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Solar City IPO raises $92 million but doesn't deliver Chairman Elon Musk a great year

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Elon Musk speaks onstage in Los Angeles. A $1 billion valuation for Solar City after its IPO would have been the perfect way to top off a great year.

Elon Musk almost had a truly great year. The CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX saw Tesla's Model S sedan named Motor Trend's Car of the Year and the Dragon capsule successfully rendezvous with the International Space Station and splash down in the Pacific twice.

And I named the visionary entrepreneur the DeBord Report 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year!

Musk is also Chairman of Solar City, the San Mateo-based solar panel installation and leasing startup. Solar City staged an initial public offering Thursday. That should have been icing on Musk's 2012 cake (the company is run by two of his cousins, while he's one of the main investors). But it didn't entirely turn out that way.

The IPO wasn’t a disaster for Musk. Solar City raised $92 million in its Wall Street debut and now has a market cap of nearly $600 million. But the offering was priced lower than initially planned: $8 a share, rather than the $13 to $15 that had been announced in the lead up to the IPO. The higher price would have valued the company at a cool billion.

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DeBord Report LA Businessperson of the Year Award goes to...Elon Musk!

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO is the DeBord Report's 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year!

On Tuesday, I announced that today (Thursday) the DeBord Report would be naming its 2012 L.A. Businessperson of the Year. To bring readers into the discussion, we also launched a poll, so that you good folks  could vote for the two candidates:

Former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, who bought the team for $430 million and sold it for...$2 billion!

Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who has created a market for high-end electric cars, opened the era of private space flight, and has declared his intention to retire on Mars.

First the results of the voting: It's Musk by a landslide: 91 percent versus only about 8 percent for McCourt. BUT that's still 8 percent for McCourt! So maybe he isn't as widely loathed as some thought.

One percent chose, as far as I can tell, Mickey Mouse. Someone always has to vote for Mickey Mouse...

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

LAPD Takes Over Security At Dodgers Games After Attack On Giants Fan

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt speaks at a news conference at Dodger Stadium. He bought the team for $430 million and sold it for $2 billion, with a side deal for the parking lots. Is he the greatest businessman L.A. has ever seen?

Tesla Worldwide Debut of Model X

Jordan Strauss/Getty Images for Tesla

Elon Musk has had quite a year. Tesla won Motor Trend's Car of the Year with its all-electric Model S. SpaceX went to International Space Station an kicked off the era of commercial space flight. And then there's the forthcoming Solar City IPO. Is he L.A.'s Businessman of the Year?


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.

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Elon Musk on a roll: First SpaceX succeeds, and now Tesla wins Motor Trend Car of the Year

Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

Tesla workers cheer on one the first Tesla Model S cars sold during a rally at the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif., in June. The luxury all-electric sedan just won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award.

Elon Musk is a on a serious roll.

He's CEO of two companies: SpaceX and Tesla Motors. SpaceX, based near Los Angeles, just completed the first paid commerical resupply mission to the International Space Station. 

The news just broke that Tesla's Model S sedan has won Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. And here's what the publication has to say:

[T]his is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla's electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it's only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.

Indeed. I'm not entirely sure, but I think this may be the first time that a car made in the San Francisco Bay Area has ever won COTY. 

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's rock star press conference after Dragon's splashdown

NASA-SpaceX

NASA TV

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk establishes a whole new image for final frontier.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is officially the hottest chief executive on Planet Earth. His Southern California space-exploration startup just staged the most impressive and successful demonstration of commercial space technology...well, ever.

Launch to splashdown, except for a last-second abort of a weekend blastoff — rectified a few days later — and a brief power outage or communications glitch at SpaceX's Hawthorne HQ, it all went off with nary a miscue. 

Even the hardened space honchos at NASA are probably hoping for ride in Musk's personal Tesla Roadster in the near future (Musk is also CEO of Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker). 

Musk himself followed up the splashdown of the Dragon capsule in the Pacific with a telegenic and sound-bite laden press conference. My tweets of the event, which was carried live on NASA TV, are below. I left out a good one, in which Musk said that what he wanted to say to Dragon, bobbing scorched but intact in the blue ocean after enduring fiery re-entry, was: "Welcome back, baby. It's like seeing your kid come home." 

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