Op-Ed: To tweet or not to tweet, now that Elon’s the boss.
On August 17, Elon Musk took to Twitter—to talk about the solar roofs on Teslas, to make fun of Google, to suggest building an electric car that can drive itself, to tweet about his new car’s supposed name—and almost immediately, one thing became crystal clear: Twitter is a serious business. The company has gone from a free alternative for celebrities and public figures to “the most valuable company for a second time in your career,” according to the Financial Times.
It’s a place where almost everyone can make a first impression, and the people who run the service know that you never want to come off as a jerk. So, Elon had done it again: When he sent in his third tweet, he set off a round of speculation about whether he was taking a break from tweeting, was resigning, or—God forbid—was in the midst of a nervous breakdown. He responded, not with a joke about a new software product, but rather, with the most surprising statement I’ve heard from him in a long time.
In May, Elon Musk published an op-ed for The New York Times defending his decision to tweet—and later deleting most of it—about a Tesla car battery fire that affected 17 people on the road in May. “I have to draw a line between the public speaking I do as a consultant for Tesla and the tweeting I do as chairman and chief executive of Tesla,” he wrote about the Tesla car fire incident. “The one should be more accurate, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual, factual. The other is fine if it’s only for the public, but as executive chairman of a public company I always have to be careful about what I say.”
As I thought through what Elon did with his next tweet (the one that got most of the headlines, though not as many people followed it), I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a “mea culpa,” a second-gu