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Elon Musk reflects on being Time ‘Person of the Year’ as his fortunes tumble

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Elon Musk has reflected on being Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ – and his vastly different fortunes, 12 months on.

When Mr Musk was given the honour, at the end of 2021, the magazine noted his rising wealth, the excitement about him among the public, and the impact he has had on technology and space.

“12 months ago, I was Person of the Year,” Mr Musk wrote on Twitter on Tuesday evening. He did not give any indication of why he noted the anniversary, or how he felt about the time that has since passed.

But a year on from his recognition, Mr Musk’s fortunes are wildly different. His net worth has fallen faster and further than anyone in modern history, and investors at his other companies are concerned about the future of both his existing firms and his new company, Twitter.

That has led to a drastic fall in the share price of Tesla, for instance, in which much of Mr Musk’s personal weath is still invested. Over the year since Mr Musk was recognised by Time, the value of his electric car company has dropped by almost 72 per cent.

Public mood also appears to be changing towards Mr Musk. In late December, he surveyed Twitter’s users about whether he should stay on as chief executive of the site – and the result showed that most wanted him to quit, with more than 57 per cent of the more than 17 million respondents calling for him to leave.

He has since said that he will leave the company as soon as he finds someone “foolish” enough to replace him.

When Mr Musk was announced as Time’s Person of the Year for 2021, it said that he was given the award 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”.

It noted that the full scale of Mr Musk’s ambition and effect on the world had not yet come to fruition – and that it was still unclear what exactly he was going to do.

“We don’t yet know how fully Tesla, SpaceX and the ventures Musk has yet to think up will change our lives,” it wrote. “At 50, he has plenty of time to write the future, his own and ours. Like it or not, we are now in Musk’s world.”

It also said that 2021 had been a year that “brought home the extent to which, at a time of rising protest over ever deepening inequality, our lives and many of the basic structures around them are now shaped by the pursuits, products and priorities of the world’s wealthiest people”.