Business Elon Musk: Twitter users vote in favour of boss resigning
Image source, Getty Images

Image source, Getty Images

Twitter users have voted in favour of Elon Musk stepping down as the platform’s chief executive after the billionaire ran a poll on his future.

A total of 57.5% voted “yes” after Mr Musk asked his 122 million followers whether he should stand down.

Mr Musk, who bought Twitter for $44bn (£36bn), said before the poll closed that he would abide by the result.

The technology tycoon, who also runs Tesla and Space X, has faced much criticism since taking over the site.

Mr Musk is yet to comment since the poll closed. Even if he were to resign as chief executive, he would remain as Twitter’s owner.

More than 17.5 million users voted in his poll on Monday, with 42.5% voting no to Mr Musk stepping down.

In the past Mr Musk has obeyed Twitter polls. He’s fond of quoting the phrase “vox populi, vox dei”, a Latin phrase which roughly means “the voice of the people is the voice of God”.

Mr Musk’s private jet appears to be on its way back from the World Cup in Qatar, where he was pictured at the final next to Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on Sunday.

View original tweet on Twitter

A former Twitter member of staff, who left the company recently, told the BBC that Mr Musk was “showing himself to be the incompetent fool we all knew he was”.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they added: “His investors are surely looking at this now and questioning whether he was the right horse to back.

“I imagine he’s getting pressure from investors to step down and is using this poll to make it look like he’s following the will of the people instead of the will of those paying his bills.”

Minutes before the polled closed, the founder of crypto exchange Binance replied to Mr Musk saying he should “stay the course” and not step down.

Changpeng Zhao is thought to be one of Twitter’s investors and said in May he had backed Mr Musk taking over by making a $500m investment.

Getty Images
Image caption, Elon Musk was pictured with Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner watching the World Cup final in Qatar on Sunday

Dan Ives, senior equity analyst at Wedbush Securities, told the BBC before the poll closed that he believed the vote would “ultimately” lead to the “ending of Musk’s reign as chief executive of Twitter”.

There has been a flurry of controversial changes at Twitter since Mr Musk bought the social media site.

He has fired about half of its staff and attempted a rollout of Twitter’s paid-for verification feature before putting it on pause. The feature was relaunched last week.

He has also been criticised for his approach to content moderation, with some civil liberties groups accusing him of taking steps that will increase hate speech and misinformation.

On Friday, Mr Musk was condemned by the United Nations and European Union over Twitter’s decision to suspend some journalists who cover the social media firm.

The UN tweeted that media freedom is “not a toy”, while the EU threatened Twitter with sanctions.

‘Circus show’

Mr Ives said the last few weeks and months had been a “black eye for Musk and a black eye for Tesla” which he said was the “golden child” because it is where most of the billionaire’s wealth is.

“Twitter right now – it’s a quicksand situation and I think it’s gotten worse since Musk took over Twitter. It’s been a circus show,” he added.

“I think ultimately in the next 24 hours Musk will probably name a new temporary CEO of Twitter.”

After starting the poll, Mr Musk tweeted: “As the saying goes, be careful what you wish, as you might get it.”

He added later: “Those who want power are the ones who least deserve it.”

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Mr Ives said he believed Mr Musk had realised he “cannot balance” being the boss of Twitter as well as his electric car company Tesla and space rocket firm SpaceX.

“The biggest problem is the more controversy he creates, advertisers leave and they run for the hills and that’s 90% of revenue for Twitter,” he added.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said investors at Tesla would be “closely watching” Mr Musk’s poll.

“Given how much of a distraction Musk’s tenure at Twitter has become, shareholders in the electric vehicle manufacturer will be breathing a big sigh of relief if he steps back from Twitter and gets back to the day job at Tesla,” he said.

“For someone who sets so much store by work ethic, Musk sure seems to spend a lot of time on social media. With Tesla shares having more than halved year-to-date, Musk needs to roll up his sleeves and get his main business back on the road.”

Timeline: Musk’s turbulent Twitter takeover

‘Chief Twit’ takes control

27 October 2022

Musk completes his $44bn (£38.1bn) takeover of Twitter, immediately firing a number of the company’s top executives and tweeting “the bird is freed”.

Before officially taking charge of the company, Musk changed his Twitter profile to read “Chief Twit” and turned up to Twitter HQ in San Francisco carrying a sink, saying: “Let that sink in!”

Platform battles ‘trolling campaign’

29 October

After a surge in tweets containing racist language, Twitter’s head of trust and safety says: “Hateful conduct has no place here.” Yoel Roth says the company is taking action against users “involved in this trolling campaign” to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.

Musk shares inaccurate story

30 October

Musk tweets an article containing a number of inaccuracies about an attack on the husband of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi by a hammer-wielding intruder. The site has a history of publishing inaccurate stories and Musk later deletes the tweet after a backlash.

Trump return dismissed – for now

31 October

With just over a week to go before the US midterm elections, Musk responds to questions about whether he will reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account on Twitter by tweeting: “If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump is coming back

Trump return dismissed – for now

31 October

With just over a week to go before the US midterm elections, Musk responds to questions about whether he will reinstate former President Donald Trump’s account on Twitter by tweeting: “If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if Trump is coming back on this platform, Twitter would be minting money!”

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Later that day, Musk attended a halloween party in New York and posed for photographs wearing a “Devil’s champion” costume.

Criticism over subscription service

1 November

Following reports that Twitter will begin charging users to have verified accounts, Musk responds to criticism from author Stephen King by saying: “We need to pay the bills somehow!”.

Musk moves to cut staff numbers

4 November

Employees at the company begin receiving emails entitled “Your Role at Twitter” informing them whether they have lost their jobs. Responding to news about the layoffs, Musk says “unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day”.

Yoel Roth, the head of trust and safety, said 50% of the company’s nearly 8,000 employees had been laid off but sought to reassure users and advertisers that the platform’s moderation capacity remained intact.

Twitter founder breaks silence

5 November

Twitter co-founder and ex-CEO Jack Dorsey breaks his silence over the Musk takeover to apologise to staff who have lost their jobs, saying: “I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly.”

Crackdown on parody accounts

6 November

Musk announces that Twitter accounts impersonating people without being clearly labelled a parody will be permanently suspended – a change to the previous process when accounts were given a warning first.

A number of accounts that changed their name to “Elon Musk” and mocked the billionaire had already been suspended or placed behind a warning sign.

Warnings about Twitter’s survival

9 November

In his first email to Twitter staff, Musk warns that the “economic picture ahead is dire” and adds: “Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn.”

Meanwhile, after the launch of the $8-a-month Twitter Blue subscription, which gives paying users a blue tick, a slew of parody accounts that appear to be verified emerge, including a fake George W Bush account that tweets: “I miss killing Iraqis”. Within days, the service is paused.

Key staff leave company

10 November

More high-profile staff quit, including head of trust and safety Yoel Roth and chief security officer Lea Kissner.

Musk cuts down on contractors

12 November

Reports in US media say thousands of contractors who had been working for Twitter have had their contracts terminated. Technology news site Platformer says as many as 80% of its 5,500 contractor workforce were laid off in the move but the company made no official announcement.

Staff told: Be hardcore or leave

16 November

In a late-night email to all Twitter staff, Musk says employees must commit to a “hardcore” culture of working “long hours at high intensity” or leave the company.

Company offices abruptly closed

17 November

In a surprise announcement, Twitter says its company offices will be closed temporarily. The move comes amid reports that large numbers of Twitter staff had resigned.

Responding to fears the platform was about to shut down due to losing key staff, Musk tweeted: “The best people are staying, so I’m not super worried.”

Twitter Blue relaunched

12 December

The paid-for verification feature Twitter Blue is relaunched. It is still $8 per month – but Twitter cranks it up to $11 for those using the app on Apple devices. Musk says he resents the commission fee Apple charges on in-app purchases.

Suspensions for location ‘doxxing’

15 December

Musk says he is taking legal action against the holder of the @ElonJet Twitter account that tracks his private jet, claiming it put his son at risk.

He also suspends the accounts of reporters for the New York Times, CNN and the Washington Post, among others, saying they had shared his location.

After condemnation from the UN, a threat of sanctions from the European Union, and a Twitter poll, Musk lifts the suspension for the journalists’ accounts, saying “the people have spoken”. The @ElonJet account remains suspended.

Twitter users vote for Musk to step down

18 December

Twitter users voted in favour of Musk stepping down as its chief executive after he ran a poll on his future, promising he would “abide by the results”.

Millions voted, with a final total of 57.5% saying “yes”.

Musk’s electric car firm has fallen sharply in value, with some saying his obsession with Twitter is destroying the brand.

He received the backing of several investors to help get his purchase of the site over the line.

In May, it was reported the backers included massive firms such as Fidelity, which is known for managing retirement accounts, and Sequoia Capital, which has backed other technology firms Apple, Google and Airbnb.

Others are thought to include Binance chief founder Changpeng Zhao, Oracle co-founder and Mr Musk’s friend, Larry Ellison, sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding and Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Mr Musk also announced on Twitter that major policy changes would be voted on in the future.

On Sunday, Twitter said it would shut down accounts solely designed to promote other social media platforms, however, the web page detailing the policy appears to no longer exist.

Source: BBC

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