Elon Musk ignored warnings from confidantes including Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s David Zaslav and his own brother that he was driving advertisers away with his erratic behavior, according to an upcoming biography.
(Bloomberg) — Elon Musk ignored warnings from confidantes including Warner Bros. Discovery Inc.’s David Zaslav and his own brother that he was driving advertisers away with his erratic behavior, according to an upcoming biography.
The billionaire owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, has a long list of wealthy, powerful advisors he habitually ignores, according to Walter Isaacson’s new biography. In the months surrounding Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter — when he was sending out provocative tweets — Zaslav cautioned about ‘self-destructive’ behaviors that were spooking advertisers.
Musk should instead focus on improving video and making better ads, the executive counseled, according to the book, which is coming out this week. The board of Tesla Inc., Chairman Robyn Denholm and his brother Kimbal Musk also warned Musk that controversies at X were hurting the car company’s brand.
But the billionaire didn’t seem to think his behavior was a problem and pushed back. He ignored former Intel Corp. CEO Bob Swan, who advised Musk about financing the Twitter deal, and repeatedly dismissed the views of lawyer Alex Spiro and wealth manager Jared Birchall, according to the book.
Read more: Twitter Rise in Harmful Content a Concern to Advertisers
Musk’s $44 billion takeover of the social media institution once known as Twitter has drawn criticism from an array of groups, from users for allegedly degrading the experience to advertisers and interest groups for allowing hate speech to flourish.
Twitter made a series of changes under Musk, such as laying off trust and safety employees, reinstating accounts previously banned for violating the platform’s policies, and removing verification labels on high-profile accounts that don’t pay for a checkmark. Those changes, in addition to turning off advertisers, have alienated many users. Twitter’s advertising revenue had fallen by half, Musk posted on X in July. The company has countered by saying it’s addressing harmful content in a number of ways.
Around that time, X’s owner did heed the advice of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, who told him to avoid getting into a fight with Apple Inc.
Musk had called out the iPhone maker for pausing advertising on his platform last November. But Ellison cautioned him against damaging that relationship since Apple was a major marketer and X needed to stay on the iPhone’s App Store. Musk then reached out to Apple’s Tim Cook to make amends.
The billionaire’s other influential advisors included venture capitalists David Sacks and Marc Andreessen. Isaacson’s book paints Musk as a largely impulsive decision-maker who oscillates between listening to their advice and ignoring them.
At times, he even seemed to derive pleasure from going against their advice, Isaacson wrote. The consistent theme was that when Musk has his mind set, not even those closest to him can change it.
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