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The Year in Numbers: Musk, memes and crypto

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  • Elon Musk
    Elon Musk
    South African–born American entrepreneur

From meme stock mayhem, to cryptocurrency chaos... and Elon Musk everywhere you look, this is the Year in Numbers.

2,500% was the gain for shares in GameStop back in January amid frenzied trading in so-called 'meme stocks'. It's given up much of those gains, but will still end 2021 massively higher than it began. Investors wait to see if retail investors on Reddit continue to drive markets in 2022... or if boring things like cash flow and profits come back into fashion.

$1 trillion was the market value hit by Tesla this year, joining Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet in passing that level. Founder Elon Musk appeared to be everywhere, roiling cryptocurrency markets with random comments, selling billions of dollars of his shares, and popping up as Time magazine's person of the year.

"We must be inspired about the future. And don't forget to have children, that's important."

Over 12,000% was the the gain for dogecoin by May, with rival meme-coin shiba inu also soaring at one point, though both later gave up much of their gains. Amid wild volatility, not always entirely due to Musk, bitcoin remained the king of e-coins. Over the year it hit new record levels more than once.

Nearly $70 million was the price for a digital creation by U.S. artist Beeple. It was sold as a so-called non-fungible token, and the market for such digital assets has exploded. In the third quarter NFT sales soared to $10.7 billion, up over eightfold on the previous three months.

And around 23% was the gain for the Nasdaq this year. Besides meme stocks it was a case of winner-takes-almost-all. About two thirds of the gains were accounted for by just five stocks - Microsoft, Google, Apple, Nvidia and Tesla. Chinese stocks slumped though, amid a crackdown on its tech titans.

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