The new owner of the microblogging website said in December that he would step down once he finds someone to succeed him.
Tesla shareholders will have to be patient.
They breathed a sigh of relief after Musk announced in mid-December that he would step down as CEO of Twitter once he found a successor.
They were no doubt hoping that the search for the new boss of the platform would go very quickly and was probably a matter of a few months or even weeks.
Secretly, they would have liked it to be a matter of a few days for the billionaire to refocus on Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report, which suffered a stock market rout last year. The electric vehicle maker’s stock had fallen 65% in 2022 despite strong fundamentals. This collapse had provoked the ire of certain major shareholders such as Leo KoGuan and Ross Gerber.
“Elon has now erased $600 bil of tesla wealth and still nothing from the Tesla BOD,” Gerber lambasted on December 16 on Twitter. “It’s wholly unacceptable.” BOD stands for Board of Directors.
Gerber has since been campaigning to join the BOD to represent, in his view, retail investors.
‘End of This Year Should Be a Good Timing’
Gerber and other Tesla shareholders are likely to be disappointed to learn that Musk may remain CEO of Twitter until the end of the year. This is what the billionaire declared on February 15 during a virtual appearance at the World Government Summit in Dubai.
“I think I need to stabilize the organization and just make sure it’s in a financially healthy place and that the product roadmap is clearly laid out,” Musk said during a remote video interview. “I’m guessing probably towards the end of this year should be a good timing to find someone else to run the company, because I think it should be in a stable condition around, you know the end of this year.”
Musk had completed the acquisition of the social network on October 27 for $44 billion. He immediately fired the entire management team, including CEO Parag Agrawal. The serial entrepreneur, who was already CEO of Tesla, founder of SpaceX and is also involved in two other companies, then became the boss of Twitter 2.0.
He had embarked on a race to revamp the platform that had cost him dearly. The billionaire was in debt to the tune of $13 billion to finance the deal. He has since transferred this debt to Twitter’s balance sheet.
Musk has launched various initiatives to deal with the financial shortfall linked to the exodus of advertisers. He had also launched an unprecedented austerity cure by eliminating a total of 5,200 jobs, or 69.3% of Twitter’s workforce at the time of his arrival.
He also decided to make the platform a bastion of free speech by reactivating most of the accounts of conservatives and right-wing extremists suspended by Twitter 1.0 for violating the safeguards put in place against xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and the spread misinformation.
‘Much Less Work to Operate Tesla Now’
By focusing on Twitter, Musk was therefore spending less time at Tesla, frustrating some shareholders and markets that see the platform as an unwelcome distraction. Faced with criticism, Musk announced on December 20 that he would step down as CEO of Twitter after organizing a poll in which he asked users of the platform to vote whether or not he should continue to lead the company.
Nearly 18 million users voted and yes won with 57.5% of the votes cast. Musk promised to abide by the result.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!” the billionaire said on Dec.20. “After that, I will just run the software & servers teams.”
During his virtual interview, Musk said that Tesla and SpaceX were now in a good position. He notably highlighted the fact that SpaceX is able to make a lot of progress even if I spend less time there.
“Tesla went through some very difficult times where it was on the ragged edge of survival,” Musk told the audience. “It does require much less work to operate Tesla now, versus say in the 2017 to 2019 timeframe.”
The future CEO of Twitter should be, Musk said in December, someone who “must like pain a lot.”
“One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May,” he continued, adding that it must also be “someone foolish enough to take the job.”
On Feb. 15, Musk tweeted: “The new CEO of Twitter is amazing.”
The post was accompanied by the meme of a dog sitting on a chair and wearing a shirt that read CEO. On the table, papers and a laptop with the blue bird, the Twitter logo.