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Naturally prompted by the current Twitter situation, I've come to the point where I just have to write down my thoughts.
I have no doubt that Elon Musk is a genius, both of thought and action. He can formulate visions and execute them. He has two truly epic feats under his belt - starting a viable car company from scratch (the first since the 1930s) and bringing about the next generation of space technology and exploration, after a long, long winter. This is definitely not the work of an "emerald mine heir, just investing his money."
He is however not an infallible genius, which is particularly noticeable in areas outside of his core expertise. And that includes social networks. In some sense, it might be the kind of venture least amiable to an engineering, top-down approach. The product is made of a fickle, unpredictable human mass and there are no good instruments or levers to make it do what you want.
The first thing about the whole Twitter situation which really gave me a pause was the fact that Musk had apparently waived due diligence as a part of the $44B takeover bid. This is completely incomprehensible to me. From an M&A perspective, it's like a story of someone who picks up a skank at a seedy dive bar and proceeds to raw-dog her. Incredibly irresponsible. Are you sure you don't want to use a condom? Things might seem easier in the moment, but the potential for future regret is rather alarming! The rebuke I've heard was that Dorsey had already told him all the important stuff anyway, but that's just not how the process works. For one, the due diligence could have given him a way out of the bid (and boy, wouldn't that turn out to be handy...) It's not guaranteed, but rare indeed is the DD that doesn't uncover some sort of irregularity or dubious representation that could have served as ammo in the lawsuit. Secondly, the DD would have mapped out the exact internal structure, external relations, responsibilities and exposures. Even if (or rather precisely because) the plan was to mow through the ranks, this would have been extremely useful to have. If you're going in with an axe, you should at least have a map of the areas you intend to clear-cut. The whaling system deployed by Musk might have been effective at selecting for a combination of competence, drive and vision alignment (and/or desperation) - but that's not the same as critical institutional knowledge. Twitter is vast and something like 80% of the people who knew what went where and why are gone. The sole irreplaceable value of Twitter is in its existing user network - but this is inextricable from the pulsing, living IT snarl containing the accounts and their connections, which is in turn inextricable from the human apparatus building it and maintaining it. With cars or rockets, as long as you have the tech packages, you can always just bring in new competent engineers to continue the work. But there isn't any objective singular blueprint of Twitter. No single person has the whole picture. It's dubious whether it can even be successfully cold-reset. It's just... why go about it that way? Why not put on the condom?
The second incident was the checkmark fiasco: 1. Blow up the old and opaque verification system 2. Concoct an $8/month pay-to-play scheme 3. Discover why the verification system had been there in the first place 4. Clumsily return to a variant of the old opaque verification system. I'm sure the advertisers were thrilled. How am I not looking at an impulsive, poorly though-out spiteful action here? There are people stuck with GIANT PENIS handles to this day...
The thirds aspect is Musk ostensibly sleeping over at Twitter HQ, wildly coding into the night with the bros. The problem is that either his ethos of "You can't put in less than 80 hours a week and expect a thing to work." is wrong or Tesla and SpaceX are getting the shaft here. And the stock price sure seems to indicate the belief in the latter. More than half of the value gone, YOY, as of the time of this writing. And heaven knows what's happening to Neuralink or the Boring Company. Precisely to the degree that Musk is an irreplaceable genius, the Twitter stunt is coming at the expense of projects he himself considers vital for the survival of human consciousness. What are the priorities here?
The further unmentioned elephant in the room is stimulant abuse and, even worse, the attendant lack of sleep. At this point, it would take a lot to persuade me he isn't up to his gills in some Chinese designer hyper-opti-MegaAdderall regimen, which just appears as both the likeliest cause and result of his recent actions and decisions.
The historical parallel I'm most reminded of is Napoleon. Certainly no rando of middling qualities - but also somebody who, past his initial bout of success and innovation, slumped into the belief in his own brand of unerring radical decisions, with well-known consequences.
So I'm out. Not that it should matter to anyone in any practical terms, but my confidence in Elon Musk's process and vision is gone. At this point, it mostly looks like the driver's seat is occupied by erratic hyperconfidence. I'm not expecting Twitter to disappear any time soon, in fact I still consider it somewhat more likely than not that the company will ultimately stabilize. It's not that any single action had caused irreparable damage - but the series of unforced errors, starting with the bid itself, isn't inspiring any future confidence in me. I will not be getting on that rocket to Mars, thank you very much.
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