Elon Musk, the inventor of Tesla and a space entrepreneur, was voted Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” on Monday, closing off a roller-coaster year for the technological billionaire.
This year, the outspoken South African-born 50-year-old with lofty ambitions surpassed space race competitor and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to become the world’s richest person.
In October, his electric vehicle firm’s worth surpassed $1 trillion, and throughout the year, his company SpaceX has collaborated with the US space agency Nasa on a variety of missions, including blasting a rocket into an asteroid in a test run for deflecting any potential Earth-bound space rock.
“Person of the Year is a marker of impact, and few persons have had more effect than @elonmusk on life on Earth, and maybe life outside Earth as well,” Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in announcing the selection via Twitter.
Mr Musk has become increasingly visible in American society in recent years. He has 66 million Twitter followers and appeared as a guest presenter on the legendary late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live in May.
He speaks eloquently about his desire to colonize Mars, and he intends to launch orbital flights next year as part of SpaceX’s planned US return to the Moon.
And he is well-known for his ability to influence markets and the value of cryptocurrencies with a single tweet.
But, for the time being, his greatest socioeconomic impact comes from his ground-breaking electric automobiles.
“Our objective with Tesla has always been to serve as an example to the car industry, and we hope that they, too, will build electric vehicles so that we can expedite the transition to sustainable energy,” Mr Musk told Time in an interview released alongside the Person of the Year decision.
Mr Musk’s plans also include exploration of outer space.
In the film, Time writer and author Jeffrey Kluger stated, “His ambition is to make mankind a multi-planet species.”
In 1927, Time debuted its Person of the Year award. Until 1999, it was known as Man or Woman of the Year.