Elon Musk’s dealings with Twitter are destroying his image as a business genius

Since Elon Musk took over the leadership of Twitter, the short message service has gone haywire. A new report shows just how wild it really is behind the scenes. This also affects Musk’s other companies.

It was a reputation few businessmen in the world have. When Elon Musk commented on topics such as artificial intelligence, sustainability or mankind’s path into space, he was sure to attract attention. Everything the multi-billionaire touched seemed to turn into a success. But since the Twitter takeover, the image has been crumbling enormously. And now the effects are being felt at Musk’s other companies as well.

It has been known for years that Musk is an extreme person. He thinks fast and big, and is willing to test his own limits. Again and again he made headlines. For example, because he slept in one of his factories – and expected the same from his employees. And: For a long time he was able to counter criticism of his sometimes bizarre behavior with his successes. SpaceX or Tesla really managed to move their respective industries forward. Since the Twitter takeover, many observers have been wondering: Was it really Musk’s fault?

Guide with the sledgehammer

One reason for this is the numerous reports about Musk’s behavior on Twitter. The new boss had been happy to share his thoughts via the short message service for years, from concrete ideas to obvious troll attempts. According to insider reports, he doesn’t seem to be doing any better behind the scenes of his $44 billion acquisition.

This is shown, for example, by a detailed report by the “Washington Post”. Musk has therefore set up with his team on the tenth floor of the Twitter headquarters and only receives selected visitors. After waiting for hours, guests are instructed to only speak to him when he speaks to them. And so some are said to have only watched him watching YouTube videos.

The employees quoted by the newspaper are correspondingly frustrated. Musk simply does not understand the business of the short message service, according to several complaints. “He never sees the big picture,” complains one. Instead, Musk sees the social network only as a programming challenge, spending most of his work there with small-scale changes to the operation or trying to load the pages faster.

Public mud fight

He doesn’t seem to want to perceive the effect on the outside – not even if it could have legal consequences. After Musk had fired virtually all moderation on Twitter in the name of freedom of expression, various states and organizations such as the EU warned that legal obligations could not be implemented as a result. When an executive pointed out to Musk about the company’s commitments to the US Trade Commission, he was only told not to worry. Minutes after the meeting, an email was asked for details of the agreement between the FTC and Twitter, he told the Post.

The biggest problem is that Musk sees himself as part of a culture war on Twitter, several employees agree. Musk presents himself as an advocate of radical freedom of expression, and even sees warnings about false reports as an unjustified restriction. Accordingly, in recent weeks he has thrown himself into the so-called “Twitter Files”, which are intended to prove an alleged conspiracy by the former Twitter leadership in moderating content. The Twitter employees reacted with irritation, also because Musk apparently wanted to give the journalist Bari Weiss “completely unrestricted access” to all internal data. Because she should also read direct messages between users, that would not only be a deep invasion of privacy, but also a violation of legal requirements.

“Witch hunt in Elon Musk’s name”

Musk’s response to this does not improve the situation. Employees complain that his team is highly aggressive in gaining access to everything. “But they’re just using it for a witch hunt on Elon’s behalf. That’s how they want to find people who will talk about him and then fire them,” a source told the Post. Musk does little to dispel that impression. Again and again he publicly tweeted at former or even active Twitter employees. And denounced their alleged misconduct.

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It shouldn’t help that Musk made more problems for Twitter financially. At the beginning of November, many Musk fans were still hoping that he could make the short message service profitable thanks to his genius despite the fact that the purchase price was far too high, but this impression can hardly be maintained today. Musk’s fight for his version of freedom of expression costs the company billions in advertising revenue, and his idea of ​​a subscription model, which changes from one minute to the next, does not promise a turnaround either. The fact that Musk is rumored to not want to pay rent or travel expenses and is increasingly raising the possibility of Twitter’s insolvency does not make the picture look any better.

A new look at Tesla

A consequence of Musk’s increasingly erratic behavior is likely to be a changing view of people on Tesla. The group’s shareholders are used to the fact that Musk is quite eccentric. Nevertheless, the car manufacturer was rated significantly higher for a long time than the pure profit numbers actually gave it. Part of the stock price has always been the idea that the quirky but ultimately genius boss Musk would take the company to new heights.

This attitude is being shaken by Musk’s lurching course on Twitter. This can also be seen from the constantly falling share price. Musk rightly points out that in addition to Tesla, the rest of the market has also declined in recent months, and companies like Microsoft and Google have also lost. Tesla has slumped even more significantly since joining Twitter: the value of the share has halved since the beginning of November, and the current price is only a quarter of the previous all-time high. If the company’s value continues to fall so sharply, Tesla could even lose its place as the most valuable vehicle manufacturer in the world – and slip behind Toyota.

“Tesla has no CEO”

It also appears that Musk hardly cares about his other companies anymore. “Elon has let Tesla down and Tesla no longer has a CEO who works there,” KoGuan Leo complained on Twitter a week ago. The Indonesian billionaire’s interjection should give Musk food for thought: He is the automaker’s third-largest single shareholder and alone holds around 22 million shares in the automaker.

Elon is like a proud father of the car company, explains Leo. “But Tesla has grown up. Musk is unlikely to like his demand: “We need a doer. Someone like Tim Cook, not Elon.” New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes an even deeper look at Musk. In his new newsletter, he asks, “Did Tesla’s story ever make sense?”

Sources:Washington Post, New York Times, Business Insider

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