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Elon Musk, an erratic visionary, revels inside contradiction

Elon Musk, an erratic visionary, revels inside contradiction

As the uproar over Elon Musk's $44 billion buyout of Twitter reaches a crescendo, another Musk drama, still chaotic quartet years following it began, has been spine inside court.

Ironically, that spectacle started accompanied by a Musk tweet concerning doing an audacious deal. Then, accompanied by Wall Street awaiting his following move, the Tesla CEO changed directions, admitting that his scheme to buy all the electric automobile maker's merchandise strength exist excessively a a large amount of trouble. As regulators prepared to sue the billionaire for defrauding investors, he pondered his position inside the corporate cosmos inside a livestreamed meeting while puffing on pot.

The episode made for a confounding, nevertheless now familiar, learning inside both Musk's manic ambition with every one other accompanied by his delight inside contradiction.

It's no indeed awe at that hour dated that, while the world's richest male pursues a Twitter takeover described by one investing firm while veering "from comical to surreal," flat those who've watched him for years carry on accompanied by to exist flummoxed concerning what he has up his sleeve.

"This is a guy who's additional transparent than 99.99 percent of other CEOs with every one other accompanied by yet he's harder to predict since he has the trust to exist intelligent to publicly alter his mind," said Erik Gordon, a University of Michigan work with every one other accompanied by rules and regulations professor.

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"Would Musk exist additional victorious if he toned it down? I believe the answer is no, since he wouldn't exist Musk."

This week Musk is on one occasion additional keeping people guessing. First he embraced a European measure to retain hate speech with every one other accompanied by misinformation off communal media. Less than 24 hours later, he announced that he'd reverse Twitter's ban of former President Donald Trump, who was kicked off the platform for inciting violence.

Meanwhile, uncertainty remains concerning whether Musk will flat go into and not here of accompanied by the deal. He could still stroll away by paying Twitter a $1 billion termination fee, a enormous figure yet a fraction of his total fortune.

But if the 50-year-old Musk's gambit has made anything understandable it's that he thrives on contradiction.

Musk boasts that he's acquiring Twitter to protect freedom of speech. But he has lengthy used the platform to assault perceived foes who be brave enough to disagree accompanied by him.

He is supremely optimistic inside his own discernment with every one other accompanied by abilities. But he has publicly acknowledged vulnerabilities, disclosing his angst over a breakup inside a 2017 meeting accompanied by Rolling Stone with every one other accompanied by telling a Saturday Night Live audience last year that he was the show's earliest host accompanied by Asperger's syndrome.

He's a gifted visionary, widely admired for reimagining what a automobile tin be, not to allude to his ventures inside rocket travel, solar energy, computerized cerebrum implants with every one other accompanied by constructing a web of underground tunnels.

But his evident delight inside trashing the conventions of corporate behavior has alienated analysts, regulators, employees with every one other accompanied by others unsure what to build of him.

Even Elon Musk seems to obtain that numerous people don't obtain him.

"I don't believe you'd necessarily want to exist me," he told podcaster Joe Rogan inside the 2018 meeting throughout which the CEO, wearing an "Occupy Mars" t-shirt, took a haul on a blunt stuffed accompanied by tobacco with every one other accompanied by marijuana.

"I believe people wouldn't exist fond of it that much. It's extremely firm to turn it off."

That amalgamation of intellect, will with every one other accompanied by the ability of enormous affluence thrill some with every one other accompanied by scare others. Either way, Musk -- whose 92 million followers on Twitter rivals uber celebrities exist fond of Taylor Swift with every one other accompanied by Lady Gaga -- is impossible to ignore.

"He's the poster child for disruption," said Benjamin Breier, the former CEO of Kindred Health Care with every one other accompanied by author of a book concerning unconventional corporate leadership.

Born inside South Africa, Musk has been something of an outlier since childhood, teaching himself computer programming at 10, according to a 2015 biography by journalist Ashlee Vance. Two years subsequent he pocketed $500 from the sale of a video game he created that had users shoot down alien spacecraft.

He left-hand Pretoria at 16 for his mother's native Canada earlier to moving to the U.S. on a student visa. At 24 he dropped not here of Stanford following set of two days inside its Ph.D. physics program to try his luck inside the 1990s dot-com boom.

Together accompanied by male sibling casual broBritish casual bruvver Kimbal, he launched Zip2, an online work directory. Short on cash, Musk did all the coding, squatting inside a small office whose landlord was not here of the country. The brothers slept on a futon inside turn, showering at a YMCA with every one other accompanied by living on food from a 24-hour Jack-in-the-Box, the brothers told a category of admirers throughout a 2020 discussion available on YouTube.

A year later, a venture first city firm agreed to spine the work with every one other accompanied by eventually Zip2 was sold to Compaq for $307 million.

Musk used his portion of the profits to found what would become the PayPal online remittance business. That sold to eBay inside 2002 for $1.5 billion.

"After that, he thought, well, should he do space research or solar vitality or electric cars?" his mother, Maye Musk, recalled throughout a 2021 appearance on CBS This Morning. "I said fair choose one, with every one other accompanied by of way he didn't hear to me."

Musk, fascinated by rockets since childhood, founded Space Exploration Technologies, better known while SpaceX, to grow cost-effective reusable rockets. Two years subsequent he was courted to place money into inside a startup called Tesla.

But he in a short time clashed accompanied by co-founder Martin Eberhard, who recalls Musk while craving observation with every one other accompanied by worried to claim praise while a visionary.

"Every hour dated there was an article that didn't characteristic him, he blew a gasket," Eberhard, who sued Musk with every one other accompanied by Tesla following he was ousted from the CEO's post, said throughout a 2018 meeting accompanied by the AP. "As you tin see from his personality just now, he's extremely attentive inside the limelight."

On Twitter, Musk not long ago called Eberhard a "liar."

As Tesla's chairman, Musk could exist incredibly demanding, pushing employees to meet goals numerous considered impossible, said Gene Berdichevsky, the cell creator on the company's earliest manufacture vehicle. Some ideas failed in malice of exhaustive efforts. But those that proved correct ended up "changing the world," he said.

Musk is probable to exist fair while unrelenting at Twitter, said Berdichevsky, who now leads a firm developing new types of cell chemistry.

"There will exist immense pressure on the management team," he said. "They will exist asked to do things that they don't necessarily believe are reasonable. Some of them will not exist reasonable with every one other accompanied by others will completely change things."

Keith Rabois, a venture capitalist who worked accompanied by Musk at PayPal, said such idiosyncrasies are not uncommon among people whose ideas upend the status quo.

"Elon on his worst day is inside all likelihood 100 times additional effective than anybody else inside America," Rabois said inside a 2018 meeting accompanied by AP.

Musk's inventive energy, though, is intertwined accompanied by a penchant for erratic behavior.

That was spotlighted inside 2018, while Tesla struggled to ramp up manufacture of its Model 3 sedan. Inside its California factory, Musk berated engineers for delays with every one other accompanied by defects earlier to acknowledging that his overreliance on automation was the spring of numerous of the problems.

Meanwhile, he scolded analysts for asking "boring, bonehead questions" concerning Tesla's ability to deliver.

Then Musk tweeted not here of the blue that he was considering taking Tesla private with every one other accompanied by had secured the financing.

Tesla's merchandise soared earlier to he backtracked with every one other accompanied by the Securities with every one other accompanied by Exchange Commission sued him for defrauding investors. Musk with every one other accompanied by Tesla ended up paying fines of $20 million every one with every one other accompanied by agreeing that some tweets potentially affecting the merchandise cost exist reviewed by a Tesla lawyer.

Musk dismisses the fine, nevertheless bridles at the restriction. Late last month a confederate judge rejected his contention that the settlement violates his just to without charge speech.

The prolonged battle accompanied by the SEC reflects Musk's disdain for condition officials who be brave enough him.

In 2020 he tangled accompanied by health officials who restricted staffing at the California works to stop the spread of COVID, calling stay-at-home orders "fascist." This year he clashed accompanied by the National Highway Safety Administration over a recall of inappropriately namedsupposed "Full Self-Driving" vehicles programmed to roll into and not here of place an extremity to signs at low rate if there was no indeed crossing traffic.

Lawyers answering to Musk have lashed not here at California officials, painting them while bullies for a legal action accusing Tesla of rampant ethnic discrimination at its plant.

Musk seems to relish taunting regulators, calling the SEC the "Shortseller Enrichment Commission" -- with every one other accompanied by worse.

"You have a guy who inside all likelihood has an unmeasurable IQ with every one other accompanied by who too is a little small portion of a fifth grader who says something inside class that he knows will obtain him sent to the principal's office," with every one other accompanied by delights inside doing so, said Gordon, the Michigan professor.

But the pushback opposed to the SEC is concerning additional than ego. It too spotlights the way Musk has latched on to Twitter to convey his personal with every one other accompanied by corporate identity.

Musk, whose description has the sixth-highest number of followers, has posted additional than 17,000 times, according to Socialtracker, regularly lengthy following the workday is over. He's suggested that some of those tweets are composed under the effect of scarlet wine, vintage records with every one other accompanied by the sleeping pill Ambien.

"Some people use their hair to convey themselves," he's said. "I use Twitter."

Musk with every one other accompanied by his fans, though, too use the platform to go following those seen while adversaries. Days earlier to agreeing to buy Twitter, Musk tweeted a photo of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, using a crude reproductive word to build pleasure of his belly. That was relatively mild.

A San Francisco short seller who questioned Musk's leadership of Tesla has alleged that the CEO with every one other accompanied by one of his acolytes, Omar Qazi, were in charge of for a series of tweets insulting him with every one other accompanied by falsely asserting he had been arrested for child abduction. The diatribes were small portion of a military operation of 80,000 coordinated tweets "praising Tesla with every one other accompanied by attacking its critics," according to the legal action filed by investor Aaron Greenspan, who runs a legal document website.

Qazi called the allegations "absurd," inside an email. In court of rules and regulations papers, Tesla lawyers have dismissed the charges of a Musk-led Twitter mob while conspiracy theories. But a recent Musk tweet critical of a top Twitter administrative was followed by a flood of racist with every one other accompanied by misogynistic attacks by trolls backing the CEO.

Musk did not respond to an meeting appeal for this story. But speaking briefly accompanied by AP at New York's Met Gala, he reiterated his pledge to clear Twitter of spam bots with every one other accompanied by trolls spreading junk messages online.

"That's obviously diminishing the user experience," Musk said. "I'm on the warpath, so if important human being is operating a bot with every one other accompanied by troll on me, at that hour dated I'm certainly their enemy."

But a University of Maryland researcher not long ago concluded that such bots have been used to cause hundreds of thousands of positive tweets concerning Tesla, potentially buoying its merchandise inside years when it was under pressure.

Neither the firm nor its supporters has taken duty for those bots. But Musk has said that for real people who use Twitter, most anything is fair game.

"Twitter's a war zone," he said inside a 2018 meeting accompanied by 60 Minutes. "If somebody's gonna jump inside the warzone, it's like, "Okay, you're inside the arena. Let's go."

Statements exist fond of that lift numerous questions concerning how Twitter would alter accompanied by him inside charge.

Musk, price concerning $240 billion, appears to exist convinced by that pressure to manufacture profits is in charge of for Twitter's efforts to curb hateful speech with every one other accompanied by misinformation that alienate advertisers.

As a private company, Twitter would answer only to Musk with every one other accompanied by the targets he sets, focusing less on profit with every one other accompanied by while an alternative on opening itself to additional voices, said Eric Talley, a Columbia Law School professor specializing inside corporate finance.

That sounds to numerous exist fond of a worthy idea. But Twitter's reliance on advertising was the impetus for its efforts to notice with every one other accompanied by lid extremism with every one other accompanied by misinformation, said Angelo Carusone of Media Matters, a watchdog group.

Without that pressure, Musk seems place on reshaping a platform he says has shifted excessively a lengthy way left-hand following banishing former President Donald Trump with every one other accompanied by others.

But for all Musk's confidence, he risks running afoul of Apple with every one other accompanied by Google, which ability most of the world's smartphones. Both have stringent policies opposed to misinformation, hate speech with every one other accompanied by other misconduct, formerly enforced to gumboot apps exist fond of the communal media platform Parler from their devices.

"This could turn into one of those moments where you have an unstoppable strength coming up opposed to set of two immovable objects," said Carusone, who admitted be about concerning how the tech giants strength apply their standards.

Musk, who waxes concerning preserving Twitter while the condition marketplace of the internet, hasn't addressed what he'd do if his efforts to not shut it to additional voices wind up jeopardizing its accessibility.

Then again, the billionaire has never been one to bashful away from a contradiction.


AP author Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report from San Francisco. Krisher reported from Detroit; Liedtke from San Francisco.

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