Updated: May 30, 2022
It is hard to forget that just a few months ago, cryptocurrencies did not look like they were going to stop growing. While Bitcoin and Ethereum are still recovering from this recent big crypto dip, the interest in crypto is expanding: Specifically the NFT market.
The NFT market had tremendous growth last year, with most companies and brands selling their own NFTs. Disney, Nike, McDonald’s, and many other mainstream companies started selling NFTs. Celebrities and influencers are playing an essential role in the crypto market. They changed the world by proving that crypto would last longer than analysts had expected. While many influencers played key roles in bringing crypto into the spotlight, there’s one man who led the crypto market to become a trillion-dollar market: Elon Musk.
Who Is Elon Musk?
Forbes ranks Elon Musk as the wealthiest person in the world. Truly a remarkable figure, he started his entrepreneurial career with Zip2 (now PayPal) in 1995, establishing the first online transaction service. After selling Zip2 to Compaq for $307 million in 1990, he decided to move on to a bigger project.
From 2002 to 2003, Musk started Tesla and SpaceX, which both became leaders in their industries. But in 2008, Tesla and SpaceX went under, and he only had enough to save one of the companies. Musk took a risk and decided to preserve both companies. His journey represents ambition and perseverance, which led him to success. Now, Tesla is the most recognizable car brand, and SpaceX is leading the competition for commercial spaceflight.
Musk’s new fame and fart-joke-type humor brought him into the spotlight. With his large fanbase, Musk took to Twitter to crack jokes and promote his growing list of companies. Starting in 2019, Musk took a different turn. He started posting about his interest and support for crypto. Musk was spreading the word that he would start accepting Bitcoin and Dogecoin for certain products and services. In March 2021, Musk announced that he was planning on allowing people to purchase Teslas with Bitcoin, causing the crypto giant to surge 33% in value during that month.
He constantly posted cryptos—Dogecoin, Bitcoin, Ethereum—pushing them to their peaks. Soon enough, the crypto market became larger than country GDPs, and Musk manipulated the market with his tweets. On November 11th, 2021, the crypto market peaked at over $2.97 trillion—worth more than Apple ($2.9 trillion), Microsoft ($2.6 trillion), Google ($2.0 trillion), and Amazon ($1.7 trillion). Bitcoin alone was worth over $1.26 trillion at the time.
Is Musk a Villain? Is he a Dictator?
I had no idea how powerful dictators were until I invested in a company called Didi. Didi, a Chinese ride sharing app like Uber, was leading the ride-hailing market and could have potentially been my most promising investment ever. Unfortunately, I lost most of my money because of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He forced Didi to stop trading on the New York Stock Market with threats and forced Didi to move to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. His influence scares Chinese companies and allows him to take advantage of them.
I’ve learned from my mistake of investing in a company from a dictator-run country. But what about investing in American companies? If Musk has similar influence that Xi Jinping has, is that a good thing? Could Musk be trying to become a world leader through his influence? While Tesla became the largest auto company, Musk’s net worth followed suit.
Tesla is the largest car company in the world in 2020 and has grown over 10 times in value over the last two years. Now, Musk is the world’s richest man and influences the market with his words. This type of power over the stock market gives him the power similar to those of presidents and dictators. That does make me nervous because his influence lines up with Xi Jinping’s influence capabilities.
What Does His Influence Show About Human Nature?
Humans prefer to follow leaders. It’s in our nature. While we have been living in modern civilization for hundreds of years, our evolution dates back to six million years ago when we relied on sticks and stones. Now we live in an era with instant and widespread communication. All of humanity can connect through social media and follow influencers.
Musk’s strategy of posting internet jokes and appealing to the internet has led him to dominion. According to Newsweek, “On December 20, the billionaire tweeted ‘One word: Doge,’ driving Dogecoin shares up almost 20 percent and making the term a trending topic on Twitter…The tech leader’s viral attention on Dogecoin continued on February 4, when he posted a series of tweets throughout the night and pushed Dogecoin’s value up by more than 50 percent.” While Dogecoin was not going to maintain itself, it grew to almost $100 billion. Dogecoin’s peak shows how much power Musk has at hand.
Last year, the internet—TikTok especially—became crypto-central, where one in every four posts was about investment picks, strategies, or trying to guess when Musk would tweet about Dogecoin. People liked the idea of investing in crypto because crypto didn’t look like it was ever going to stop growing. Now, crypto still has not recovered.
Musk appealed to the internet by selling flamethrowers and launching a Tesla car into space. He gained a large following from his stunts and continues to own the spotlight, but how long will he be able to maintain it? What happens to the crypto market if he loses this spotlight?