What do you get the richest person in the world?
How about a perch as Time’s Person of the Year. The magazine has conferred that honor on Tesla founder Elon Musk, citing his work revolutionizing the electric car industry, as well as the fact that his company SpaceX’s won an exclusive NASA contract to put astronauts on the moon. Musk, as the magazine notes, also had a well-received hosting turn on SNL. It wasn’t all encomiums. The magazine also brought up Musk’s penchant for inspiring controversy on social media and his ability to rumble markets with the power of a single tweet.
Time Editor-in-Chief and CEO Edward Felsenthal writes, “In 2021, Musk emerged not just as the world’s richest person but also as perhaps the richest example of a massive shift in our society. Musk’s rise coincides with broader trends of which he and his fellow technology magnates are part cause and part effect: the continuing decline of traditional institutions in favor of individuals; government dysfunction that has delivered more power and responsibility to business; and chasms of wealth and opportunity. In an earlier era, ambitions on the scale of interplanetary travel were the ultimate collective undertaking, around which Presidents rallied nations….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.”
Time named the scientists behind the COVID-19 vaccines as the year’s heroes, it honored “Drivers License” hitmaker Olivia Rodrigo as its artist of the year, and cited Simon Biles, the Olympic gymnast whose decision to go public with her mental health struggles sparked a global debate, as the athlete of the year.
Last year, Time named Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the people of the year. Past recipients have included Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos, Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg.
In Time’s interview with Musk, the entrepreneur shares his thoughts on President Biden (he’s not a fan) and reveals that he and singer and songwriter Grimes are ” semi-separated.” He also has some grand plans for humanity.
“The goal overall has been to make life multiplanetary and enable humanity to become a spacefaring civilization,” he says. “And the next really big thing is to build a self-sustaining city on Mars and bring the animals and creatures of Earth there. Sort of like a futuristic Noah’s ark. We’ll bring more than two, though — it’s a little weird if there’s only two.”
So, there’s a lot to look forward to.