The tech entrepreneur may be stepping down sooner than expected
Yesterday Elon Musk ran a Twitter poll asking whether he should step down as head of the social media company. By voting’s close this morning, 17.5 million people had weighed in, with over 57% of them saying that Musk should indeed relinquish his position (presumably that of CEO, while he would remain owner).
If the tech entrepreneur is as good as his word to “abide by the results of this poll”, Twitter will need a new chief executive. Here are the potential runners and riders for the job:
1. David Sacks
The investor and founding member (alongside Musk) of PayPal has been a key figure behind Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, pre-empting some of his friend’s more eye-catching decisions in charge. A partner at Craft Ventures, Sacks also shares the Tesla chief’s outspoken approach on anything from Covid to Ukraine, as well as a bullish stance on free speech, telling UnHerd last month that he hoped Musk’s takeover would “inspire other people to push back against these authoritarian tendencies in the West”. If Musk does cede control of Twitter, at least nominally, he would likely hand over to a trusted lieutenant like Sacks.
2. Jared Kushner
The son-in-law of former president Donald Trump was pictured with Musk at Sunday’s World Cup final in Qatar, prompting speculation over the connection between the two men. A White House senior advisor during the Trump administration, Kushner’s private equity firm this year received a $2 billion investment from a Saudi Arabian fund led by the country’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Twitter’s second largest shareholder, after Musk, is another Saudi royal, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.
3. Lex Fridman
Fridman, a Russian-American computer scientist and podcast host, threw his hat into the ring yesterday, offering to run the company for free while “focus[ing] on great engineering and increasing the amount of love in the world”. Musk responded to Fridman’s suggestion approvingly, while the MIT researcher (whose area of interest is artificial intelligence) received endorsement from, among others, Jordan Peterson. Fridman has some insight into how Twitter is run: his eponymous podcast has played host not only to the company’s current head but also to its co-founder, Jack Dorsey.
4. Changpeng Zhao
The co-founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance is also a major investor in Twitter, with his company reportedly pumping half a billion dollars into Musk’s project. Zhao, known by his initials CZ, has a net worth of over $13 billion but faces scrutiny into his running of Binance, following the collapse of rival exchange FTX. A supporter of Musk’s, CZ today implored Twitter’s current chief executive to stay in post, but could muster interest in overseeing the operation himself, not least with his own finances potentially under threat.
5. Snoop Dogg
If Musk’s departure is determined by popular vote, it would be fitting for his successor to be selected by the same method. Enter rapper Snoop Dogg, who asked his followers whether he should run Twitter before receiving over a million votes in favour. As the owner of the renowned label Death Row Records, he has some executive experience too. In 2014 the artist behind ‘Doggy Dogg World’ was one of several investors, alongside Peter Thiel and Sam Altman, to contribute a combined $50 million in fundraising for Reddit.
These possibilities are entirely contingent on Musk actually leaving his post, and even if he does step down, some believe that he will continue to pull strings from the shadows. The most likely successor would be an Elon acolyte, like the aforementioned Sacks or his podcast co-host and fellow member of the inner circle Jason Calacanis. That said, with an owner this unpredictable Twitter users should brace themselves, as ever with Musk, for the unexpected.