The Breakdown

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Poll: Who should be LA Businessperson of the Year, Frank McCourt or Elon Musk?

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It's the time of year for year-end lists and … contests! Not to mention awards. For 2012, the DeBord Report will be conducting a simple contest to name L.A.'s Businessperson of the Year.

You can vote on the entrants in the poll below and share your thoughts in the comments, but I'll be making the final call. And so, without further ado, here are the candidates for the DeBord Report's 2012 L.A. Business Person of the Year.

Frank McCourt

The businessman that, for the most part, Angelenos love to hate. The former Dodgers owner made his fortune in parking lots back in Boston before coming west and buying the Boys in Blue from Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp in 2004 for $430 million.

In 2009, the long saga of Frank's divorce from wife Jamie and his subsequent battle with Major League Baseball began. By 2011, McCourt had put the team, then valued at around $750 million, into bankruptcy.

Fighting a divorce battle and the bankruptcy battle didn't seem to faze the parking lot king, as McCourt stared down MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and duked it out with Jamie in court.

He eventually sold the team, after a bidding period this year that attracted everybody who is anybody in aspiring sport-team ownership. Final price? $2 billion, plus a sideline deal that ensured McCourt retained an "economic interest" in the real estate around Dodger Stadium.

In the end, the man stuck to what he knew best: parking lots. But he also quadrupled his initial investment in the Dodgers, in eight years, setting the record for a sports team sale. By the end of the soap opera, the man was reviled. But based simply on the numbers, it's hard to argue that he isn't an incredibly savvy and opportunistic businessman. That's why he's in the running against … 

Elon Musk

The native South African helped found PayPal in the late 1990s and sold it to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. He then invested in a trio of companies: Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Solar City.

Tesla built the first viable long-range, high-performance electric car, the Roadster.

SpaceX pioneered commercial space flight, and this year began flying resupply missions to the International Space Station with a reusable Dragon capsule that splashes down in the Pacific, near SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne.

SolarCity acts a middleman residential solar panel installer, but has also been described as a "financial engineering" firm with solar expertise. It's on the verge of a $10 million IPO, with Musk as chairman (his cousins run the company).

Tesla's Model S sedan was just named Car of the Year by Motor Trend.

Musk is CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, lives in Bel Air and commutes to Tesla HQ in Palo Alto, has an estimated net worth of $2.4 billion, making him one of the richest Angelenos. He was rumored to be the model for Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark in the "Iron Man" and "Avengers" movies. He's  dabbled in producing movies.

He has been married twice and has five sons. His mother, Maye, is a sort of AARP supermodel, appearing recently on the cover of New York Magazine in a purposely doctored and provocative photo (think Demi Moore at 63).

He argues that the human race must become "multiplanetary" and has said that he intends to retire on Mars (after first establishing human colonies on the Red Planet).

By most accounts, he's closely involved the actual design of Tesla's cars and SpaceX's rockets and spacecraft.

If you're looking for a modern day Howard Hughes, this is the guy. He's a 21st century visionary. He's a rock star. But that doesn't mean he's a genius at operating a company:  Tesla has been close to going out of business several times, only to be rescued by business partnerships, investors, and the U.S. government.  

SpaceX wouldn't have been able to do what's its done without NASA's funding. That said, Musk always seems to come through. Tesla's 2010 IPO has held up, and it's only  a matter of time before SpaceX follows Tesla into the public markets.

Two entirely different businessmen. One award. Who will win? Vote in the poll below and check back on Thursday for more.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

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