On Monday, Elon Musk wrenched Twitter into the news again, this time with a poll. “Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll,” he said in a tweet, attached to a Yes or No poll.
For anyone versed with Elon Musk’s behaviour to the smallest degree will know that there is something almost predictable to his erraticism. Ever since he acquired Twitter, the microblogging site has gone through a series of ups and downs.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
But after major firings and policy upheavals, the question today is: ‘Will Musk really quit if the poll says so?’
The answer is complicated.
The way he has dealt with Twitter so far is a repeat of his Tesla workings, according to reports.
According to New York Times, in 2018, just as Musk claims now for Twitter, he had lamented that Tesla was on the verge of bankruptcy.
The billionaire’s experience with Tesla’s “production hell” has served as a model for the crisis he has created at Twitter, which he purchased for $44 billion.
Musk has developed a playbook for managing his companies, including Tesla and the rocket manufacturer SpaceX, through periods of pain, employing shock treatment and alarmism, and pushing his employees and himself to put aside their families and friends in order to devote all of their energy to his mission, the report said.
Musk has laid off half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees and accepted 1,200 or more resignations. The report further explains that the tech mogul is using mission-driven language, telling Twitter employees that if he doesn’t turn things around, the company will go bankrupt.
Now, Musk seems to be creating ‘existential circumstances’. And according to David Deak, who worked as a senior engineering manager overseeing a supply chain for battery materials at Tesla from 2014 to 2016, he thrives in such circumstances.
“He quasi creates them to light the fire under everybody,” Deak told the New York Times.
The Poll Pattern
Ever since his takeover, Musk has espoused ‘free speech’ and giving power to people’s opinions on how things should be run.
This, put alongside his own erratic trials, has resulted in a constant back and forth of Twitter’s new policies.
His most recent poll was on whether the journalists, whose accounts he had suspended claiming to have been ‘doxxed’ by them, should get their Twitter access back.
When people voted YES, Musk followed.
However, this is not to say that Musk will follow through on the people’s voice (if it’s a Yes) in this case. Right after publishing that poll almost seven hours ago (at the time of writing this report), he has also sent out a series of cryptic tweets:
Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 19, 2022
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
Responding to a tweet from MIT artificial intelligence researcher Lex Fridman on Sunday, Musk hinted that he hasn’t been completely satisfied with his new job.
“You must enjoy a lot of pain,” Musk tweeted, noting that the company “has been on the fast track to bankruptcy since May.”
Musk, however, denied having a new CEO in mind.
“No one wants the job of keeping Twitter alive. “There is no successor,” Musk wrote on Twitter. “The issue isn’t finding a CEO; it’s finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”
Twitter is Not Musk’s Only Job
Remaking Twitter is only a part-time job for Musk.
He remains CEO of Tesla, which he said in court he would continue to lead, and SpaceX, where he said he focuses on rocket design rather than management.
Musk is also the founder and CEO of the Boring Company, a tunnelling startup, and Neuralink, a brain-computer interface technology company.
He has stated that his long-term goal is to save humanity by developing space travel technology, or, as he puts it, “making life multiplanetary in order to ensure the long-term survival of consciousness.”
The multitasking has become an issue in a lawsuit filed by Tesla shareholders who were unhappy with Musk’s pay package, which made him the world’s richest person.
Under questioning in Delaware by a lawyer representing shareholders who have accused Musk of neglecting his duties at Tesla, the billionaire stated that his intense involvement in Twitter was only temporary.
“There was an initial burst of activity to reorganise the company,” he explained, adding, “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter.”
With inputs from the New York Times
Read all the Latest Explainers here