Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was honored with Time magazine’s highest recognition. “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,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal, said.

Fast facts

  • Musk, presently the richest man in the world, was cited for two huge accomplishments this year, including that his private rocket company, SpaceX, has successfully risen to “own America’s spacefaring future,” and “his car company, Tesla, controls two-thirds of the multibillion-dollar electric-vehicle market it pioneered.” He also leads The Boring Company, which drills transportation tunnels underground, and Neuralink, which aims to provide a neural link from human brains to computers, such as for amputees using computer-aided prosthetics.
  • Among Musk’s controversies cited in the tribute were his decision for Tesla to begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for its electric cars this spring, which created was widely criticized as hypocritical because of the heavy energy cost of mining Bitcoin. Musk retracted the decision shortly after; within 24 hours, the price of Bitcoin plunged 27%.
  • Musk is a cheerleader for cryptocurrency and his often-irreverent tweets have sent the markets into frenzies. But according to Time’s profile, Musk “doubts that crypto will replace fiat currency, and disavows responsibility for the way his tweets have sent markets into a tizzy. ‘Markets move themselves all the time,’ he says, ‘based on nothing as far as I can tell. So the statements that I make, are they materially different from random movements of the stock that might happen anyway? I don’t think so.’”