This country has a fascination with billionaires. We admire them and believe every word coming from their mouths like they were some sort of golden nectar. The reality is billionaires are not particularly smarter than anyone else, but the traits they most share are ambition, greed, and narcissism.
These traits are embodied by Donald Trump and Elon Musk, who made his fortune by investing in PayPal. Musk then used those profits to start Tesla and SpaceX. He was successful in both ventures because they were the only kids on the block. Tesla started the electric car revolution and SpaceX is one of a few private rocket ship makers. Tesla now has competition, and its stock has dropped 52% since the beginning of the year, causing Musk’s wealth to drop by $100 billion.
The born-again MAGA’s magic touch seems to be gone. Musk wanted to make a statement by buying Twitter, I think in part, because the platform kicked off Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Musk overbid for a company that was losing money, and shareholders used a lawsuit to force him into fulfilling his commitment after he tried backing out of the deal. So, he ended up buying Twitter for $44 billion.
To make Twitter profitable, Musk needs to increase advertising and somehow better monetize its use. Because hate speech increased 500% on the platform, many of its traditional advertisers pulled out. It shows some people in corporate America have common sense and integrity.
Musk then tried to charge $8 for Twitter’s account-verifying blue check; that backfired. He laid off more than half the platform’s workforce, going from 7,500 employees to 3,700. But then – oops – he realized that he’d dismissed some critical people and asked them to come back. It appears that none wanted to return.
After that he issued a bully-like threat, telling his remaining employees to brace for very long hours if they want to stay and rebuild the company – or resign and get three months of severance. An estimated 1,200 walked and took the payout. Should anyone be surprised?
Musk then sent a desperate email to remaining employees asking that anyone who could write programs come to a special meeting. So many employees have departed that the company is now way understaffed, and business experts anticipate Twitter will slowly lose the ability to stay afloat.
A former employee described the situation as hitting the accelerator on the car and then the driver jumps out. Musk and his remaining team are trying to save money by cutting back on employee lunches and not paying vendors. To add insult to injury, he’s welcomed Trump and Greene back to Twitter. Trump failed to jump on this opportunity because he’s launched his own social media company, Truth Social.
Musk is now contemplating putting Twitter into bankruptcy.
Not sure how this billionaire can possibly save his new company. I was never on the platform, but a lot of socially minded individuals are leaving. The best revenge for former Twitter employees would be to start a new competing company. They have the technological know-how, and relationships with vendors and advertisers.
In any case, it appears Musk will be down at least $144 billion and that his magic touch is gone. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Maybe things will get so bad that he’ll return to South Africa, his homeland. God knows we have enough homegrown MAGAs. We don’t need to import any.
Reginald J. Clyne is a Miami trial lawyer who has practiced in some of the largest law firms in the United States. Clyne has been in practice since 1987 and tries cases in both state and federal court. He has lived in Africa, Brazil, Honduras and Nicaragua.