Elon Musk's downfall

Elon Musk: Once the Real-Life Tony Stark, Now the Real-Life Lex Luthor?

Joseph Thomas
23rd November 2022
Image Credit: CNBC
On 27th October in a deal characterised by childlike arguing over contracts, Elon Musk formally bought Twitter. In the following hours and days, he demonstrated a poor control over the company. This led to a series of mass lay-offs, defacement of public figures and a surge in racist rhetoric. Twitter was not Musk’s first failing as a businessman and will not be his last. 

The son of emerald-mine-rich parents, Musk did not create his own wealth from his genius ideas as he would have you believe. First in this comes PayPal. Musk acquired the service in 2000 as part of a merger with Confinity, an early internet bank. The company’s board regarded him as an inexperienced CEO and ousted him later that year. Despite this, Musk’s ownership of the majority of shares in PayPal, led to an amassing of $175m when it was sold. Musk did not found PayPal and was regarded as an incompetent leader, yet still profited. 

Incompetency continued with Tesla. In September 2018 Musk was charged with securities fraud for misleading tweets by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Musk tweeted about taking the company private at $420 a share, a significant premium to market value. This increased the value of the company’s shares, leading to significant gains for Musk. The fact he manipulated markets for his own personal gain set a dangerous precedent. Recent tweets claiming Tesla shares were “too high” prompted more change to the company’s value. 

Musk did not found PayPal and was regarded as an incompetent leader, yet still profited

Moving on to Musk’s ‘genius’ ideas, it is worth looking at the Boring Company. The company’s main purpose is to reduce traffic flows in cities through use of a series of underground tunnels. Solutions to this problem already exist. Investment into traditional public transport systems would vastly reduce traffic. Yet, Musk remains certain that this is the solution. The company undoubtedly takes public money from city councils and monopolises the transport network to Musk. 

In addition to this the Boring Company has suffered numerous design failings. Las Vegas is the only complete project thus far. The tunnels are too small for the autopilot system to work so cars are chauffeur driven at low speeds. Sleek ideas of a ‘car elevator’ are replaced with an on foot accessed station. This has simply created a much less efficient version of underground rail. 

Musk has displayed an aggressive attitude towards criticism. A major case in this is the Thai cave incident. Musk offered to help the trapped boys by building a drone piloted submarine. He never followed through on this plan. Upon criticism from the rescuers, he called British cave diver Vern Unsworth a “pedo guy.” Quite frankly this was slander. Musk abused his power in a situation when criticised by those more experienced and knowledgeable than him. The behaviour is childish at best. 

This brings me back to Twitter. Further criticisms and parodies of Musk have prompted him to backtrack on his free speech ideology. A considerable number of employees have been laid off with higher workloads now expected from remaining employees. It is clear that Musk’s management of companies is as ineffective now as it was 20 years ago with PayPal. 

The reinstatement of former US president Donald Trump on 20th November sets a worrying tone for the future of the platform. 

In essence, Musk’s self-perpetuated ideas about being a tech genius and inventor are a fallacy. Bluntly, he is less modern-day Tesla and more Edison. 

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