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 unscientific poll, which began Sunday evening and concluded with 57.5% voting yes, 42.5% 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.
Musk did not immediately react to the outcome of the vote.
Hours before launching the poll, Musk was publicly criticized even by some former supporters in the tech industry for a controversial new policy that had banned links to certain other social media platforms. The policy was deleted less than 24 hours after its introduction. Musk also said that “going forward,” he would poll Twitter’s users to let them decide on policy changes.
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The unusual turn of events highlights how Musk has seemingly abandoned a more careful deliberation process in favor of operating by his own whims. Musk, who has a history of erratic behavior and controversial remarks, has recently engaged in an apparent one-way feud with Apple, spread a conspiracy theory about the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, and made at least one decision about who to allow on Twitter based on his own feelings.
Musk’s rhetoric and changes to the platform have created more uncertainty around advertisers, who make up the vast majority of Twitter’s business. Since Musk completed his Twitter takeover in October, a number of brands have paused advertising on the platform. Musk has frequently stated that Twitter’s finances are dire. Twitter is on pace to lose $4 billion a year after the advertiser exodus, estimates Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities.
Replying to a tweet Sunday, in which MIT artificial intelligence researcher Lex Fridman said he would take the CEO job, Musk hinted he hasn’t been completely happy with his new gig.
“You must like pain a lot,” Musk tweeted, noting the company “has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May.”
The poll inspired other volunteers, as well. The rapper Snoop Dogg created his own Twitter poll Sunday evening, asking: “Should I run Twitter?” As of early Monday morning, it had 1.3 million votes with over 80% of respondents saying yes.
Yet Musk denied that he has a new CEO in mind.
“No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted. “The question is not finding a CEO, the question is finding a CEO who can keep Twitter alive.”
Musk has sold billions of dollars worth of Tesla stock, most likely to pay for his purchase of Twitter. That has sent Tesla’s stock sinking 11% over the past month. But Tesla shares were up 5% in premarket trading after the poll results were revealed.
“This has been a black eye moment for Musk and been a major overhang on Tesla’s stock which continues to suffer in a brutal way since the Twitter soap opera began with brand deterioration related to Musk a real issue,” Ives said in a note to clients Monday.
With or without the CEO title, however, Musk will almost certainly continue to control the company’s direction.
After taking over Twitter, Musk dissolved the company’s board and its C-Suite emptied out. As the sole board director and owner of the company, Musk can appoint the next CEO – and also tell that person what to do in the role.
In place of Twitter’s former leadership, Musk tapped venture capitalists and friends to work with him as he weighed a number of significant changes to the company. The list includes investor Jason Calacanis, Craft Ventures partner David Sacks and Sriram Krishnan, an Andreessen Horowitz general partner focused on crypto and Twitter’s former consumer teams lead.
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Some of those individuals could now be on the shortlist to take over as CEO if Musk makes good on his promise and steps down.
Shortly after Musk posted his latest poll, Calacanis posted a poll of his own asking who should become Twitter’s next CEO: himself, Sacks, or Calacanis and Sacks together as co-CEOs.
As of this publication, a fourth option was winning by a wide margin: “Other.”
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