No one has yet understood what prompted Elon Musk to spend $44bn to acquire Twitter – now renamed X – in October 2022, only to wreak havoc on the social media platform.
In the year since, the social media network has lost half its value, despite what Musk originally portrayed as an effort to save the “bluebird” platform.
Throughout, Twitter’s fortunes have fluctuated, and the site has been transformed – losing its reputation in the process – while Musk and his decisions for it have been a mainstay topic for its own users and those on other networks.
Before analysing all that, it is helpful to first look at Musk’s personality for clues about his motivation in what has looked, from the outside, like a bizarre series of events.
In his biography of Musk, the author and former head of CNN, Walter Isaacson, says the world’s richest person does not have a traditional approach to success. Rather than indulging in satisfaction, Musk relishes challenges and the chance to resolve crises, even if he creates them himself.
Techniques include setting unrealistic deadlines for projects to be completed. Such tactics can boost productivity but expose Musk and the people working for him to constant pressure and stress.
He is also remarkably forward-thinking, focusing on the wider interests of humanity. He puts these long-term, large-scale ambitions before his own.
A passion for innovation, a willingness to take risks, and a determination to defy established norms — and even rules — have made Musk extremely successful via globally famous companies like Tesla and SpaceX.
But his ability to make professional decisions devoid of emotion, and his determination to the point of being stubborn, can produce characteristic rigidity. People are finding it increasingly difficult to see the logic in Musk’s approach.
In the book Breaking Twitter, which gained similar repute to Isaacson’s biography, the writer Ben Mezrich neatly summed up events: "Elon Musk didn't just break Twitter; Twitter broke Elon Musk."
Is he right?
Read more: Goodbye Twitter, hello “X”