Has Texas Changed Elon Musk?
From Pushing to Buy Twitter to New Factory Parties to Space, the World's Richest Human is Just Getting StartedBY Courtney Dabney // 04.16.22
Elon Musk is stirring things up as only this eccentric billionaire can. Just ask Twitter.
Elon Musk had plenty to say (as usual) in his TED Talk.
Elon Musk's personal Twitter account boasts 81.7 million followers.
Elon Musk is having quite a run — and he’s just getting revved up. Musk is now considering bringing in partners on his well-publicized bid for Twitter after the company enacted a poison pill maneuver to try and stop him from acquiring it. Musk was in Berlin, Germany at the end of March overseeing the opening of his new Gigafactory there. Then, with great fanfare, including his Cyber Rodeo, he launched a new Tesla Gigafactory in Austin last week.
Musk came to the stage at the opening festivities for the $1.1 billion Austin factory in a pair of jeans, completing the outfit with a Western belt buckle and a black felt cowboy hat. He also drove a prototype of the Cybertruck that fans have been clamoring to get.
Of course, Musk’s purchase of nine percent of Twitter’s stock set off a firestorm of speculation, debate, and controversy. He was offered a seat on the board, which would have capped any purchasing of Twitter stock by Musk at 14.9 percent, and would have bound him to a fiduciary role as well. He predictably declined that seat.
Musk took to the stage Thursday at TED2022 in Vancouver and was introduced by the head of TED Talks Chris Anderson as the “biggest visionary of them all.” This happened the same day that Musk offered to buy Twitter for $43 billion, seeking 100 percent ownership of the social media platform.
All in a day’s work for the world’s richest human?
Musk showed up for his TED talk dressed in a white button-down shirt and navy suit with a long coat. His choice of footwear was a pair of black roper-style boots. It seems like Texas is making a real impression on one of the most interesting, eccentric, and powerful men on the planet.
Musk officially moved Tesla’s operations from California to Texas in December of 2021, and his SpaceX flights launch from Boca Chica, Texas, very close to the Rio Grande River and the border of Mexico. This is also where Elon Musk has a home — a modular mini-house near the SpaceX test site.
When asked why he made the massive purchase offer to acquire Twitter during the live TED interview, Musk shot back: “Well, I think it is very important for. . . that it be an inclusive arena for free speech. Twitter has become the de facto town square.
“It’s really important that people have the reality and the perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.”
Musk’s personal Twitter account boasts 82.1 million followers and is growing. He is one of the biggest stars of the platform.
“One of the things that I believe Twitter should do is open source the algorithm, and make any changes to people’s tweets, if they are emphasized or deemphasized, that action should be made apparent,” Musk says. “So anyone could see that action has been taken. So there’s no behind-the-scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.
“It’s important to the function of democracy. It’s important to the United States as a free country, and many other countries, and to help freedom in the world, more broadly than the U.S. So I think. . . the civilizational risk is decreased if Twitter. . . the more we increase the trust of Twitter as a public platform.”
Musk prides himself on being a risk-taker, (creating Tesla and reaching volume production ―something no other electric vehicle company in the United States has achieved — and literally reaching for the stars with SpaceX).
In trying to take control of Twitter, which is still considered a long shot by most analysts, Musk is reaching again.
“I can technically afford it,” Musk says of trying to buy Twitter. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”
Many conservatives are celebrating Musk’s push to try and buy Twitter.
“A good sign as to whether there is free speech is: Is someone you don’t like allowed to say something you don’t like?” Musk says. “And if that is the case, then we have free speech.”
Musk’s other proposed plans for Twitter include getting rid of scams and bots. And perhaps adding an edit button. Musk knows he is controversial.
“I’m somewhat of a mixed bag,” he says in describing himself.
To say that Elon Musk is driven is an understatement. He recalled the time that he spent living at a factory and sleeping on the floor for three solid years, just to bring the Tesla Model 3 into production, in his TED Talk interview. Musk says Tesla was constantly hovered on the verge of bankruptcy. While he was teetering on the edge of sanity.
“At this point, I think I know more about manufacturing than anyone currently alive on earth,” Musk claims.
The TED Talk interview traveled through Musk’s vision for a sustainable energy future, and how his Asperger’s affects his thought process. Musk believes it shaped him. Since he was not intuitive with social cues, Musk says he became “bookish” as a youth. He said that interpersonal communication can be a challenge since he takes people’s words very literally.
Musk paints his study of physics and computer science as being based on a curiosity for truth. “The why of things is very important,” he says.
Elon Musk is used to making things work the way he wants them to work. Like many a powerful Texan.