At the end of one of the most hectic days of his short and controversial ownership of Twitter, Elon Musk - who bought the company in October for $44 billion - wrote the following message on the social network last Sunday: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.” What Twitter users had apparently been wishing for was to see Musk resign as CEO, and that it was they appear to have gotten, although with Musk one never really knows. Following a Twitter poll on the subject, he announced in a tweet on Tuesday night that he will step down “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” From there, the billionaire owner of Tesla and SpaceX will “just run the software and server teams,” he added.
As such, Musk has kept his promise to “abide by the results” of the poll he initiated as a vote of confidence on his stewardship of the social media company, and which was open to his more than 122 million followers on the platform. Of those, 17,503,391 participated, with 57% voting in favor of Musk stepping away from his role.
Should I step down as head of Twitter? I will abide by the results of this poll.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
The trigger for the vote was the latest change in the platform’s user policies, which prevented users from linking to Facebook or Instagram - owned by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta - as well as other platforms such as Mastodon or Truth Social. The move generated so much criticism, even among the staunchest defenders of the second-richest man on the planet, that Musk was forced to back down.
On Tuesday, amid US media reports about his “active search” for an executive capable of succeeding him and keeping Twitter afloat, Musk scoffed at the stories and alluded to the elephant in the room: he had asked his customers whether they wanted him to remain at the head of the company and had received a categorical response.
One of Musk’s favorite phrases during his turbulent two months in charge of Twitter has been: “Vox populi, vox Dei,” which translates as “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” This has served as the basis for the polls he has employed to make transcendental operating decisions since he acquired the platform on October 27. The most eye-catching decision Musk has made was to readmit former president Donald Trump to Twitter following his indefinite suspension for inciting the assault on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Trump has so far declined the invitation as he now has his own social media platform, Truth Social, to promote in the wake of his exile.
As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 18, 2022
With Musk, it is difficult to predict what ramifications his resignation – if he follows through on it – will bring. The only thing that remains beyond doubt is that Musk will remain Twitter’s sole owner: after his successful takeover, he took the platform off the market. If he finds someone “foolish” enough to take on the job – a few people have applied directly on Twitter – it is also hard to forecast how much free rein a new CEO will be afforded.
Since Musk took control of Twitter, he has fired 70% of the platform’s 7,500 employees. The first to be shown the door were the company’s upper tier of executives. These were followed by several rounds of sackings, the most recent of which was carried out last Friday when 50 more workers were handed their papers, as well as a mass resignation following Musk’s ultimatum to employees to accept a new corporate culture.
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