May 27, 2024

From alarming questions on Elon Musk’s position in Ukraine’s conflict effort, to new particulars about his sophisticated private life, there was no scarcity of bombshells from Walter Isaacson’s not too long ago launched biography of Elon Musk.

The e-book covers his childhood in South Africa, in addition to his enterprise dealings, from his first startup to Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink. Maybe unsurprisingly, greater than 1 / 4 of the e-book is dedicated to Twitter.

Isaacson spent two years with Musk and thus had a front-row seat to his takeover of Twitter, starting together with his transfer to develop into a significant stakeholder final spring. Whereas a lot of the drama that unfolded at Twitter (now, X) during the last yr and half has been well-documented, Isaacson’s account provides telling — and at instances weird — new particulars about the way it all went down.

Musk nearly instantly regretted his determination to purchase Twitter

Isaacson describes Musk’s preliminary bid to purchase Twitter as impulsive — the results of one in all his frequent “manic” moods. And he writes that Musk regretted the plan nearly instantly after the deal was put in movement — each as a result of he thought he was overpaying, and since he was so unimpressed with Twitter’s former management. Musk later admits, greater than as soon as, that he purchased the corporate as a result of he didn’t have a selection.

“I don’t know why I did it,” he says two weeks after the deal lastly closed. “The decide principally mentioned that I’ve to purchase Twitter or else, and now I’m like, okay, shit.”

The principle motivation for growing Twitter Blue subscriptions

We already know that Musk needs to convey banking and funds options to X, however the e-book makes it clear that these ambitions are very a lot intertwined together with his push for Twitter Blue (now referred to as X Premium) subscriptions. Isaacson writes that Musk was so centered on Twitter Blue as a result of he noticed it as a strategy to “get a consumer’s bank card data into the system, enabling Twitter sometime to develop into the broader financial-services and funds platform.”

Nevertheless, the plan was considerably derailed by Apple, as most of Twitter’s subscribers signed up by way of its iPhone app, and Apple doesn’t share consumer information, like bank card and different monetary particulars, with app makers. Extremely, upon studying of this, Musk instructed Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of belief and security, to “simply name Apple and inform them to provide the information you want.” Roth, realizing that such a request wouldn’t go over nicely with Apple, declined to make the decision.

Musk would later meet with Tim Prepare dinner amid a separate dispute associated to Twitter’s iOS app, however, in response to Isaacson, Musk opted to not convey up the consumer information problem. However it underscores simply how essential monetary information is to his imaginative and prescient to make X an “the whole lot app.”

Musk tried to ban the ADL and different activists in 2022

Musk usually portrays himself as a noble defender of free speech, however even a sympathetic biographer is fast to level out all of the methods Musk put his pursuits forward of free speech after buying Twitter.

Months earlier than Musk would enhance the #BanTheADL hashtag, he wished to ban the group and different activists for urging advertisers to boycott the platform, Isaacson writes. Musk apparently went to Yoel Roth, twitter’s former head of belief and security, and demanded he “cease customers from urging advertisers to boycott Twitter.”

Musk then tried to advert lib a brand new coverage to justify what would have been an unprecedented ban. “I’m altering Twitter coverage proper now … blackmail is prohibited as of proper now. Ban it. Ban them,” Musk mentioned. Roth deflected and Musk apparently dropped the problem.

Musk flip-flopped on whether or not to revive Donald Trump’s account

Regardless of joking to his sons that he was shopping for Twitter to assist Trump get reelected, Musk isn’t any fan of Trump, in response to Isaacson.

“I wish to keep away from the bullshit disputes about Trump,” Musk had advised me a couple of weeks earlier, emphasizing that his precept had all the time been to permit free speech provided that it was throughout the bounds of the legislation. “If he’s engaged in felony exercise — and it appears more and more that he has — that’s not okay,” Musk mentioned. “It’s not free speech to subvert democracy.”

Musk, in fact, would change his thoughts and resolve {that a} Twitter ballot was a greater strategy to resolve the problem. Isaacson doesn’t speculate on a motive for the reversal apart from saying he was in a “feisty temper” that day.

How the “hardcore Twitter” pledge happened

Within the a number of weeks following his chaotic takeover of Twitter, Musk laid off hundreds of Twitter employees. Isaacson sheds new mild on how these selections had been made, writing that Musk tapped his two first cousins and their shut good friend — all of whom labored at Musk’s different firms — to assist him determine who needs to be lower.

Round this time, one of many extra notorious tales to return out of Twitter was a web based type despatched to the remaining staffers, giving them two days to decide to the brand new “hardcore” model of the corporate. In line with Isaacson, the shape was impressed by one in all Musk’s cousins, who after digging via Twitter workers’ public Slack messages, “steered to Musk that he give workers the possibility to decide out.” Musk later determined to make the shape opt-in, fairly than opt-out. “We would like individuals who declare they’re hardcore.”

What actually occurred to Twitter’s servers

Final December, Musk determined to maneuver hundreds of Twitter servers from an information middle in Sacremento to a facility in Oregon in an effort to lower your expenses. However when Twitter engineers mentioned the transfer would take a minimum of six months, Musk grew indignant, saying he felt just like the “head-explosion emoji.”

Then, two days earlier than Christmas, Musk made an impromptu go to to the Sacramento facility and declared transferring the servers didn’t “appear tremendous arduous.” By the following day, Christmas Eve, Musk had tapped his cousins and others to start out the transfer. The group started rolling the two,500-pound server racks, which contained “completely important information” onto a Oregon-bound transferring truck. Twitter’s guidelines required servers with consumer information to be wiped earlier than such a transfer, however Musk opted to make use of Apple AirTags and store-bought padlocks to safe them as a substitute.

In the end, all the servers had been relocated inside weeks, fairly than the a number of months the corporate’s engineers initially estimated. However the transfer additionally triggered months of instability inside Twitter’s programs. This resulted in a variety of points, together with a disastrous reside stream with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who was nearly unable to announce his presidential bid.

The hasty transfer has additionally attracted the scrutiny of the FTC, which is investigating X over a variety of privateness and information associated points. Lately revealed courtroom paperwork refer on to the incident for instance of the corporate failing to observe its personal safety insurance policies.

Musk’s obsession with a cellular technique recreation referred to as Polytopia

The e-book is crammed with particulars about Musk’s private relationships. However one of many more strange particulars is his long-running obsession with a cellular technique recreation referred to as The Battle of Polytopia that a lot of his confidantes say is vital to understanding him. Musk is seemingly so hooked on the sport that at one level within the narrative he skips a gathering with Tesla managers so he can maintain enjoying.

Musk is so obsessed that he’s roped a lot of his interior circle, together with Grimes, his brother Kimbal and Shivon Zilis, the Neuralink govt with whom he has twins, into enjoying as nicely. All of them ultimately deleted the sport, together with his brother Kimbal saying it was “destroying” his marriage. Musk, however, deleted the app from his telephone however, a pair months later, opted to maintain enjoying.

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