“Other companies spend money on advertising & manipulating public opinion, Tesla focuses on the product.
I trust the people.”
I’m happy to call him arrogant, and I’d really like to. So I will. The man’s business acumen and candour do not a robust marketing strategy make, and his belief that that’s all it takes is bafflingly hubristic, even for a billionaire who gets called a genius all day. Electrek.co’s Fred Lambert loves responding to Musk’s tweets with pleas to get a new PR team, something that he might well be considering, given recent events.
The briefest, least jargon-ridden explanation for what’s been going on is this: Elon Musk has used Twitter as a platform to do his company’s PR, sway public sentiment on current events (apparently unintentionally) and, most infamously, call a rescue diver a pedophile.
Like with most one-sided, toxic and manipulative relationships, one party decided it was time for the next step, this union had to be codified into history with documents indicating this legal and financial move being signed.
In this case, the move was initiated by Musk, with near-daily share purchases beginning in late January, amassing to 5% of the company by March and becoming the largest shareholder, with a 9% stake, by April.
See this as the act of wooing, letters and gifts and jewels from a young lover to his beloved, accumulating to a worth of about $3 Billion.
The object of Elon’s desire cannot help but take notice: Twitter offers him a seat on the board, asking in return that he own no more than 14.9% of the company’s stock. Soon after, Musk refuses and offers to buy Twitter for $44 Billion.
This is like responding to a first date with a marriage proposal. Twitter, obviously overcome and erratic with emotion, puts a “poison pill” mechanism into place, a safeguard to discount all shares except Musk’s, so that existing stakeholders could expand and dilute Musk’s ownership.
Thus begins the breakup, the separation, the divorce: Elon accuses Twitter of hiding its affairs (the number of fake/spam bot accounts) and calls the deal off, Twitter sues to force him to stay in it, and Elon countersues. A trial date is set for late October.
Cue the sequel to Kramer v Kramer that nobody wanted.
We are unsure of whether it is panic or rediscovered affection that made Elon renew his offer to buy Twitter at the agreed price, which is $54.20 a share, $44 Billion in all.
Speculation has been put forward that this is a delaying tactic, which is likely. He has maintained his distaste for “management” in recently revealed private communications with Twitter’s Parag Agarwal, stating how he doesn’t want ‘”anyone [to] be the boss of anyone.”
Related Articles: Will Elon Musk Control Twitter? | Twitter in Elon Musk’s Hands: What It Means
Another factor playing against him is his deplorably bad press, which is draining the confidence of banks and benefactors to buy and sell the debt incurred by this move.
Yet it is his bad (and good press) that strike me as most interesting:
It’s no secret that Elon Musk is controversial. He will say and tweet things seemingly oblivious to the far-reaching consequences of his actions (see “Pronouns are an esthetic nightmare”), and, in the same breath, will outsource international conflict resolution via a poll on Twitter.
– Redo elections of annexed regions under UN supervision. Russia leaves if that is will of the people.
– Crimea formally part of Russia, as it has been since 1783 (until Khrushchev’s mistake).
– Water supply to Crimea assured.
– Ukraine remains neutral.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 3, 2022
He has been openly right-leaning in his political opinions, during these few months of financial dealings with Twitter, and has called Twitter’s decision to ban Donald Trump “foolish in the extreme.” The self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” has also said that he is “giving serious thought” to a more open source and balanced alternative to Twitter — while still looking to purchase Twitter.
The musings of a tech prodigy and suspected egomaniac, however, aren’t all that impactful.
What does make for real, indubitable change in public opinion is less one tweet here or there, and more the underlying narrative.
Consider that Elon Musk has been responsible for creating a whole new breed of people who have bought into every outlandish statement he has put out into the world because we all, at some level, believe that he is saving the world. Forgive me but I feel the need to remind you of his beautifully simplistic interview manner where his solutions to multi-generational problems appear disarmingly obvious — for example, his description of solving Los Angeles’ traffic problem and not getting building permissions by saying how he just “dug a hole.” The man makes the world’s best electric cars, for pete’s sake!
He must be good, otherwise why would he work so hard to solar power his gigafactory, or aim to make his electric cars more accessible to all income levels?
It’s not all that hard to realise that sustainability makes for a great USP and that populism in America doesn’t have to be so…Trumpian. He’s taken the Trump playbook and made it more personable. His ways of integrating his belief systems into yours are far more subtle and nuanced. He take the ‘everyman who tells it like it is’ schtick from Trump and adds scientific objectivity and brevity, with the aforementioned simplicity, which can sometimes be just plain reductive.
What’s harmful here is the paradigm shift, from saving the world with technology and innovation, to saving the world on the basis of ideology and politics. He hasn’t stopped being the CEO of Tesla, but he’s started being a massively influential political voice and that is beginning to obscure the big picture for the world.
Musk is hurting the climate change debate by no longer being a participant in it and I, for one, find that unacceptable and selfish. Perhaps this is a minority view for now, but surely it is growing and could become a majority view some day. That’s something he should take into account.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: Elon Musk, the probable new owner of Twitter, currently locked in a legal battle with the platform. Featured Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.