With Elon Musk agreeing to resign as CEO after he conducted a Twitter poll asking whether he should step down and 57.5% of the 17 million respondents said yes, the question is who should run the troubled company and how he will entice anyone to do it.
One potential candidate who told Musk in April that being CEO of Twitter was his “dream job” tech investor Jason Calacanis sent out his own Twitter poll—with emojis showing it was in jest—asking whether he, investor and former technology David Sacks, or “Other” should be named CEO. Ironically, the majority of respondents voted for “Other.”
He later tweeted, perhaps in jest, “Who would like the most miserable job in tech AND media?! Who is insane enough to run twitter?!?!” Another user tweeted that technology investor Joe Lonsdale should get the job, he responded, “Lol, no thanks.” There does not appear to be overwhelming interest in the job from people who would have the skill set to run the company.
Shares in Tesla fell 18% this week and are down more than 60% since Musk announced his plans to buy Twitter Inc. Clearly shareholders in Tesla believe he is spending too much time on Twitter, being CEO of multiple companies at the same time nearly always ends badly. Musk now owns shares in Tesla worth $52 billion.
Even officials at NASA have begun asking whether his recent changes at Twitter are a distraction from the life-or-death matters which influence decision making at SpaceX.
On December 20, longtime Tesla investor Ross Gerber tweeted that it was time for a shakeup saying its “stock price now reflects the value of having no CEO.”
It is clear that there are many challenges ahead for Musk at Twitter, but the one which must be addressed immediately is attracting his core base of advertisers back to the platform. The company is clearly in the midst of a chaotic mess, with employees being let go left and right, and advertisers—the bread and butter of Twitter’s business—abandoning ship in droves.
An alarming statistic from research firm Pathmatics was recently published in The Wall Stret Journal—roughly 70% of Twitter’s top 100 advertisers were not spending on Twitter for the week ending December 18. And although Musk and his team have held meetings with major advertisers in recent weeks, they have been unable to entice them to come back.
Given that almost 90% of Twitter’s $5.1 billion in revenue came from advertising last year, this should be Musk’s top priority, not figuring out whose accounts should be suspended or reinstated. Twitter has offered some advertisers to match dollar for dollar their ad spend up to $1 million if they did so by year-end. However, even this economic enticement was not enough to get many back on board.
Musk’s team has met with advertisers and told them they are making innovations to allow users to make purchases directly, add more video capabilities and develop tools to ensure objectionable content doesn’t pop up next to their ads.
Some ad buyers have said they will wait until these tools have already been developed before deciding whether to return to Twitter, particularly given that we are likely to enter a recession. Speaking Tuesday on Twitter Spaces, Musk said, advertisers are asking for a high return on investment on their ad spend. “Their requests are not fuzzy or irrational or anything. They’re like, quite reasonable.”
However, some advertisers have complained about politicizing Twitter, in particular Musk tweeting just before the mid-term elections that independent-minded voters vote for a Republican Congress.