Elon Musk is just unbelievably bad at this!

I am so tired of all the Elon Musk obsession on twitter.  Honestly, the only difference I’ve noticed on twitter since he took over is that half the damn posts are about him.  That said, it is amazing to be watching a future business school disaster case study in real time.  I’ve never been part of the cult of Musk nor think he’s some amazing genius.  But, still, it really is just amazing how bad he is at this and how much money he’s burning.  Loved Charlie Warzel’s take:

Elon Musk has spent the past 12 years tweeting whatever comes into his mind, often without major negative consequences. That was before he owned the place. Now, less than two weeks after his $44 billion purchase, the world’s richest man is finding that his actions—which recently included tweeting a baseless conspiracy theory to Hillary Clinton about the assault on Paul Pelosi—may actually have consequences. Advertisers are fleeing, the employees remaining after a round of mass layoffs are alienated, and onlookers are completely vexed by a freewheeling approach that has coincided with a rise in hate speech on the platform, among other problems.

Musk’s fans see the billionaire as a visionary, but it’s worth noting that many casual observers—people whose only real understanding of Musk is as the guy who put the fancy electric cars on their streets—have also internalized the heuristic that he is Good at Business and the type of man who spends his waking moments dreaming of how to save humanity from its existential problems. But what the past two weeks demonstrate is that Musk is, at best, a mediocre executive—and undoubtedly a terrible, distracted manager.

Musk is obviously wildly financially successful, and the companies he owns have a reputation for taking futuristic-sounding ideas and dragging them into the present. But what Musk is showing us in real time is the folly of equating financial success with intellect, managerial savvy, and good judgment…

“The advertisers are gone because of his awful tweets,” Webb told me. “There’s no room for debate. He stated his intentions up front. He cared about advertisers and didn’t want them to leave and then he told us they’ve left.” Webb suggested to me that Musk’s now-deleted Paul Pelosi tweet was perhaps the most expensive tweet ever: It may have cost Twitter billions in advertising revenue. Companies including General Mills, Audi, and Pfizer are pulling their marketing from Twitter because they likely don’t want their brands to be associated with anything remotely scandalous. High-level executives—CMO types—are the ones ultimately deciding what these brands spend on Twitter, and “those people are, to a T, conflict-avoidant,” Webb said…

As bad as that sounds, Webb argues that the reality is worse: “What people might not understand is that the advertisers don’t need Twitter. They barely cared about it at all before Musk. The only reason those people cared about Twitter ads is because they had personal relationships with members of Twitter’s marketing team or because there are hundreds of Twitter account reps making them pay. And Elon may have fired those people.” Twitter is much smaller than rivals like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, after all.

With each passing day, Musk seems to be digging a deeper hole. This morning, to the dismay of many brand advertisers who strive to be apolitical, Musk used his 114-million-follower platform to endorse the Republican slate of candidates for tomorrow’s midterm elections. “The dude could’ve napped and saved billions of dollars,” Webb said. “Every decision he’s made has lost him money. It’s astonishing.”

I’m not going to Mastodon anytime soon because other than the excessive amount of Musk tweets, I’m still enjoying all the good takes and information.  I use plenty of other products (though not my pillow!) run by, I’m sure, awful CEO’s.  So, until twitter is awful, you’ll still see me there.  


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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