On October 26, 2022, Elon Musk’s first official day as owner and CEO of Twitter, there were already warning signs that he might not be the savior the social media company was hoping for. Ta.
It’s true his promise “Software engineering, server operations, and design will rule the roost,” Musk said in his first meeting with several of Twitter’s top engineers.
But during the presentation, Musk pulled out his phone and announced he needed to tweet something. As they later learned, emergency tweet It was a video of Musk carrying a porcelain sink into the lobby of Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, with the text: “Enter Twitter HQ — let’s sink it!”
Kurt Wagner writes in his new book, The Battle for the Birds: Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and the $44 Billion Battle for the Soul of Twitter (Atria Books), released February 20th. He wrote that Musk’s father’s joke was a harbinger of things to come. More than a year after the $44 billion acquisition, Mr. Musk has managed to embroil the platform in a series of controversies that cost it billions of dollars in advertising revenue and caused the tech giant’s value to plummet by 71%. All this from a man who once claimed that if we didn’t rush to save Twitter, its collapse would be “dangerous to the future of civilization.”
Wagner isn’t the only author to explore how Musk caused so much chaos on Twitter. “Extreme Hardcore: Inside Elon Musk’s Twitter” by Zoe Schiffer (on sale February 13th) and “Breaking Twitter: Elon Musk and the Most Controversial Corporate Takeovers of All Time” by Ben Mezrich (on sale now) ) have also attempted to analyze how this is done. An entrepreneur hailed for his “revolutionary” ideas was able to pull off such an impressive feat on Twitter.
Among Twitter staffers at least, Musk “had a way of charming people, even those who had decided not to like him,” Wagner wrote. “Most importantly, he had the skill to say what people wanted to hear.”
In his first weeks on the job, Musk’s idealism was contagious. He seemed to seriously believe that saving Twitter was critical to the future of humanity. “The more we can increase trust in Twitter as a public platform, the less risk there is to civilization,” Musk quipped in one speech. TED2022 Conference.
But over time, it became clear to new employees that Mr. Musk knew nothing about how to run a social media company. His understanding of Twitter was “almost entirely colored by his own experiences as a user, which is far from the norm considering he’s a billionaire with more than 110 million followers.” “It was a thing,” Wagner wrote.
In his first week in office, Musk sent out a series of tweets promising a more relaxed approach to field enforcement. He added, “Anyone suspended for minor and questionable reasons will be released from Twitter jail.” he wrote. Later that same day, Musk declared:Comedy is now legal on Twitter”
It didn’t lead to a surge of hilarious one-liners tweets. Instead, “across multiple languages, he saw a 1,300% increase in users tweeting the N-word on Twitter,” Wagner wrote.Anti-Defamation League I realized something big Anti-Semitic tweets are on the rise.
All of this has made advertisers nervous, and it’s easy to see why. The NFL, which had a content partnership with Twitter in 2013, “didn’t want touchdown celebrations to appear alongside Nazi tweets,” Wagner wrote.
Mr. Musk has shown enough business savvy to lead many to believe he can lead Twitter into the future, and he has built a portfolio of some of the world’s biggest (and most risk-averse) brands, including General Electric, Mastercard, NBC, and Ford. I planned a video call with the company. Musk “said all the right things,” Wagner wrote, and promised that “the questionable tweets will not be shown to many people.”
The smooth passage did not last long. Mr. Musk soon tweeted that civil rights activists who oppose hate speech on Twitter said,trying to destroy free speech in Americathreaten “”Thermonuclear name and shame” of advertisers who left the platform.
Not long after his “thermonuclear” tweet, more Twitter advertisers began fleeing the site, including United Airlines, REI, and Volkswagen. Musk “seems not yet to understand that his own actions still matter,” Wagner wrote.
“We don’t want to go to war with advertisers,” Wheeler warned. “Oh, I’m going to war,” Musk replied. “And I win war. ”
It wasn’t the last time Mr. Musk put those ideals on hold if it meant protecting his own interests (and ego). Even though he deactivated his Twitter account @ElonJet, which tracked his flight travels in real time. claim He said he would defend it to demonstrate his “commitment to free speech.” Although he promised advertisers that he would not unban or suspend their accounts without consulting his advisory board, he actually did the opposite. Recover Donald Trump’s account (Based on user surveys) It then did the same to Kanye West, banning him again a few days later for tweeting with a swastika. (“I did my best,” he provided Explaining. )
Twitter Blue, Musk’s biggest mistake, was a bad idea from the beginning.Mr. Musk was confident that this would weed out bot accounts — trolls would never pay $8 a month for a verified badge, he reasoned — and told journalists, “ It would also eliminate the system created by Twitter to give people higher status and more power. [Musk] They took it for granted,” Wagner wrote.
Scammers took over almost immediately, even targeting Musk personally. A blue check account named @TeslaReal posted that all Tesla cars would be “immediately rendered inoperable” and posted a photo of Musk posing next to convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell. She shared it with the caption, “Post of gratitude to amazing founders.”
If Mr. Musk understood the damage done, he held his cards close to his chest. “That’s the day!” Mr. Musk tweeted After the debut of Twitter Blue. “There are some very funny tweets.”
“There’s still a chance that Mr. Musk can turn everything around,” Wagner wrote. After all, he had done the same thing at other companies. tesla and rocket maker SpaceX. Twitter (the “X” when Twitter was rebranded last summer) may be “just the beginning of his next great comeback story,” Wagner wrote. That’s certainly possible, but only if Mr. Musk can stop being his own worst enemy.
In November, he shared a blatantly anti-Semitic tweet shortly after the Hamas attack on Israel, adding:you told the truth” This backlash was both predictable and ironic given the banning of Mr. Ye for anti-Semitism, and many more ads, including Apple, IBM, Disney, and several other big brands. Lord escaped from the platform (soon afterwards he was to depart on an apology tour to Israel and Auschwitz).
There were so many failures that it’s debatable how Musk ultimately got it wrong. As Mezrich reported on Breaking Twitter, former Twitter executive Esther Crawford said Musk had “surrounded himself with the wrong people” who fueled Musk’s erratic behavior and “further damaged his reputation.” I suspected that he had hurt her.
Another former Twitter employee, who declined to be named, told Schiffer in his book Extreme Hardcore that Musk was “a lot more understandable if you had a younger brother who invented the game and added new rules every time you started losing.” It’s easy,” he said. ”
But perhaps the best take on why Twitter (sorry, Mr. X) faces an uncertain future comes from Kimbal, Musk’s younger brother and one of his most ardent supporters. Kimbal was so embarrassed by Musk’s tweets that he chose to unfollow him.
“The big elephant in the room is that he was acting like a kingly idiot,” Kimbal said jokingly.