This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Elon Musk sees no downside to being extremely online.
Okay so I have 127 million followers and it keeps growing really fast
“Let me check my Twitter account,” he said in a Tesla earnings call Wednesday night. “Okay, so I have 127 million followers and it keeps growing really fast.”
Just look at that scoreboard.
“That suggests I’m quite popular,” Musk continued. “Maybe not popular with some people. But for the vast majority of people, the following account is self-explanatory.”
It’s a bizarre statement from someone who is quite literally rightly so because his tweets have caused measurable chaos, both for himself, his investors and his company. Musk is facing potentially billions of dollars in damages from a group of Tesla investors who claim Musk’s tweets misled them, saying that relying on his statements to make trades cost them significant amounts of money.
“I am quite popular”
That 2018 tweet has already cost him $40 million — $20 million from Tesla and $20 million from him personally — to settle a securities fraud lawsuit from the SEC. Twitter is free to use for most people, but for Elon Musk the cost was disproportionately high.
On the earnings call, Musk rattled off a quick pitch to Twitter, noting that it’s an “incredibly powerful tool” that’s driving demand for Tesla’s vehicles (the company just put in a massive price cut to account for declining demand) and suggested that other CEOs in the auto industry should tweet like him to boost sales. (Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess tried to do just that; a year later he was out of a job.)
It’s fair to say that Musk’s Twitter usage has been a disaster. His takeover of the social media company has reduced his net worth and saddled him with debt. A growing number of Tesla owners who took issue with his early claims of a more sustainable future are now embarrassed to be seen in one of his cars. His investors beg him to stop tweeting, but of course Elon Musk will never stop.
Twitter, it is often said, is not real life. But for Musk, it’s all that and more.