sold five million vehicles and became the first corporation to earn $1 billion in a single year. and while musk, chrsyler, and curtice were all accomplished businessmen, musk has become a cultural force unlike any automotive executive before him. "many people are described as larger than life, but few deserve it," time noted.