In a continuation of my thinking about how Elon Musk makes his business moves, I have been reading about the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk.
This takeover has aroused enormous discussion, not to mention criticism, both of Elon’s motivation for acquiring Twitter and of the way in which in was carried out and the current management style.
I think I have identified the general direction Musk is going in, and the reasons for his actions. Why Twitter? Why a social network? After all, Musk’s previous endeavors have been mainly hardware oriented: Self driving electric vehicles, reusable rockets, satellites.
I think Elon’s basic motivation is to create an alternative world, that can function relatively independently from the existing legacy systems, all of which are dominated by entrenched players. The existing payment system was slow and monopolized when Paypal was created, ushering in the field of non-bank online payment systems. Vehicular transport was making miniscule progress measured over decades when Tesla ushered in an electric car that was better than ICE and, more importantly, had it’s own charging network. Government dominated space programs rotted to the degree that the US had no independent launch system for nearly a decade after 2011. SpaceX entered this niche.
Fine, you say. Elon knows how to recognize an opportunity and move on it. That’s no different from any other entrepreneur. In the case of Twitter, critics say that he both overpaid and is running it into the ground. Hardly the mark of a good businessman.
But perhaps the alternative world musk is creating, one which rises out of the ashes of the increasingly dysfunctional, ossified, partisan, and politically-divided existing world in which censorship and manipulation are widespread, needs its own social network and independent means of gathering and spreading information. Seen in this light, buying the only widely known social network that was available for purchase was not only worthwhile, but essential. The hefty price tag was worth it.