Apr 25, 2022 - Technology

America’s most powerful man

This originally appeared in Axios Finish Line — our healthy, helpful newsletter, hitting your inbox as the day winds down. Sign up here.

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<span style='margin-top: auto; margin-bottom: auto'>&nbsp;The Musk empire</span>
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Data: Axios research; Table: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Elon Musk is running some of the most important platforms in media ... and electric cars ... and underground travel ... and private space trips ... and brain-implanted computer chips ... and batteries.

Why it matters: Name a person, perhaps outside the U.S. president, with more commercial and cultural clout.

  • Spoiler: You can’t.

Driving the news: Musk just reached a deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion, putting him in charge of the online public square. That adds yet another lever of control to Musk's already formidable arsenal. (Here's everything he has already said he wants to change about the platform.)

It’s hard to find anyone in history with this much reach into so many sectors of great consequence at one time.

Just consider the numbers:

  1. Estimated wealth: Musk is worth $270 billion, which makes him the richest man in the world.
  2. Total employees: Some 111,000 people work for Musk at his various companies — Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and the Boring Company. He adds 7,500 with Twitter.
  3. Total Twitter followers: He's got 84.2 million, putting him at eighth-most-followed.
  4. Media mentions: Musk is by far the most talked about billionaire, with 7 million social media mentions in the last three months. Bill Gates is a distant second with 2 million mentions.

What to watch: Musk has said he will use Twitter to force a rethinking of free speech, pushing for maximal individual power to say what you want to say — and hear what you want to hear.

  • Love him or hate him, he has his mitts on your Twitter feed, your electric car, an underground tunnel to drive it through, your ticket to Mars ... and a chip in your brain to store your memory.
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