If he was a man of his word, Elon Musk would step down as president of Twitter, after 10 million users voted for him, thus ending his reign over the company he bought just 53 days ago.
But the pledge in his tweet accompanying the poll, apparently made while relaxing after watching the World Cup final in Doha in the company of Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is sparse on detail. Here’s what we know – and what we don’t – about what’s in store for Twitter:
Musk has had a bad week
Musk’s bad week began with his decision to act against an account that was reporting the movements of his private jet, using a new rule written on the spot to suspend the account. He then suspended the accounts of some high-profile journalists who had written about the uproar, and then banned any promotion of “third-party platforms,” after users began debating where they would go when they left Twitter.
The movements caused an immediate reaction. Preventing people from leaving is hardly a sign of confidence in your ability to persuade them to stay. Users pointed this out Musk himself said in June That: “The acid test for any two competing systems…is which side needs to build a wall to keep people from escaping.”
Musk quickly shifted press commentary and third-party judgment, promising to base any future major changes on the user survey. But the damage appears to have been done.
He had been planning this for a while
The suggestion that Musk would back down did not come out of the blue. “There is an initial explosion of activity that needs post-acquisition to reorganize the company,” he said before a Delaware court last month in testimony defending his $56 billion salary at Tesla. “But then I expect to reduce my time on Twitter.”
Despite this, he insisted, he had no successor in mind, tweet a favor That “those who want power are the ones who don’t deserve it.” However, he has enlisted close confidants to help him oversee Twitter, with venture capitalist allies Jason Calacanis and David Sachs taking on semi-official roles. Both men have a long history of running large companies, with Sachs remaining as chief operating officer of PayPal after Musk was fired as its CEO, and Calacanis building the blogging empire Weblogs Inc, before selling it to AOL.
He has experience as an impractical landlord
The secret to Musk’s success is that he really only runs two of the three big companies he’s CEO of. While Twitter and Tesla employees describe him as frighteningly hands-on, at SpaceX the president and COO, Gwynne Shotwell, oversees day-to-day operations.
She joined in 2002, the same year Musk founded the company, and it’s still her job to implement his vision. These days, that means reassuring NASA that Musk won’t destroy SpaceX in the process of setting Twitter on fire.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson told reporters last week that he asked Shotwell if Twitter would be a “distraction,” and she said it wouldn’t. “I hugged her with a smile on my face, because I know she runs this thing. She runs SpaceX,” Nelson told reporters.
what did you do ‘HassanManagement mean on Twitter?
However, the big question is whether Twitter can be saved by a competent administrator like Shotwell — or if it is too attached to America’s culture wars to manage quietly and properly. Before Musk bought the company, Parag Agrawal was supposed to be exactly this kind of leader, having been promoted from the company’s engineering department to take over after Jack Dorsey left.
But in his short time at the top, Agrawal has learned that, like it or not, running a social network gets you into the political realm.
Whoever replaces Musk will have to deal with the same problems. And since Musk remains very much an owner, and remains embroiled in political sparring, his freedom to deal with these issues independently will be severely curtailed.
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