Watching Elon Musk take possession of Twitter is a lot like watching someone clean their room. At this point, it looks like chaos in every direction. But is there an underlying order that will emerge once all of the necessary changes have been made?
Your answer might depend a great deal on if you’re an Elon-lover or an Elon-hater. There’s no doubt that Musk is a highly polarizing figure. And he’s operating on a scale that seems larger than life – sending people to Mars, controlling a fleet of satellites, trying to steer the conversation on electric vehicles, and now, owner of one of the world’s largest social media platforms. Every move Elon makes sends ripples through several industries, and it is perhaps inevitable that he is taking on somewhat mythic proportions in the public imagination.
Our Expectations of a Rational Process Are Not Elon’s Obligation
Being seen as larger than life the way Elon Musk is can be a mixed blessing at best. Yes, there’s tremendous opportunity in being able to leverage the sentiment of a large fan base – how many Teslas do you think would sell absent Elon’s leadership of the brand? – but one is also saddled with the public’s expectations of how someone in that position can and should act.
Case in point: the Twitter takeover. Elon is hardly new to the tech space. He knows that programmers, developers, and other essential personnel tend to be highly inefficient at best, and if they’re not on your side – look out. Cleaning house the way he did was hardly tactful – and the heavy-handedness of the process resulted in several avoidable points of self-inflicted damage – but at the end of the day, Elon is a shrewd businessman who wants the corporate culture with him, not against him.
Does this look nice? Does it make for warm and fuzzy coverage in the press? Absolutely not – but it’s important to observe what is actually happening, compared to the expectations we have relative to Elon’s performance. For example, we might have expectations related to the pivotal role Twitter has had in supporting democratic movements around the world – but if we observe Elon’s actions, such as the huge block of Twitter advertising just purchased by Space X – some connections and synergies begin to take on greater weight and relevance.
What looks like an entirely chaotic process may in fact just be a very complex way to introduce a greater level of coherence into Musk’s organizational structure. We know he likes to own every controllable aspect of his empire – that’s why you can only get Tesla parts and service from Tesla – and Twitter represents a giant, owned advertising platform with tremendous global reach.
I’m not saying everything is being handled brilliantly – Eli Lilly definitely would have words on this point, I’m sure – but there is a method to the madness. Birth is a messy process. For Twitter to reach a form that’s in alignment with Musk’s vision, this chaos is both inevitable and a positive sign of change.
Is it change for the better? Hard to say at this point, but I’m very curious to know your thoughts. Let me know what you’d say to Elon right now if you had the chance.