Why is Elon Musk spending his time on Twitter, not on the Mars mission?:- I’ve been watching Elon Musk for many years — and more closely in recent months than ever before, since he decided to buy the social network Twitter.
He is one of the richest men in the world – sometimes the richest, depending on the price of Tesla shares, his main financial asset. With other high-profile companies under his wing, including Tesla, Space X, Starlink, and Neuralink, he is also the subject of global fascination.
Then, of course, there’s his own story—the 51-year-old billionaire who has 10 children, ranging in age from one to 18. Their first son died at the age of just 10 weeks. Musk, who was born in South Africa, has described living with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and said that one of his main goals in life is to colonize Mars.
What I’ve learned – as, perhaps, have many of us – is that there are many different faces to Elon Musk.
The persona he projects through his prolific tweets is provocative, controversial, and bombastic. He loves a raunchy memes, knows that whatever he says will make headlines around the world, and enjoys trolling the media with more outrageous statements and jokes than ever before. That’s how we journalists like to try to write as many extreme headlines as possible.
In public, he has learned to be a showman, whether dancing with electric-car-making robots, emerging triumphantly from the latest slick Tesla prototype, or being filmed walking into Twitter’s headquarters carrying a sink – “Let That Sink In”. was the gag, playing off a popular meme on the site. This Halloween, he attended a party in a leather-clad, $7,500 costume called the “Devil’s Champion”.
And yet his ex-wife Tallulah Riley, whom he married twice, described him as “lovely” and “shy” on the BBC documentary series The Elon Musk Show.
Veteran Silicon Valley journalist and author Mike Malone, who has known Mr. Musk for 20 years, told me he sees “a very reserved, very smart, very introspective and intellectual guy” working through complex trajectory tables. spends long transatlantic flights with him while trying to read. Work out how to land a spacecraft on Mars.
The pair have long held $5 (£4) bets on Mr. Musk’s ambition to send people to Mars by 2030. “I said, ‘I don’t think you can do it — but I hope you can. Your $5,'” Mr. Malone says. “That bet is still floating in the air”.
Sending people to Mars is a lifelong goal for Mr. Musk. Some say it is their take on long-term – a philosophy espoused by some very wealthy people that seeks to serve the interests of billions of people in the distant future rather than focusing on the immediate needs of the present.
He says that at some point the human race will have to leave Earth. And his interest in space is visible in his current business portfolio. But where on earth does Twitter fit in?
Mr. Musk answered that question this week – in a tweet.
“Social media in general, Twitter in particular, were destroying decency,” he wrote. “If civilization collapses before Mars becomes self-sufficient, then nothing else matters. Human consciousness is gone.”
But how was Twitter “eroding civility”?
Mr. Musk said, initially, his objective in purchasing the platform was to create a 21st-century digital, global town square to discuss the significant issues of society.
He has written several times about the perceived imbalance under the previous regime, arguing that right-leaning views were given less visibility by Twitter staff than left-leaning ones, skewing the debate and creating an echo chamber.
Creating where no one has seen content that challenges their existing point of view. Along with a few selected journalists, he published the “Twitter Files”, a selected set of internal documents, to support his view.
The amount of profanity and misinformation thrown around on stage could also be seen as a distraction from the real issues Mr. Musk wants to discuss.
But anyone who’s ever tried will know that navigating that tightrope between allowing free speech and suppressing hateful content is very difficult.
Perhaps in Mr. Musk’s mind, there is a connection somewhere between Twitter and Neuralink, which is trying to create a direct link between the human mind and the computer.
Could it be that Twitter is part of their research and they have essentially bought themselves a living, breathing neural network of 300 million people who are sharing their lives and opinions online, in real-time?
OK, we’re in the realm of science fiction. But taking it to another planet in some form or another would be a way to take human consciousness away from Earth – and we know Mr. Musk likes a challenge.
Mr. Malone may never see his $5 – and betting against Mr. Musk is generally a bad idea, says entrepreneur Dolly Singh, who worked with him at SpaceX for six years until 2013.
“I would, as a rule, never bet against him,” she says.
“Anything that’s a machine—hands down, it’s going to win.”
But Ms. Singh also thinks Twitter poses a different challenge to her former boss.
“It’s going to be harder than he anticipated—and it’s going to be a lot of work for him,” she says.
Mr. Musk has openly talked about giving priority to engineering and code. At a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference in Vancouver last year, he said that growing up, he didn’t understand that people don’t necessarily say what they mean.
In a text message, released as part of court papers for a legal case against Twitter that never actually happened, he wrote: “I interface better with engineers who are program managers.
” /MBA [Master of Business Administration] people type in comparison to [Master of Business Administration] and/or frankly I hate doing [management] stuff. I don’t think anybody should be anybody’s boss. But I love helping solve technical/product design problems.”
Their problem is that Twitter is a huge messy network of millions of people shouting, laughing, teasing, trolling, and arguing – loud, complex, and subtle.
Mr. Musk has already struggled with trying to moderate it, even with promises of a lighter touch than the previous regime.
And Ms. Singh isn’t the only supervisor to ask whether she’ll find it more difficult than she imagined to keep running smoothly.
Elon musk ‘Hard-working man’
As a businessman and a leader, he can be ruthless – though arguably not so much as compared to other CEOs.
He had laid off half the staff within a week of buying Twitter. The rest were asked to sign contracts committing to an “intense” work ethic and long hours.
Pre-Twitter, he was one of the first to invite employees of all his companies back to the workplace full-time after the pandemic lockdown.
And he won’t tolerate anything less than 100% commitment from his employees.
Ms. Singh characterized Kasturi as an “incredible leader” who was determined to “prove everyone wrong” when she was told she could not achieve anything. As was often said about her I am said to be a phenomenally hard worker.
“Elon wants to live in a world where he works 80 hours a week,” she says.
“It’s okay for him to say, ‘I hope you work as hard as I do,’ because he’s not calling it in from the beach, he’s sleeping in a sleeping bag on the factory floor.”
She says most people burn out after a while. He doesn’t.
He has set up beds for his employees at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters – although he is understood to be sleeping there himself. He even shared a picture of his two-year-old son X wearing the company pass.
Others who worked with him in the 1990s also remember his extraordinary working style. He was furious, one said, not finding anyone in the office at 21:00 on a Friday night.
Ms. Singh says her time is Mr. Musk’s most valuable commodity.
“Think what it’s costing per second,” she says.
You don’t need to do the math to know that this is eye-watering.
And now, he’s pouring it all out on Twitter.
Maybe Mr. Malone shouldn’t spend his $5 right now.
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