Elon Musk’s Twitter blues: from losing Tesla stock to backtracking on verification - is he really a genius?
There’s a documentary that will broadcast on BBC Two at one in the morning tomorrow (Thursday 10 November) on billionaire Elon Musk. In the various promotional clips being played across the channel, one of the contributors states that she believes the new Twitter chief is ‘smarter than Einstein.’ You don’t need me to tell you that is a big statement.
There are questions over how the Tesla CEO made his money, but he is irrefutably the richest man in the world. He had and does have his fingers in a lot of pies. Despite this, it appears to be a very interesting time for the multi-billionaire.
On top of the early significant teething problems at Twitter, today (9 November) it emerged that Musk has sold another 19.5 million shares of Tesla, worth £3.4 billion. Tesla’s share price has fallen by over 50% since the start of this year, there are significant recall notices for their cars and Musk’s fortune has reportedly dropped below £200 billion. Musk has had to do this following his purchase of the social media platform, which was forced through following legal action by the company and which itself is financially struggling - reportedly losing up to $4 million a day.
In addition to that, numerous famous people and everyday users are migrating from Musk’s new purchase, to other sites such as Mastodon. Famous people aren’t the be all and end all to a social media platform’s success of course, but they are a unique selling point to the site over other less personable platforms such as Facebook. It also weakens the free speech element Musk is apparently craving.
What’s more, it appears that ‘new’ Twitter is in a race with the UK government this year to perform the most number of U-turns in 365 days. After already reportedly asking people previously sacked to return to the company once their importance was realised, there were claims that another U-turn was in the offing.
The flagship service charge that was first promoted when Musk purchased Twitter - introducing verification for all users who pay a fee of $8 a month, looks to have had a significant change. Rumours suggest that Twitter will introduce an "Official" label for select verified accounts including major media outlets and governments when it launches its new $8 premium subscription product (this feature looks to already be in place for some users already). Essentially, paying for a blue tick doesn’t make you ‘official.’ A cynic would suggest that it’s all just one elaborate short-term money-making scheme. Maybe we are witnessing the next Einstein?
Now it must be said that Twitter isn’t the only social media platform that appears to be struggling and satisfying all its stakeholders. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, today announced that they would be cutting 11,000 jobs - approximately 13% of its workforce, citing difficult post-pandemic conditions. But that is nowhere near the 50% that Twitter let go of last week.
No one expected Musk’s purchase of Twitter to be a quiet affair. But there’s been a lot of talk and not much action so far.