Edited by DavidHamber at 2015-12-28 08:17
There really aren’t very many people with the kind of industry-changing vision that, say, Steve Jobs had. When you get right down to it, Jobs was unique; he possessed both the vision to dream up successful new ways of doing things and the power to make them come true.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some leaders doing amazing work today. In only 18 months as Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella has briskly brought his vast corps of employees into an open, coherent new era of design and products. Mark Zuckerberg continues to guide Facebook with an impressively unwavering hand. Uber, led by CEO Travis Kalanick, is still shaking up the transportation world with a series of bold and often controversial moves.
But Elon Musk, man. He doesn’t do a lot of press, so the public doesn’t track him as they might any other kind of rockstar.
But in 2015, this 44-year-old South African native won over a lot of skeptics in a lot of areas:
This year, the Hyperloop project gained a lot of speed. A call for design submissions generated 700 entries; a corporation was formed (Hyperloop Technologies); and the development of one-mile and five-mile test tracks got under way.
The Hyperloop idea has been derided and dismissed by all kinds of engineers and experts who’ve found insurmountable flaws with the economics, construction politics, and scientific feasibility.
But it’s unwise to bet against Elon Musk. He’s shown more than once that he can bring implausible but breathtaking high-tech projects to life, and even make them profitable.
What’s exhilarating is that, underlying each of his initiatives, you can sense a desire to change the world for the better. Tesla’s all-electric cars move us away from the disastrous long-term effects of gas-powered cars; the Hyperloop could diminish the need for expensive, polluting air travel; and Musk has said that one of SpaceX’s long-term missions is to give humanity a Plan B by hurrying our outreach to Mars.
Musk has that rarest combination: the technical smarts, the business acumen, and above all, the moonshot-caliber imagination to make world-changing technologies a reality. It’s for that reason that we’re naming Elon Musk Yahoo Tech’s Person of the Year.