Another day, another mad thing Elon Musk has done. Less than two months after officially taking over as CEO of the social media platform Twitter, Musk has said that he will resign the position.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” Musk wrote on the site on Wednesday. “After that, I will just run the software & servers teams”.
The statement is in response to a poll he conducted on Twitter, asking users whether he should “step down” as head of Twitter. “I will abide by the results of this poll,” he wrote.
The poll, which had more than 17.5 million votes, returned a majority ‘yes’ vote, with 57.5% of the respondents responding in the affirmative.
I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 21, 2022
The embattled billionaire, who has struggled to maintain the social media service used by some 436 million people, went silent on the platform after the polling indicated that people wanted him to leave.
While he’s normally perpetually online, he stopped tweeting for several hours until responding “interesting” to a number of reports that the voting on his poll was skewed by bots and fake accounts.
Eventually, he responded to one user’s suggestion that “blue subscribers should be the only ones that can vote in policy-related polls,” saying “good point. Twitter will make that change.”
Blue subscribers are those that think paying USD$8 per month for a Twitter premium account is a good idea, or USD$11 per month if you’re an iPhone user. Essentially, it would be his biggest fans who get to decide what happens to the platform.
“As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it,” Musk tweeted in the aftermath of the poll.
elon musk running twitter has the same vibes as the bossy kid at recess that keeps changing the rules of the game he made up because he's losing
— Ted Nivison (@TedNivison) December 19, 2022
It’s not yet clear who will take over as Twitter CEO, although Musk has reportedly been looking for a replacement for some time, having appeared to not enjoy the role. One potential candidate is Lex Fridman, a research scientist at MIT, who pitched for the role on the platform.
“Let me run Twitter for a bit. No salary. All in. Focus on great engineering and increasing the amount of love in the world. Just offering my help in the unlikely case it’s useful,” the podcast host with 2.4 million followers wrote to Musk.
“You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?” Musk replied. Fridman responded that he would, although Musk did not reply.
Whoever does take over will need to do some serious turning around indeed. Since Musk’s takeover, tens of thousands of accounts have left the platform for other social media sites. To stem the flow of users from Twitter, the platform began indiscriminately banning users for tweeting their accounts on other platforms, including a number of journalists who voiced criticisms of Musk.
Musk also fired thousands of Twitter employees, roughly 50% of its workforce, and gave ultimatums to remaining staff that hard work, longer hours, and a reduction in office perks would be implemented. The swift move was in breach of labour laws and has resulted in class action lawsuits.
Before he steps down I’d just like to thank Elon Musk for shattering the myth that billionaires are smarter, more hard working, or simply any better than anyone else in the most public way imaginable.
— Read Jackson Rising by @CooperationJXN (@JoshuaPHilll) December 19, 2022
Advertisers have also fled the platform ever since the Twitter Blue debacle, in which Musk allowed anyone to get a blue ‘verified’ badge for USD$8, leading to a raft of accounts impersonating famous people and companies. There have also been reports of hate speech increasing on the site, with many previously-suspended far-right accounts having their accounts reinstated on the platform. Musk himself made a joke about trans people, taking aim at America’s Chief Medical Officer, Anthony Fauci, which he refused to apologise for.
Musk, who runs multiple companies, including Tesla and SpaceX, has received backlash from all sides for his dabbling in social media. Tesla’s stock price has dropped 65% since the start of the year as shareholders react to his decision to pull talent and focus from his other endeavours.
USD$44 billion was the price Musk ended up paying for Twitter, a decision that appears to have pleased no one, not least of all himself. This may be the most expensive self-own in the history of humanity.