It may be the most obvious statement of the decade, but we do need to remember that Elon Musk is on a different planet when it comes to running a company — something that so far he’s done pretty well. That’s the take on the Twitter/SpaceX/Tesla CEO from Glasswing Ventures analyst Jim Anderson, who thinks by picking fights with Apple and tearing down Twitter and its advertising business, Musk is aiming at making subscriptions Twitter’s bread and butter.
“I think ultimately he’s trying to get attention right? Irrelevance is the worst fate if you’re a showman, and [Musk] very much is,” says Anderson, speaking on BNN Bloomberg on Tuesday.
“He wants to grow Twitter subscription business. Interestingly, he seems to be destroying advertising revenue as a way to equalize the subscription and the advertising revenue. That’s maybe a new business strategy that not many of us would would think is the right way to go,” he said.
Musk, who bought Twitter and took it private last month, has caused ire and consternation across the tech community for promptly firing top executives at the social media company immediately after taking possession, following up with more staff firings and the issuing of ultimatums which in the end resulted in 2/3 of Twitter’s employees now out the door.
The latest noise from Musk was a series of tweets this week where he criticized Apple for imposing a “secret 30 per cent tax” and claimed Apple had been threatening to withhold Twitter from its App Store, a move which would be a significant setback for the company and complicate the relaunch of Twitter’s paid subscription model, Twitter Blue Verified.
Musk took a swing at Apple’s practice concerning the regulation of platforms available on the App Store through its Censorship by Apple standards of practice, a policy that seems to rile the Twitter CEO and his stance in support of free speech in all forms. Musk tweeted, “Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America.”
Anderson thinks by the standards of most businesses, Musk looks to be running Twitter into the ground or at the very least wrecking its money-making model, but in reality, Musk is playing the game by different rules.
“Many CEOs who would behave the way he’s done, who could come in and lay off or get rid of effectively two-thirds of the workforce, take enormous risks with a multibillion dollar company and basically say, ‘Well, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just file for bankruptcy, ‘ — most CEOs would get themselves fired for doing that,” Anderson said.
“But this is Elon Musk. If you define success in his terms where he’s relevant, he’s driving the agenda (we’re talking about him) then, ultimately, I think he has a chance of being successful,” he said.