Twitter will be under new management — but the same ownership. How much will change, and how fast?
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Elon Musk has announced plans for a new Twitter CEO but hasn’t said who it is. In a tweet on Thursday, Musk says that he has “hired a new CEO for X/Twitter” and that “she will be starting in ~6 weeks.” Musk will instead assume the role of executive chair and chief technology officer, “overseeing product, software & sysops” of Twitter.
While Musk may soon no longer be CEO, he still owns the company, which he has renamed “X.” It seems unlikely that giving someone else one specific title will make Twitter any less of a wild ride. Musk became “Chief Twit” last October, when he closed his acquisition of the company, followed by the immediate firing of large portions of its executive staff and thousands of other employees.
Another question is how Musk’s divided attention has affected his other companies (Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, The Boring Company — did we miss any?) and how it will affect them in the future. In December, Tesla investors were openly calling for Musk to hand over control of Twitter as the car company’s stock price dropped to $101, just a third of its peak price over the last year, at around $314. Now Tesla has slashed prices on vehicles and is facing lower margins in what some are calling an EV price war, as it faces more competition than ever before.
As Musk has reshaped Twitter policy, seemingly to match his own whims, speculation has only increased about how long his tenure would last — and how big of an effect it’s having on his other companies. The Musk era has also included changes that upset Twitter’s relationships with users, public safety officials, and others.
Musk’s Twitter takeover even affected the platform’s advertising business. Several major advertisers paused spending on Twitter over concerns that Musk’s views on free speech could damage their reputation, and the wave of fake verified accounts that appeared on the platform following the initial launch of Musk’s revamped Twitter Blue didn’t help, either.
Musk eventually rolled out a higher-priced Twitter Blue subscription, banished old “legacy” verified checkmarks for users with fewer than a million followers, and ushered in a UI makeover where users swipe between an algorithmically sorted, recommendations-based For You timeline and a chronological Following one. He also rolled out encrypted DMs for verified users only.
Musk previewed the CEO change with a December poll asking followers if he should “step down as head of Twitter,” promising to abide by the wishes of the crowd (and likely, bots).
The vote appeared after Musk implemented a widely criticized policy change that seemingly banned sharing links to other social network sites. Musk later clarified and then rolled back the rule, promising that there would be a vote for major policy changes going forward — not the first time he promised decisions at Twitter would be made by committee. A few minutes later, he tweeted the poll about stepping down, which received around 17.5 million responses, with 57.5 percent indicating that he should no longer be CEO of Twitter.
The poll was hardly the first indication that Musk would eventually find someone else to take over Twitter’s day-to-day operations. In November, while testifying in court about his compensation as Tesla’s CEO, he said, “I expect to reduce my time at Twitter and find somebody else to run Twitter over time,” which lined up with earlier reports that his role as CEO was pitched from the start as a temporary one.