2013's top people in business

Fortune's annual list is filled with executives who defied expectations (buying a newspaper, leaving luxury for Apple), executed big turnarounds, and delivered stellar results for their shareholders.

1.  Elon Musk

elon musk mag
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Tesla, SpaceX, SolarCity

--Cultural impact
--No. 1 revenue gainer
--No. 2 stock price gainer

It is no Secret that Elon Musk is a triple threat: The co-founder of PayPal has gone on to disrupt aeronautics with Space Exploration Technologies, known as SpaceX; shake up the auto business with Tesla Motors (TSLA); and retool the energy sector with SolarCity (SCTY). (He is CEO of the first two companies and chairman and largest shareholder of the third.) But 2013 was an especially notable year for Musk, as investors and consumers wholeheartedly embraced his ideas and vision. After a rocky start a decade ago, Tesla has emerged to become the world's most prominent maker of all-electric cars. Revenue at Tesla is up more than 12-fold for the first three quarters of the year, and the company is on track to top $2 billion in sales in 2013. The stock is up more than fourfold year to date, and that's after giving back some gains when recent vehicle sales missed some analysts' estimates. (A series of troubling car battery fires has not helped.) And just as SpaceX has helped reignite interest in space exploration, Musk's plans for a "hyperloop" between San Francisco and Los Angeles got Americans buzzing about ultra-high-speed transit when Musk released his design plans in August. Musk's creations have already made him tremendously wealthy -- Bloomberg Wealth says he is worth $7.7 billion -- but it is his audacity and tenacity that make him Fortune's Businessperson of the Year.

--Adam Lashinsky

See also: The shared genius of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs

Profiles written by Scott Cendrowski, Geoff Colvin, Miguel Helft, Beth Kowitt, Adam Lashinsky, JP Mangalindan, Stephanie N. Mehta, Patricia Sellers, and Alex Taylor III
  @FortuneMagazine - Last updated November 21 2013 01:32 PM ET
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