Musk wants out. For real this time.
Good morning! Mark Zuckerberg once said of Twitter that it was “such a mess — it’s as if they drove a clown car into a gold mine and fell in.” A man who started a tunneling company might be the one to finally get them out, if only he could manage to get out of his own way.
It was the season finale we all expected. Elon Musk is, of course, trying to back out of his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter and take it private.
From the moment Musk made the offer, there were skeptics. Just a few days earlier, he had withdrawn his commitment to join Twitter’s board. Even amid that turmoil, though, Musk seemed truly interested in seeing the buyout through to the finish line. But when he started mentioning “bots” and “DAUs,” it became increasingly clear that Musk was once again inviting us into the chaos that seems to sustain the world’s richest man on a daily basis.
- For his part, Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal seemed to have a clear idea where this all would head and is prepared for the further madness to come.
- In a statement, Twitter Chair Bret Taylor said the board was “committed to closing the transaction on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk” and was “confident” it would win in court.
It’s just all so stupid. It was easy trying to write off the saga as one that elicited more attention than was likely warranted. Just an attempt by the media and talking heads on TV to capitalize on one of the globe’s most divisive individuals buying what has become a cherished but flawed platform for reporters and pundits alike.
- That theory was only exacerbated by Musk’s innate desire to be talked about on Twitter constantly. It led to a seemingly daily update on his feelings on the deal.
- Suddenly, each morning was some nightmarish version of Groundhog Day where Musk’s musings on the state of negotiations would launch a plethora of stories and analyses all focused on one question: Will Musk actually take Twitter private? Right now, the answer is apparently a no.
But perhaps most disappointing is that Musk could have really helped Twitter. He deserves most, if not all, of the criticism levied at him. He’s an egomaniac who gets a sick enjoyment out of pissing people off over quite heinous things. But Musk is also a visionary. At least, enough of one to earn him an invite to the Met Gala and hobnob with Kris Jenner.
- Of course, Musk accurately predicted the pressing need for electric vehicles and was a central figure in popularizing what is now a staple in the lineup of most carmakers.
- You can argue with the design of the Tesla truck or if it will ever even make it to customers’ hands. But what other car manufacturer is willing to take on even half the level of risk as Tesla?
- And between SpaceX, the Boring Company and now Starlink, which is proving a lifeline for Ukraine in the fight against Russia, Musk is quickly growing an influential government business that only amplifies his power and prestige.
At the same time, he’s pushed worthless tokens to a susceptible audience he knows hangs on his every word, made light of child molestation in an attempt to ruin the reputation of a random man who dared criticize him and reportedly threatened to evict his first wife while she was pregnant.
Still, Twitter could have benefitted from some of the ideas Musk seems to gravitate toward. And while the company may have already been plotting some of them, guidance from the several-times-over CEO-and-founder might have helped Twitter make an even more clean break from the Jack Dorsey days.
- By all accounts, Agrawal is an upstanding leader who truly cares about Twitter, a company that seems full of passionate workers who strive to safely and fairly promote free speech across the globe.
- But despite IT’s continued takeover of everything, it’s rare for a technology expert like Agrawal to make the jump to CEO. Twitter’s board seemingly recognized this and put Bret Taylor, a seasoned executive who is, of course, also co-leading Salesforce, one of the software industry’s standout success stories, in charge.
It wasn’t totally clear the revamped leadership team was willing to make the changes that might help it escape the near-constant scrutiny from investors, even with that appointment.
- What was clear was how quickly Musk’s attention on Twitter forced Agrawal to act. In the time since Musk first expressed his buyout intentions, Twitter has overhauled its executive team, laid off workers, cut spending and outlined important areas of expansion, like long-form content.
We may never know what a Musk-run Twitter would look like. But rest assured, we’ll still keep talking about it. That is, until Musk brings us along to his next series pilot.
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