The many promises of Elon Musk
Photo: Eden Pictures/Flickr

The many promises of Elon Musk

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Good morning! Elon Musk tweets a lot of outlandish promises. But how often does he follow through on them? I’m Nat Rubio-Licht, and I spent this weekend watching people play Dungeons & Dragons … and then playing Dungeons & Dragons myself.

With much tweeting comes much responsibility

While some might consider having 79 million Twitter followers a big responsibility, Elon Musk seems to tweet whatever he wants without any thought to the consequences. And his followers listen: Each tweet garners thousands of likes, retweets and replies.

Over the weekend, Musk indicated he might launch a social network — or, at the very least, wouldn’t rule it out. “Am giving serious thought to this,” he replied to someone who asked whether he’d consider building a rival platform. Musk had earlier criticized Twitter.

Musk has a track record of saying wild things on Twitter. And the idea of building a new social network isn't as wild as some of the other big plans he’s floated to his audience.

But how often do Musk’s tweeted promises become reality? About as often as you’d think.

  • Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Musk challenged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to hand-to-hand combat. As far as we know, Putin has not taken Musk up on this offer.
  • Musk revealed that SpaceX was getting into carbon capture technology. There hasn’t been an update on this concept since his December tweet, but he did follow through on his tweet saying he’d donate “$100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology.”
  • He tweeted last year that SpaceX would be landing starships on Mars “well before” 2030. In 2018, he said 2022 would be the year SpaceX launched two cargo ships to Mars, and 2024 would be the year the company took people there.
  • And who could forget when Musk attempted to play Tony Stark to try to help rescue a Thai youth soccer team trapped in a cave?

Sometimes, though, he follows through. When Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister of Ukraine and its minister of Digital Transformation, asked Musk to bolster Starlink internet service in the country, Musk responded that Starlink services had been activated in Ukraine and terminals were “en route.”

  • Terminals to operate the service arrived March 1, with a second shipment arriving March 9 that also included power adapters for car cigarette lighters, solar and battery packs and generators. More than 5,000 Starlink terminals are now active in the country.

It’s not often that the CEO of a company uses Twitter as a personal platform to talk about anything in the world. And because Tesla axed its press team in 2020, Musk’s tweets are often the only window the average person can get into the inner workings of his companies. But after tweeting in 2018 that he could take Tesla private without filing needed regulatory notices, he made an agreement with regulators requiring that he get his tweets preapproved — a deal that he'd now like to roll back. While debate was swirled about whether he sticks to that rule, maybe it would be better for all of us if the SEC stood firm on this one. As for the new social network? We'll believe it when we see it.

— Nat Rubio-Licht (email | twitter)

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People are talking

Microsoft's Charlie Bell said the metaverse should better protect users from bad actors:

  • “Picture what phishing could look like in the metaverse — it won’t be a fake email from your bank. It could be an avatar of a teller in a virtual bank lobby asking for your information.”

Fixing sexism in gaming involves both the games and the companies that make them, Anita Sarkeesian said:

  • "This industry is drowning in trauma, abuse and harassment. Workers are being mistreated. They're being abused and harassed by people who hold power over them, by their communities and by their fans."

Margrethe Vestager said a deal to get tech platforms to better monitor content is moving along:

  • "There is a very strong momentum to get things done. And the leadership of the French presidency may allow us to finalize the Digital Services Act before the end of April.”

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou said U.S. pressure has helped the company come together:

  • "We have become more united and our strategy has become clearer.”

Making moves

HP is buying Poly, which creates workplace communications tools like headsets and desk phones, for $1.7 billion.

Bybit and Crypto.com are opening offices in Dubai. Bybit will open its global HQ there, and Crypto.com is setting down a regional hub in the city.

InflectionAI is bringing on some serious AI talent. Reid Hoffman and Mustafa Suleyman are poaching well-known employees from Google and Meta, including DeepMind alums Joe Fenton and Heinrich Kuttler.

Preet Michelson is joining AHEAD as chief people officer. Michelson was previously the managing director of HR at United Airlines.

Michael Stahl is the new SVP of integrated supply chain at Cubic. Stahl has held leadership roles at GKN Aerospace and Honeywell Aerospace, among others.

In other news

Google is complying with Russia’s censorship law. The company won’t let Russian translators use the word “war” when talking about the war in Ukraine.

Apple’s feeling the effects of the war. It’s scaling back production orders of its new iPhone SE by 20% and cutting AirPod orders by 10 million this year.

Uber is working on a partnership with San Francisco taxis. It sounds a lot like the deal Uber struck in New York, which is one part olive branch and one part victory lap for ride-sharing services.

Apple got another fine by a Dutch regulator. It was fined for the 10th time for failing to let dating apps in the Netherlands use third-party payment methods, but Apple just submitted a proposal for complying with the order.

CNN is introducing CNN+, a new subscription service that offers daily live programming, documentaries and other nonfiction shows. It’s also leaning on its audience for new interactive content.

Eric Schmidt has done a lot behind the scenes at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, POLITICO reported. His charity arm helped pay the salaries of two workers, one of whom is now a senior official in the office, raising ethical red flags.

Blue Origin’s latest passengers

Blue Origin is sending six people on its next trip this week. Here’s who’s going:

  • Gary Lai, one of Blue Origin’s first employees. He’s the only non-paying passenger.
  • Marty Allen, the former CEO of Party America.
  • Jim Kitchen, an entrepreneur who teaches students about startups and funding.
  • George Nield, the president and founder of Commercial Space Technologies.
  • Sharon Hagle, the founder of SpaceKids Global.
  • Marc Hagle, who leads a property development firm.

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