The end of Musk? (At Twitter, anyway.) Or the end of Twitter itself?

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

Elon Musk has been running a lot of polls on Twitter recently, but the one he launched last night really caught me by surprise. I was tweeting about something totally unrelated when I saw a Musk tweet pop up asking if he should “step down as head of Twitter.” He added that he would abide by the results of the poll. This came on the heels of significant backlash against a series of new rules he had imposed on users regarding “doxxing” and prohibitions against links to other social media platforms.

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The poll was only set to run for twelve hours and it ended shortly after I logged in this morning. As you can see, it really wasn’t that close. The vote total calling for him to step down won by a 57/43 margin. (For the record, I voted no.) CNN was quick to proclaim that the wicked witch was dead.

A Twitter poll created by Elon Musk asking whether he should “step down as head of Twitter” ended early Monday morning with most respondents voting in the affirmative.

Musk had said he would abide by the results of the poll, which began Sunday evening and concluded with 57% voting yes, 43% voting no.

More than 17 million votes were cast in the informal referendum on his chaotic leadership of Twitter, which has been marked by mass layoffs, the replatforming of suspended accounts that had violated Twitter’s rules, the suspension of journalists who cover him and whiplash policy changes made and reversed in real time.

So what happens now? I don’t see how Musk can simply pretend that this never happened and continue on in his current position. If he does, that will pretty much be the end of his vaunted “Vox populi, vox Dei” policy because the “voice of God” has spoken and told him to see himself to the door. If he sticks around, he will be illegitimate under the rules he established himself for this game.

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My first thought was that he would simply assign a new CEO to officially run the operation while he remained as a de facto overlord in the background. But during a series of tweets responding to various questions from users after the poll began, Musk sounded fairly definitive about that not happening. He told one person that “there is no successor” if he steps aside.

Musk seemed to double down on that plan when he told another user that it wasn’t just a matter of finding a new CEO. He would need to find someone who can “keep Twitter alive.”

I’ll include one more tweet here where Musk tells another person volunteering to run the company for him that Twitter is on a fast path to bankruptcy and has been since the spring.

One thing to remember is that when Elon put that poll up, he didn’t offer a timeline as to when he would “step down.” He could announce today that he plans to step aside sometime next year or in the next few years and technically still look like he’s keeping his word. But somehow I don’t get the feeling that’s what he has in mind.

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If he honestly believes that the company is heading for bankruptcy and nobody could “keep Twitter alive,” might he actually be thinking about pulling the plug? If so, this would wind up being the most expensive “experiment” in the history of global business. Musk spent $44 billion of his own money to purchase the company and take it private. If he shuts down the platform entirely, the value of the company will be fairly close to zero.

At the time I was preparing this article, Musk still hadn’t responded to requests for comment from the media or tweeted anything. We should know soon enough, however. We’ll update this if and when we have an answer.

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John Stossel 12:40 AM | April 12, 2024
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