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City comment: Elon Musk is better served agitating from the outside at Twitter

·1-min read
Tesla boss Elon Musk (TED Conferences, LLC/AFP via Get)
Tesla boss Elon Musk (TED Conferences, LLC/AFP via Get)

Elon Musk may be a master Twitter user but that doesn’t mean he should own the company.

The Tesla billionaire is angling to buy the social media website in an attempt to “protect” free speech and “unlock” its “potential”. What that entails isn’t totally clear, beyond replacing the board and relaxing content moderation.

His bid came just two weeks after his stake in Twitter became public and the whole thing has a back of the envelope feel to it.

Musk is unquestionably one of this era’s greatest value creators and entrepreneurs but he already has his hands full with Tesla and Space X. Neither are well oiled machines you can leave to run themselves for a few quarters.

Tesla in particular is carrying the hopes and savings of thousands of small-time investors betting on its continued rapid growth. They deserve his full attention.

One criticism of ex-Twitter boss Jack Dorsey was he didn’t give enough time to the business — running payment start-up Square at the same time. Why wouldn’t Musk have the same problem?

The billionaire is passionate about Twitter but he is better as an outside agitator, pushing the board to listen to his ideas and then letting them worry about implementing them.

The “poison pill” strategy adopted by Twitter management over the weekend — making it far dearer for Musk to buy the business — means Musk may well find himself stuck on the outside.

He has painted himself into a corner by suggesting he will sell up if he can’t buy the whole thing. He should reconsider if the bid does prove unsuccessful.

Billionaires are used to getting their way but in this case compromise is the best option.

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