It’s on. Twitter is calling Elon Musk’s bluff after he officially filed to cancel his own acquisition of the company. In court, Musk will be present. And even though things will only get messier from here, Elon Musk has already made a significant judgment: he lacks the necessary skills to lead Twitter. And that deals his own main mythology a damning blow.
Before we examine the specifics of Musk’s official SEC filing, it’s critical to keep in mind what he has said about the deal and the reasons behind his initial desire to do it. It’s not like the world’s richest man was compelled to buy a relatively small social network. Additionally, Musk’s actions in relation to the deal have been characterized by a great deal of overt trolling. Reasonable people would conclude that he was never serious about it in the first place, which is already inspiring many Musk stans and Twitter haters to invent a 4D-chess story that makes his error appear deliberate. But.
In the hysteria surrounding the Twitter takeover, Musk said a few things that simply cannot be disregarded. That’s because they cut to the core of what made him famous in the first place: his reputation as a visionary, a fearless industrialist, a futurist, and perhaps even the person who would bring about a multiplanetary civilization and climate change.
Yes, he has been working very hard lately to build up a sizable following of right-wing extremists and social reactionaries who are more interested in his trolling than the goals of SpaceX or Tesla. But Musk’s real credibility, if he ever had any, came from leading genuinely enormous and ambitious initiatives to improve the world.
Although he probably didn’t need to, he applied the same passion for saving the world to the Twitter deal:
- The fact that Twitter had turned into a “de facto town square,” according to Musk, and the idea that it’s “really important that people have both the reality and the perception that they’re able to speak freely” are what spurred him to act. (He frequently mentioned “free speech” at this point.)
- Musk claimed that the agreement is not a means of making money while speaking at a TED event. He said things like, “You don’t give a damn about economics, but it’s about the future of civilization.”
- Musk later said, “I want Twitter to contribute to a better, long-lasting civilization where we better understand the nature of reality,” in a speech to Twitter employees.
- “Twitter has incredible potential,” said Musk. I’ll open it up.
These statements stand out above all others because (a) matters pertaining to the future of human life are not typically the subject of trolls, and (b) if you are Elon Musk, who has spent the entirety of his modern career since Tesla cultivating the idea that he is on a mission to save humanity and spread civilization across the stars, the latter should be especially true. Does he frequently tweet stupid memes? Yes. Did he intentionally send a car into space? Sure. However, the goals of his companies are extremely serious. “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy,” is Tesla’s stated mission. Neuralink seeks to create tools that enable paralyzed individuals to “regain independence.” SpaceX, too? Nothing less than “enabling people to live on other planets” is being discussed.
Therefore, Musk has purposefully focused his career on tackling some of the most challenging issues facing humanity. He makes a lot of promises, presents a lot of grand ideas during his keynote speeches. By the way, his effort to save the world gave him one of the biggest and busiest Twitter fan bases. And let’s face it, the man enjoys tweeting. Elon Musk may be the only person in the world who enjoys tweeting more than anyone else, and he has twice been impeached by the US Congress and banned from the site.
Musk did not say, “I want to buy Twitter because I love tweeting and I command an army of users here,” so keep that in mind. He asserted that Twitter was crucial to the advancement of human civilization. Thus, the deal joined the ranks of the Teslas and SpaceXs of the world spiritually.
What sort of obstacles would stand in the way of this man realizing Twitter’s full potential? to guide it and ensure its future success alongside his other businesses? In his SEC filing, he essentially only asserts two things:
Twitter won’t provide him with the information he needs to determine the number of spam bots using the service.
A few employees and some executives at Twitter were let go.
This is flimsy crybaby material.
For a while now, Musk has been harping on about the alleged bot problem, even engaging in public arguments with the Twitter CEO about it. The TL;DR is that Musk wants to scuttle a major deal over a problem that every social media company in the world is aware of and has spent a significant amount of money trying to fix over many years. I won’t go into the details of this whole spat because the Delaware Court of Chancery is about to examine that in some detail. It’s just a fundamentally irresponsible stance coming from a man who is eager to address global issues like climate change.
However, let’s make the fun assumption that Musk is correct. The bot population on Twitter is more like 20% than 5 percent, he discovered after starting the deal, looking inside, and outlining his plans for the staff. Then what? When Facebook and TikTok are billions of users ahead of you, what does a user base of 90 million mean? How is giving up Twitter going to help you fight Mark Zuckerberg if you believe that he is an unelected tyrant of speech? And why do you claim that the revenue from active users is at risk in your SEC filing? That doesn’t seem to be “not caring at all about the economy.” That suggests that you only consider economic factors.
Get real before you say that the deal was blown because a few Twitter executives let go of employees while the company continued to run normally and introduce new features (hi, co-tweeting!). You’re spending $44 billion to acquire Twitter. It is now yours. If you choose, you can organize your affairs and undo each of the foolish choices that initially put the platform in your sights. Nobody can prevent you! Even stopping your tweeting proved impossible for the SEC!
The reasons Musk put himself, Twitter, and the entire world through this charade are subject to a variety of theories. However, Musk ultimately wrote a check that his myth was unable to cash.
There are only two options left. Either Musk isn’t the world-changing force people claim him to be, or he doesn’t believe he can carry out the task he promised at Twitter. Or he was exaggerating the lofty ideals and visions that helped him build his businesses and his reputation.