Apr 5, 2022 - Economy

Elon Musk's power grab

Photo illustration of Elon Musk.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Christian Marquardt - Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk is now officially ensconced as the richest person in the world. By using his social and financial clout to muscle his way onto the board of Twitter, he's working hard to become a full-fledged mogul, generously endowed with all three parts of the great trinity of money, fame, and power.

Why it matters: Musk accumulated his money through Tesla and SpaceX. He accumulated much of his fame through Twitter. Now he's working on power, the toughest and rarest component of the three.

The big picture: Even after its share-price surge in the past couple of days, Twitter is worth less than 20% of Musk's net worth. While poorer or more old-fashioned billionaires might look to newspapers or magazines or TV channels as their route to moguldom, Musk now has his eyes on an entire social network — one that is powerful enough to have propelled Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

  • The intrigue: Musk has an absolutist position when it comes to speech norms on Twitter, and is unperturbed when his tweets cause real suffering. Great power, he seems to believe, comes with no great responsibility at all.

Driving the news: Less than 24 hours after revealing his ownership of a 9.2% stake in Twitter, Musk found himself appointed to the company's board of directors. Twitter founder (and Musk friend) Jack Dorsey acclaimed the move, saying Musk would make for "an incredible team" with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

  • Between the lines: Musk in December compared Agrawal to Josef Stalin, which may or may not be a lesser insult than "pedo guy".

For the record: Twitter's CEO and newest board member exchanged seemingly friendly tweets this morning.

Via Twitter

How it works: Musk has a close friendship and affinity with Jack Dorsey, the only Twitter co-founder on the board of directors. The two of them could easily execute a plan to take Twitter private, but given their influence at board level, that might not even be necessary.

The bottom line: Mark Zuckerberg is not the richest person in the business world, but he is the most powerful, thanks to his control of Facebook. Elon Musk, if he ends up controlling Twitter, could rival Zuckerberg's power.

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