_
_
_
_
_

Threads’ record growth is Zuckerberg’s long-awaited first punch in his battle with Musk

The new social app is now available in 100 countries (none in the European Union), with over 100 million users quickly signing up

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg
Meta owner Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter owner Elon Musk.Getty Images / Pepa Ortiz (collage)

Like kids in a schoolyard, two of the world’s wealthiest men say they’re ready to settle differences with their fists. Elon Musk, who tops Bloomberg’s billionaire list with a staggering $239 billion fortune, will go head-to-head with Mark Zuckerberg, the ninth-richest man with a mere $108.4 billion.

The reason, or excuse, for the promised showdown is Threads, a new app from Meta that bears a striking resemblance to Twitter. Chris Cox, Meta’s product chief, commented in a recent meeting that “We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run.” The leaked comment made before the product launch was directed at Musk, who has stirred up one controversy after another since acquiring the company, resulting in the loss of advertisers, corporate users and celebrities.

After the Threads platform details were revealed, Musk went on Twitter to criticize the concentration of social networks in Zuckerberg’s hands. One follower quickly posted a tongue-in-cheek comment warning him about Zuckerberg’s martial arts training. Musk responded with a now-famous challenge to a cage fight. The Meta CEO shot back by posting a screenshot of Musk’s tweet with the caption “send me location.”

As social media buzzed about the billionaire showdown, tensions between the two companies began escalating. Threads is now available in 100 countries (none in the European Union), with over 100 million users quickly signing up. However, it still has a way to go compared to Twitter’s 535 million monthly active users, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 100 million signups represent “mostly organic demand and we haven’t even turned on many promotions yet,” Zuckerberg posted on Threads. “Can’t believe it’s only been 5 days!”

Musk appears ready to challenge Zuckerberg, not just in the ring, but also in the courts. Last week, Twitter threatened legal action against Meta for allegedly hiring former employees to develop its new platform, which bears such a striking resemblance to Twitter that even the Facebook founder joked about it. Musk’s acquisition of Twitter was a bold move that quickly led to a leadership shakeup and layoffs, while Zuckerberg didn’t hesitate to take frequent jabs at his moves. Courtney McMillian, a former Twitter employee dismissed in January, has filed a lawsuit against Musk in a San Francisco federal court, accusing him of refusing to pay $500 million in compensation to thousands of terminated employees, according to Reuters.

Musk is also irritated about Meta’s hiring of former Twitter employees and using their expertise to compete against him. After the initial mass layoffs (11,000 employees) in November, an additional 10,000 have been dismissed in various subsequent rounds. After one Twitter layoff, Zuckerberg cheekily shared a not-so-muscular shirtless photo of himself, sparking rumors of bloody hostilities.

While internet users eagerly anticipate a showdown between two of the tech world’s most controversial figures, their individual fortunes continue to climb. The recent solid performance by the Nasdaq index has made both contenders even wealthier. Musk, who ceded the title of the world’s richest person to Bernard Arnault in 2022, reclaimed it by adding $96.6 billion to his fortune in the first half of 2023. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg’s wealth increased by $58.9 billion, pushing him from 25th in December 2022 to ninth in June 2023.

The promised cage fight has undeniably sparked global interest and rampant speculation. Italy’s Ministry of Culture was even forced to deny a rumor that the Italian government had offered the Roman Colosseum as a venue for the event. Elon’s father, Errol Musk, said the family is a tad concerned. “The thing is, if this crazy fight goes ahead, if Elon beats this guy, Elon will be called a bully, being so much heavier and taller,” he told British newspaper The Sun. “While if he loses, the humiliation would be total.”

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
_
_