Elon Musk is still not ‘reading the room’

Tesla boss will remain heavily involved at Twitter and will continue tweeting despite appointing a new chief for social media firm

Investors and analysts responded well to Elon Musk’s decision to step down as head of Twitter, with shares briefly popping higher on the news.

For some time, shareholders have been calling on Musk to pay more attention to Tesla. Last month, 17 large shareholders penned an open letter accusing Musk of being “overcommitted” and “distracted”. Accordingly, the appointment of a new boss at Twitter was greeted enthusiastically by analysts, with Wedbush saying Musk was “finally reading the room”.

That assessment may be unduly optimistic. Musk will still be heavily involved at Twitter. Perhaps more importantly, he will continue tweeting. “I’ll say what I want, and if the consequence of that is losing money, so be it,” he said last week.

That sounds noble, but there’s nothing noble about Musk’s increasingly poisonous utterings. Last week, he sparked outrage after tweeting that George Soros, a frequent target of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists, “wants to erode the very fabric of civilisation” and “hates humanity”. Musk has also been arguing against the claim that a gunman in a Texas mass shooting is a white supremacist, despite his Nazi tattoos and other evidence.


Musk’s attention-seeking antics have hurt Tesla’s brand over the past year. He may be stepping down at Twitter, but last week’s carry-on suggests Musk will continue testing the patience of exasperated shareholders.

Proinsias O'Mahony

Proinsias O'Mahony

Proinsias O’Mahony, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes the weekly Stocktake column