A look at Elon Musk’s accomplishments in 2021

A look at Elon Musk’s accomplishments in 2021
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, June 29, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce
Earlier this year, Musk was recognized as the richest person in the world, and it didn’t take long for the success to keep coming.

Who’s Elon Musk?

  • Elon Musk grew up in South Africa, but he left when he was 17 years old to live with his mother in Canada.
  • By the time he was 24, Musk had founded his first major company called Zip2, which provided maps and directories to online newspapers.
  • Zip2 was acquired by a larger company for US$307 million, and Musk used this money to found a new company with his brother, Kimbal Musk, called X.com, which would later become PayPal Holdings Inc.
  • In October 2002, Musk earned his first billion when eBay Inc. acquired PayPal for US$1.5 billion in stock. Before the acquisition, Musk owned 11% of PayPal stock.
  • From there, he founded Space Exploration Technologies Corp., aka SpaceX and now runs that alongside Tesla Inc. and several other companies.

What did he do in 2021?

  • Earlier this year, Musk was recognized as the richest person in the world, and it didn’t take long for the success to keep coming.
  • In April, SpaceX won an exclusive contract with NASA to put American astronauts on the moon, which hasn’t happened since 1972.
  • Outside of significant innovations in the tech industry, Musk has played a huge part in the buying and selling of cryptocurrency, being able to crash a coin by just appearing on a late-night TV show and making a comment about the coin’s technology.
  • Musk also decided to get involved in a bit of domestic politics after it was announced that American lawmakers would be aiming to target the wealthy with The Billionaires Income Tax.
  • “Eventually they run out of other people’s money, and then they come for you,” he tweeted, criticizing the bill that would increase the taxes on the wealthy.

What about Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” award?

  • So, every year, when someone is selected for this title, Time explains the reason they chose that particular individual.
  • “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," wrote Edward Felsenthal, the editor-in-chief and chief executive officer of TIME.
  • The award recognizes those who have “made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
  • While some have found favor in Time’s pick of Elon Musk, others don’t feel too confident in this choice.

How did critics respond?

  • Musk has a massive fan base that is generally excited to see him chosen for the honorary title, but his position doesn’t come without some criticism.
  • Robert Zubrin, the founder of the Mars Society, had nothing but words of praise for Musk when describing the entrepreneur.
  • “He is a humanist — not in the sense of being a nice person, because he isn’t,” says Zubrin. “He wants eternal glory for doing great deeds, and he is an asset to the human race because he defines a great deed as something that is great for humanity. He is greedy for glory. Money to him is a means, not an end. Who today evaluates Thomas Edison on the basis of which of his inventions turned a profit?”
  • On the other side of the aisle, Robert Reich, a Berkeley professor and former Secretary of Labor, pointed out that Musk isn’t the saint that the Times article paints him to be.
  • “Elon Musk’s debut is a good time to remind you that he illegally threatened to take away stock options if employees unionized, and has had 43 workers’ rights violations filed against his company since 2010,” tweeted Reich.

What’s next?

  • Musk recently appeared on The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit, where he spoke on what he would be looking to achieve in the upcoming year.
  • The Tesla Cybertruck is a battery-electric light-duty truck, which Musk described as probably “our best product ever," something really special, and is aiming for volume production in 2023.
  • When it comes to neurotech company Neuralink Corporation, Musk explained that the company “is working well in monkeys and we’re also doing a lot of testing and confirming its really safe and reliable and that the neuralink device can be removed safely."
  • “We hope to have this in our first humans with severe spinal cord injuries next year pending FDA approval," he added.
  • On the other hand, Starship, a fully reusable launch vehicle, is also in development by SpaceX. And when speaking on it, Musk described it as a very difficult project. While he hopes it will be ready in 2022, he didn’t say for sure.

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