May 5, 2022 - Economy & Business

"Distraction worries" mount for Elon Musk with interim CEO report

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Joshua Lott via Getty Images

How many jobs are too many?

Why it matters: Elon Musk is testing the boundaries of what it means to be stretched thin, having apparently agreed to become the temporary CEO of Twitter if and when he closes his deal to acquire the company.

  • As the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, as well as founder-boss of The Boring Company and Neuralink, Musk already has his hands full.

Threat level: "Distraction worries" are real for investors in his companies, Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives wrote in a research note.

  • “Overboarding” is a concern for executives who agree to serve on too many boards while trying to do their day job, Columbia Business School Professor Bill Klepper, an expert on corporate governance, tells Axios. "Musk is in a similar situation if he intends to manage multiple mandates."

Keep in mind: When Jack Dorsey was serving concurrently as CEO of Twitter and Square (now Block), some investors eventually lost faith in his ability to do both at once.

  • He eventually gave up the Twitter job.

Yes, but: The news of Musk taking the interim CEO role at Twitter is based on only one report. And even that report said he would fill the role only for a few months.

  • But the fact that Musk would personally step in at all provides a clue to the question many have had since he announced his intent to buy Twitter: How active does he intend to be in its management?

Reality check: Musk also might be better at delegating than he gets credit for. At SpaceX, for example, President Gwynne Shotwell runs the show, while Musk is the visionary.

What we're watching: How long Musk lasts at the helm of Twitter and whom he picks for the permanent job.

  • One option, Klepper says, is for Musk to form a conglomerate and hire a CEO for each company while he serve as the conglomerate's CEO.

Related: Elon Musk raises $7 billion in new funding for Twitter buyout

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