Bizarre appearance in the dark: Is Elon Musk overwhelmed?

Elon Musk currently has "too much" work to do.

Bizarre appearance in the dark: Is Elon Musk overwhelmed?

Elon Musk currently has "too much" work to do. He not only has to lead Twitter out of the crisis he caused himself, but also manage Tesla, SpaceX and other companies. Musk's ability and will to deal with such crises is undisputed. But why is he doing this to himself?

The scenery is bizarre: Elon Musk's face, only half lit, appears out of focus in a pitch-dark room on the huge screen of the B20 meeting, an economic event as part of the G20 summit on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali. The picture and sound of the video switch keep getting stuck. His power just went out. The richest man in the world explains that he set up candles for lighting. That doesn't spoil the moderator's good mood: he wants to know from his guest why he actually works so much and doesn't even jump on a plane and come to Bali to relax. "That's for sure," says Musk, who keeps pausing as if out of breath, "I've got too much work on my plate." He wouldn't recommend anyone to work that hard.

It is not just this short appearance that raises the question: Has the entrepreneurial genius Musk taken over Twitter? Since the takeover was completed, the social media group has apparently been in free fall. Since the obviously amateurish attempt to fire half of the workforce overnight, many indispensable employees have also been missing. A rushed verification subscription led to a flood of barely recognizable fake profiles that were free to spread fake news. Around the US midterm elections, hate speech and targeted misinformation increased even more than on Twitter anyway. All of this drove advertisers to flee, and revenue plummeted. Musk did not rule out Twitter bankruptcy in front of employees. It is completely unclear how he intends to generate income that would be sufficient to pay off the company's mountain of debt resulting from the takeover.

From his dozens of tweets a day, Musk was personally behind much of the disastrously hasty decisions, as well as the attempts, at best partially successful, to reverse them and limit the damage. Some of these tweets raise doubts as to whether the new owner understands everything that he is about to decide on the fly. Some of his (ex) employees describe his statements on technical issues as meaningless.

A tweet in which Musk boasted that Twitter generated a lot of traffic for other websites and apps caused ridicule. The network is "by far the biggest click driver on the Internet". Twitter's own fact-check mechanism included the annotation below: "The opposite is true." In fact, Facebook forwards a multiple of visitors to other websites.

At the same time, however, Musk also finds time to attack political and personal opponents on Twitter, make recommendations for elections and comment on all sorts of posts by other users. At the same time, Musk is partly responsible for the day-to-day business of his other companies, especially Tesla and SpaceX. Each of these chief positions is a full-time job at comparable companies. Are Musk now finally slipping the strings with the additional task on Twitter, even if he says he now works “seven days a week from morning to night”?

Anyone who wants to write Musk off given the current chaos should remember how the manager had led Tesla in recent years. In 2017 and 2018, the then comparatively small e-car manufacturer fell into a deep crisis. Shortly before, Musk had taken over his brother's solar company, founded the tunneling company Boring Company and the startup Neuralink. Critics accused Musk of getting bogged down in his many tasks and of overdoing himself with his ambitious expansion course at Tesla. There was also talk of health problems for the obviously overworked entrepreneur. Musk later spoke of "production hell" and that Tesla was actually only a few weeks away from bankruptcy.

But Musk successfully led Tesla out of this crisis. At times he worked around the clock and slept on the floor in the factory, which was still under construction. Contrary to the expectations of many analysts, Tesla is now profitable. Despite the recent price losses, the group is currently valued more than ten times as high on the stock exchange as it was five years ago.

Musk is doing everything he can to repeat this success story on Twitter, even if critics emphasize that a social network is something completely different than a car company, and above all the confrontational and repeatedly provocative appearance of the entrepreneur hindered the success of Twitter. Musk's ability and willingness to work around the clock if necessary, while juggling multiple full-time jobs, is evident. However, Musk leaves the actual question of the moderator of the B20 conference, why he is doing this, unanswered.

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