(Photo courtesy of CNN) “Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has led to chaos on the website.”
Few men are as heavily disliked by the public as Elon Musk. Few deals have ever been as heavily mocked by the public as the 44-billion-dollar buyout by Elon Musk of the social media company Twitter. The CEO of Tesla and SpaceX concluded the deal in October of this year, and since he did that, it has been nothing but insanity.
In April 2022, Musk had become, with a 9.1% ownership, the company’s largest shareholder. Twitter then made a decision that would doom it to the dark underworld forever- they invited Musk to join its board of directors. At first, Musk accepted. Then he declined. But then Musk changed his mind – he made a 43 billion offer to fully purchase the company with the intentions of taking it private. Twitter panicked and on April 15th, they implemented a poison pill strategy to prevent a hostile takeover from Musk. On April 25th, the board of directors accepted a buyout offer of 44 billion.
People were now confused. There was now an official agreement, and it seemed like Musk was going to finally take the company to the checkout counter. But Musk then told the cashier that he wasn’t going to buy. This time, he decided to terminate the agreement he made with Twitter. His reasons? Twitter was supposed to crack down on spambots and dismiss some executives Musk didn’t like prior to his takeover, and he didn’t feel like they lived up to that. Twitter had enough at that point and filed a lawsuit against him for trying to weasel his way out of a legal agreement that he signed in full knowledge. A trial was even scheduled for October 17th, but Musk finally announced he would move forward with the acquisition. On October 27th, Musk immediately became the new owner of Twitter, Inc. The way Twitter was bought being a mess was one reason this is all disastrous, but the aftermath completely solidified it.
Even before this acquisition, Musk wasn’t the most popular guy, which is a huge factor in what is happening with the platform. Not to say billionaires aren’t generally disliked these days, but unlike Jay-Z and Mark Cuban, who try to at least help others and have some intelligence, Musk is a personality cult leader on Twitter who heavy relies on his engineers to carry the actual scientific load for him. Twitter has mercilessly mocked him, and who can blame them? Among his many offenses include spreading disinformation online, mocking pronouns, mocking the man who helped the trapped Thai schoolboys in the cave in 2014 by calling him a pedophile with no evidence and being criticized for promoting an unsafe environment for women at Tesla.
Following the example he set for himself above, and much to Twitter’s chagrin, Musk made bad decisions. He started the company’s death spiral by firing three executives and former CEO, Parag Agrawal, and making himself the new CEO. Then came the employee treatment. Musk ended the work from home order and laid off almost half of the company’s workforce. In an article fittingly entitled “Elon Musk just showed us how not to fire people”, columnist Michelle Singletary from the Washington Post wrote “The trifling way [the company] dismissed employees was akin to breaking up with someone over a text message. It was disrespectful and insensitive. It demonstrated a blatant lack of empathy.”
And how true that line is! The media reports employees were logged out of work emails without warning, without any comment from Musk and without prior notice they’ve been let go, and the company also then, in a moment of secondhand embarrassment, tried to rehire some workers. Because of course you’ll suffer letting go of half your workforce without any backup plan.
The death spiral of the company is continuing but as of this article being written, the latest is the failing implementation of Twitter Blue. Musk said that for 8 dollars, you can get the blue check that verified officials on Twitter usually have for free. The idea was, prior to implementation, met with immediate backlash. Many correctly said that it would lead to people spreading misinformation more than they already do by pretending to be government officials. It was also a terrible idea to make people pay for social media. It would defeat the original idea behind verification. After the implementation, as if on cue, users immediately started pretending to be celebrities, companies and other notable people.
With some tremendous luck, and the luck must be of the magnitude that a 0.5 GPA high school student wishing to get into Harvard may need, maybe Twitter can be saved. Maybe by some miracle everything will turn out fine, but don’t count on it. Megalomaniac billionaires don’t exactly have a track record of keeping things intact.