News that Elon Musk — best known for his work at SpaceX and Tesla and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — bought nearly $3 billion worth of Twitter stock early in the week and took the tech world by storm. Shares of Twitter skyrocketed in the wake of the news, filling Musk’s accounts as well as those of the company’s other investors and employees.
The tech tycoon quickly converted his alleged passive stake into a board seat the next day, sparking a new cycle of news about his investment activity, the future of the social network and more broadly corporate governance.
The entrepreneur is an outspoken business executive and a fan of using Twitter to make news, harass his critics, and generally have more fun than most CEOs. But the SpaceX founder did offer some context in late March, arguing on Twitter that Twitter isn’t fulfilling its purported job as a “town square.”
Marketingwithanoy’s Amanda Silberling previously spoke through Musk’s then-opinion that Twitter should be more open and the odds that he could build a competing service. That comment came before Musk bought just over 9% of Twitter and landed a seat on its board of directors, so it’s time to get back into the matter and think some more.
Below we have collected thoughts from: Amanda Silberling another new Marketingwithanoy recruit Kyle Wiggersand Alex Wilhelm† Silberling thinks influence is the right prism to look at Musk’s comments and actions, while Wiggers has focused more on the corporate governance perspective and Wilhelm has weighed in on what good personality-oriented social networks can and cannot bring. Let’s have some fun!
Alex Wilhelm: Why doesn’t Elon just get a Discord?
I’ve been chewing on the issue of big names bringing their fans to new platforms ever since we’ve seen an exodus of certain right-wing figures to alt-Twitter services in recent years. Some left voluntarily, some with a boot firm up their backs. But what they all share is the fact that their new homes have generally failed to challenge Twitter’s hegemony.
The lesson is not that a handful of individuals or narrow-minded ideologies make Twitter great. Indeed, it is the opposite. The sheer number of Twitter users and their myriad, diffuse points of view make Twitter great. This essentially makes building a “new, better Twitter” around anything too focused a doomed effort. At best, you create a humble, insular community that generally agrees with you or your loved one.
And we have a service for that! It’s called Discord and it’s pretty good.
Elon doesn’t want that, I think. As Amanda argues below, he doesn’t want to lose his influence. So why not buy a bunch of the company’s stock and use your strong arm to force your way into the innermost sanctuary?