High-tech prodigy, recurring start-up success, and business visionary, that’s Elon Musk.
Time Magazine just crowned him 2021’s “Person of the Year.” One more accolade added to a list that appears to have no end.
Elon took an interest in computers at the age of ten. By the time two years had passed, he was self-schooled in computer language.
In a micro-foreshadowing of things to come, the code for a video game that he had created fetched five-hundred bucks.
Like other kids whose IQs are seemingly in the stratosphere, peer equals tend to be in short supply, which sometimes leads to major misunderstandings. This was the case for Elon.
An undeserved share of childhood time was spent warding off attacks by bullies. On one occasion, he had to be hospitalized after being thrown down a flight of stairs. It happens way too often. Guess it’s just the perpetual price that has to be paid for being different.
In 1995, Elon co-founded a web software company called Zip2, which in 1999 was sold to Compaq for over $300 million.
He racked up another fortune in 2002, when PayPal was sold to eBay. During the same year, he founded SpaceX, an aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, where he now serves as CEO and CTO.
The year 2004 would turn out to be a big one. Elon joined a company that would eventually become electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, Inc. He rose to CEO in 2008. The value of Tesla soared, as did Elon’s share. This would propel him past his billionaire rivals right to the top of the world’s richest list.
It’s no stretch to say that the media have had it out for him for a while now. One blaring example is an incident that occurred in 2018, when he appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He sampled a single puff from a cigar that Rogan described as consisting of tobacco laced with cannabis.
Many in the media conflated the whole thing into a story that questioned Elon’s stability as a business executive. The negative coverage caused Tesla shares to drop in value, which in turn created a crisis in confidence. No problem for the tech mogul, though.
He explained to CBS’s “60 Minutes,” “I do not smoke pot. As anybody who watched that podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot.”
Elon has been an adept Twitter user since 2009. His followers clock in at almost 68 million people.
It’s an understatement to say that he has mastered the medium. Over the years he used it to communicate business and tech ideas. But he has also jousted with debaters as well as detractors, one of the most recent being Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
After Time named him “Person of the Year,” Sen. Warren launched a social media attack. She kicked off the virtual war with the following tweet: “Let’s change the rigged tax code so The Person of the Year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else.”
She also took out Facebook ads that accused him of being a “freeloading billionaire.” Evidently seeking to impose a wealth tax on him, the ads asked for people who agreed with her to chip in $10.
Elon was not about to take all of it lying down. He responded with his own tweet.
“You remind me of when I was a kid and my friend’s angry Mom would just randomly yell at everyone for no reason,” he posted, adding, “Please don’t call the manager on me, Senator Karen.”
He noted the following in a separate tweet: “If you opened your eyes for 2 seconds, you would realize I will pay more taxes than any American in history this year.”
In an interview with the Babylon Bee website, he elaborated. “She struck first, obviously. She called me a freeloader and a grifter who doesn’t pay taxes, basically,” he noted.
“I’m literally paying the most tax than any individual in history has ever paid this year, ever, and she doesn’t pay taxes, basically. And her salary is paid for by the taxpayer like me. If you could die by irony, she would be dead,” he said.
Elon is reportedly set to pay an unprecedented tax bill of $11 billion, due to the sale of some Tesla stock. He has been critical of a tax on unrealized gains, which has been advocated by Sen. Warren and other Democrats.
He had previously commented on his Twitter account, “Eventually, they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you.”
Interestingly, he does not receive a salary from Tesla, having agreed to a compensation plan that ties his personal earnings to Tesla’s valuation and revenue.
As a matter of fact, he has repeatedly described himself as “cash poor” and has “professed to have little interest in the material trappings of wealth.”
On a celebrity note, he has become an integral part of the global pop culture, having appeared in films such as “Iron Man 2,” “Men in Black: International,” and “Why Him?”
He has also been featured on television shows that include “The Simpsons,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “South Park,” and “Saturday Night Live,” where he served as host of the show.
In China, he has become a “trademark phenomenon,” according to the South China Morning Post, which reports that over 270 different companies have registered trademarks using his name.
Pretty good for a kid who taught himself how to speak computerese and then clicked his way to the top of the world.