by Izabella Kaminska
Friday, 27
May 2022
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11:30

Elon Musk isn’t Tony Stark — he’s Han Solo

These two loveable rogues share a fondness for money-making stunts
by Izabella Kaminska
The force is strong with this one

If Elon Musk’s $44bn offer to buy Twitter was a new hope for free speech, then news on Thursday that investors have filed a suit alleging potential stock price manipulation by the eccentric billionaire is clear evidence that the Empire is striking back.

This is apt.

While Elon Musk is often compared to Tony Stark, the billionaire industrialist and genius behind Marvel superhero Iron Man, a better comparison may be with Han Solo, the wily galactic opportunist — and captain of the Millenium Falcon rather than the Falcon 9 rocket — who specialises in the art of faking it until he makes it, but also perpetually having to sweet-talk his way out of trouble.

Like Solo, Elon likes to exaggerate his abilities. This cocksure behaviour more often than not leaves both in hot water or carbonite, either with the authorities or other power players circling their orbit. In the end, Solo’s dicey history with Jabba the Hutt nearly proves his unmaking. Elon’s own legacy troubles with the Securities and Exchange Commission — a famed bounty setter in its own right — are possibly about to bite back on him too.

Twitter investors are miffed Elon used the very platform he was trying to buy to weasel his way out of the £44bn price tag he had already agreed to. This is because on May 13 Elon tweeted the deal was “temporarily on hold pending details supporting calculation that spam/fake accounts do indeed represent less than 5% of users”.

This is something you just can’t do under securities law if you have waived the right to due diligence under the buyout contract. At the time, of course, nobody could be sure if Elon really meant what he was saying. Was this just more scoundrel behaviour designed to excite the media and keep audiences hooked? Or was there a greater strategy at play? With Elon, just like with Solo, it’s often hard to know.

The suit’s proposition, however, is clear. Elon didn’t really care about unmasking the bad droid armies of Twitter. His objective was to manipulate the price of Twitter stock, seemingly to annoy current investors and Twitter employees.

This sort of manipulation, they imply, is habitual for Elon. They add that he saved himself $156m because he failed to disclose the extent of his Twitter purchases between March and April, and in so doing pushed the stock price artificially lower. 

The suit, which is being led by William Heresniak, goes on to claim Musk’s disregard for securities laws demonstrates how one can flaunt the law and the tax code to build their wealth at the expense of the other Americans. 

That too is in keeping with the idea that Solo is only interested in money and not any sort of revolution. The fact that the Dark Side has suddenly cancelled a million voices from the galaxy is merely incidental.

But then again, the appeal of Solo’s character in the end is that underneath it all, he really is a good guy. In the Star Wars narrative, he ends up doing the right thing — persuaded from the sidelines by a ragtag cabal of mystic warriors and traditionalist royals into serving the Rebel Alliance. He comes to define in this way the libertarian principle that in a free system everyone must be given the right to err, and that when it matters you fall in line against the forces of division and hate.

That ironically is also in tune with rumours that those really pulling Elon’s strings on the deal are a shadowy clique of libertarian freedom fighters who have grown concerned about the power of the “woke mind virus”. Just how Elon is going to get himself out of this scrap, however, is anyone’s guess. All analogies have their limits.

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David Kingsworthy
David Kingsworthy
30 days ago

Yeah maybe, but I think he’s a lot more authentic than the author asserts. I think the Stark comparison is still accurate. He doesn’t need to manipulate prices. Free speech is the only thing money can’t buy, but he’s willing to part with serious money to improve this particular platform.

David Smith
David Smith
30 days ago

Why do women authors almost always fail to understand men in general, but successful, dynamic men (who don’t follow female rules of order), in particular.
As a specialist physician, I have noticed that the majority of health care administrators and HR people are female and they set increasingly restrictive, authoritarian rules that maintain “order” while harming patient care and any medical staff member that speaks out for patient care.
The new term is a “disruptive physician” and surprisingly they are usually men.

David Smith
David Smith
30 days ago

This author is essentially wrong on every point she makes.
Seriously – “opportunist”, “faking it till he makes it”, exaggerating his abilities”. Musk has created several new technology companies showing creativity, brilliance and perserverance against great odds. Does the author know what those terms mean?
Her assumptions about Musks offer to buy Twitter shows her ignorance of financial dealings while she chides him like a teenage girl for misunderstanding SEC rules.
The most glaring example is her failure to understand even the most basic principles of Libertarianism. It is not that “everyone must be given the right to err … and when it matters you fall in line against the forces of division and hate”. She has the arrogance to define a political philosophy she knows absolutely nothing about.
The last line about a “shadowy clique of libertarian freedom fighters” pulling Elon’s strings is cartoonish

DNY 0
DNY 0
26 days ago
Reply to  David Smith

“Fake it until you make it” might be a little extreme in Musk’s case, but someone said of his tech judgement “If Elon Musk tells you something can be done, you should probably believe him. If Elon Musk tells you something can be done by a certain date, you should probably not believe him.” It’s that gap between predicted date and delivery that involves faking it, but he has, thus far, always made it.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
30 days ago

Fascinating that so many people think they are cleverer than him. He is in fact uniquely clever.

David Smith
David Smith
30 days ago

He is creative, intelligent and willing to try things that others say will fail.
They are the uncreative, unintelligent and live lives of failure in which they critique those in the arena of sweat and blood.

David Simpson
David Simpson
30 days ago

I guess, if Elon has any sort of plan, it’s to keep everyone guessing. And then jump, one way or the other, depending

Cale Brownstead
Cale Brownstead
28 days ago

At least the author is posting in a place that allows comments… Most of the career unsuccessful leftist Musk haters are behind the protection of the new left media which doesn’t allow comments any more because it immediately exposes their journalistic skills.

Andy O'Gorman
Andy O'Gorman
28 days ago

Whether he be Tony Stark or Han Solo is quite immaterial. He has upset the loony left and they are now running for cover – using their usual despicable manifestations to discredit him.

All power too him.

Sam Sky
Sam Sky
29 days ago

I generally tire of debates on Elon Musk: put your money were your mouth is, either go long or short on his businesses, the rest is hot air.