Elon Musk's Twitter takeover gives him a new type of power

  

Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  4 weeks ago  •  70 comments

By:   David Ingram

Elon Musk's Twitter takeover gives him a new type of power
Few business leaders have ever wielded as much power as Elon Musk.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Few business leaders have ever wielded as much power as Elon Musk.

Musk, who was already recognized by Bloomberg as the world's richest man, will soon add one of the world's most influential media platforms to his purview when he buys Twitter, adding to a business empire thatalready includes the leading private space company (SpaceX) and one of the leading electric car companies (Tesla).

It's a combination that makes him one of the most significant figures in the history of technology, business and media.

"I think this is genuinely new," Brad DeLong, an economic historian at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in an email.

"There were press lords in the past," he said, citing William Randolph Hearst, whose fictionalized legend was immortalized in the film "Citizen Kane."

"But never before to my recollection has a major entrepreneur in the high-tech of the day wanted this kind of influence — or, rather, Jobs and Gates wanted it, but they wooed news platforms, rather than buying them," DeLong said, referring to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

History is filled with powerful industrialists, many of whom also wielded control of major media outlets. And in recent years, media properties have become a target for wealthy technocrats. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post; Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff owns Time magazine; and Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, is the founder of the Emerson Collective, which owns The Atlantic. In an earlier era, the Gates-led Microsoft co-founded MSNBC (NBCUniversal is the parent company of NBC News and MSNBC).

Twitter, however, is an altogether different beast. Its platform counts 217 million daily active users and is considered by some to be the most important and influential platform in the world despite being smaller than some of its competitors.

Musk and Twitter have agreed to a deal worth $44 billion, with Musk as the lone owner so far, though he could add outside investors. That's the equivalent of nearly a fifth of his vast wealth of $252 billion.

In historical terms, Musk has few comparisons. Richard White, a Stanford University historian and author of a 2017 book on the 19th century Gilded Age, "The Republic for Which It Stands," said Musk is most similar to Hearst, who wielded power in public debates in the early 20th century through his control of a chain of popular newspapers. But Musk's business interests are more sprawling than Hearst's were.

And Musk has shown little interest in acquiring mansions and open land — a favorite pastime of tycoons from Cornelius Vanderbilt to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg — and instead leverages his stock to finance endeavors like Neuralink, a startup working on brain implants, or the acquisition of Twitter.

"To me, Elon Musk is really simple. He really likes attention. He really likes to be at the center of the discourse," White said.

White said that's a contrast with railroad barons who bought newspapers in the 19th century to serve narrow financial interests, often in secret. Musk's move into social media doesn't seem to serve a business purpose, and he's not hiding his influence.

If anything, Musk seems to relish his role in the culture as much as his impact on industry. He's hosted NBC's "Saturday Night Live," makes regular cameos on television and in films and inserts himself into global hot spots by offering help in places such as Ukraine and Thailand. He has dated pop star Grimes and has drawn analogies to a comic book superhero.

That attention combined with his businesses have resulted in an aggressive online army of fans and made him an idol among many in the tech community. Last year the Harvard historian Jill Lepore devoted a podcast series to Musk, saying he had established a new kind of capitalism rooted in science fiction. She called it "Muskism."

Comparisons have become common between the original American Gilded Age, which began around 1870 and produced the Vanderbilt and Rockefeller fortunes, and the concentration of wealth now, as Big Tech fuels the fortunes of Musk, Bezos, Gates and others.

But there are some similarities worth noting, such as the extent to which Musk has built his fortune with the help of government support, said Boyd Cothran, a historian at York University in Toronto and editor of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

"The transcontinental railroad would not have been possible without massive subsidization by the federal government — same with electric cars and with SpaceX," Cothran said.

And like Hearst a century ago, Musk has a particular talent for capturing people's attention and mimicking the ideas of people who follow him, Cothran said.

"He's a kind of populist, in that he seeks to whip up the opinions of the masses as opposed to courting the political parties," he said.

Musk's power has also made him the target of scrutiny from government regulators and business watchdogs. Like wealthy industrialists before him, Musk has used his corporate power to oppose the power of labor unions. Black workers have alleged unchecked racism at Tesla's California plant, and Musk has tested the willingness of government regulators to enforce federal law. Musk has said he treats his employees well and has accused securities regulators of acting unfairly, while Tesla has said alleging racial discrimination "strains credibility."

That has all spurred political opposition.

"Whether it's buying up companies or raising prices while funneling more profits toward themselves, wealthy CEOs have too much power in this country," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement through his office when asked about Musk's purchase of Twitter.

"Last year CEOs made 254 times more than the average worker. We need an economy that rewards work, not wealth," Brown said.

Some doubt that Musk's ownership of Twitter will make him much of a media player, and it's not clear exactly what role Musk will have at the company. He has publicly stated that he plans to embrace free-speech standards similar to those of the U.S. government and also to push to make sure accounts are run by real people while eliminating bots (automated accounts).

David Huyssen, an economic historian at the University of York in the U.K., said that many more Americans get their news from the conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group than from Twitter.

"Which 'concentration of media power' is more dangerous to democracy? Why are we talking about Musk rather than Sinclair?" Huyssen wrote in an email.

There's also the possibility that Musk's interest in owning Twitter could fade as suddenly as it appeared.

"Writing a large check does not make you a media mogul, and there are reasons to doubt the depth of Musk's desire to become one, not least his wide range of other activities," Huyssen wrote.


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Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
1  Buzz of the Orient    4 weeks ago

I won't rush to judgment until I see what's going to happen, but as a movie afficionado might ask, who knows whether he will end up like citizen Kane, or as was shouted in Titanic, King of the World.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2  Vic Eldred    4 weeks ago

Shouldn't this piece be listed as an op-ed?

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    4 weeks ago

It is Vic.

512

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.1.1  devangelical  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1    4 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  devangelical @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.3  Hallux  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1    4 weeks ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.4  Hallux  replied to  Hallux @2.1.3    4 weeks ago

Looks like I'm going to have to up my taunting game if I'm ever going to be in Reading Gaol. /S

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.5  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hallux @2.1.4    4 weeks ago

I voted up all those comments that were ticketed. Now I want one.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.6  Hallux  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.5    4 weeks ago

You get more than your fare share ... yikes I made a pun.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.7  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Hallux @2.1.6    4 weeks ago

You guys are too funny. Look if you are going to break the rules on the lead mods article, you might find yourself in a bit of a bind.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hallux @2.1.6    4 weeks ago

There's only 2 days left in the month and I have not received one ticket. I feel deprived

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.9  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.7    4 weeks ago

Are you going to tell us to spank ourselves?

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.10  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.8    4 weeks ago

512

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.11  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.9    4 weeks ago
Are you going to tell us to spank ourselves?

Only if you like it that way, LOL!

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.12  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.8    4 weeks ago

You can have some of mine!

I'm always generous (liberal) that way.  

I don't mind sharing.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.13  Tessylo  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.11    4 weeks ago
"Are you going to tell us to spank ourselves?"

"Only if you like it that way, LOL!"

Speak to Dev and Sister Mary

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.14  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.10    4 weeks ago

I got a gold one! I bet no one else can say that!

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.1.15  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.8    4 weeks ago

that probably wasn't an advisable admission made for public consumption on NT...

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.16  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.11    4 weeks ago

Yeah, it's super cool stretching about 35 different muscles reaching behind yourself to give yourself a spanking

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.17  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @2.1.15    4 weeks ago

meh...my fan club can't hurt me.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
2.1.18  Hallux  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.7    4 weeks ago

A bit of a bind you say ... has your inner dominatrix come out to frolic? (imagine a drooling emoji here)

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.19  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.16    4 weeks ago

Well, girlfriend, all you have to do is ask. I am sure we have some takers.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.20  Trout Giggles  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.19    4 weeks ago

Oh, I'm sure of that. I know the first person in line

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.1.21  Tessylo  replied to  Trout Giggles @2.1.14    4 weeks ago

Suck up!

Teachers pet!

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
2.1.22  Trout Giggles  replied to  Tessylo @2.1.21    4 weeks ago

Nanny nanny boo boo!

 
 
 
gooseisback
Freshman Silent
2.1.23  gooseisback  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1    4 weeks ago

Do you think this gives Musk anymore power than Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, or Jeff Bezos.  

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1.24  Vic Eldred  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1    4 weeks ago

How did I miss that?

Very good Perrie.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.25  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  gooseisback @2.1.23    4 weeks ago

Power in what way? Power of the press, well no more than Zuckerberg. Google is an algorithm of data, so more than that. And Bezos is just making the holy dollar, so I don't find him impressive. 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.26  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1.24    4 weeks ago
How did I miss that?Very good Perrie.

IDK? I mean I do make mistakes, but I try not to.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.27  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.26    4 weeks ago

I think I got kind of sidelined in that discussion, but okay, I should have minded my own business. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
2.2  Tessylo  replied to  Vic Eldred @2    4 weeks ago

If you had taken the time to read it, you would have seen it was listed as such.  

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Tessylo @2.2    4 weeks ago

Actually, Tess, to be fair, when Vic made that comment, the seed WAS categorized as News & Politics.  It was after he posted that comment that it was changed to Op-ed.  

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3  Tessylo    4 weeks ago

279204093_396152289283018_7264792871314116892_n.jpg?stp=dst-jpg_s600x600&_nc_cat=1&ccb=1-5&_nc_sid=8bfeb9&_nc_ohc=VFYwoE--gpIAX8vUg8e&_nc_ht=scontent-iad3-1.xx&oh=00_AT8CWRrgeyO_bEo-WzmpGs8Mgwcd-63xnQIcpTgd3aQeiw&oe=626F7D1E

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1  Texan1211  replied to  Tessylo @3    4 weeks ago

Nice pics, but what exactly is your point in posting them?

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3.1.1  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1    4 weeks ago

I'll take stab at that question ... they all made their money the old fashioned way, they inherited it.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

Some know the answers already to the question they are asking.  

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.3  Sparty On  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1    4 weeks ago

Many liberals hate success because they tend to be very jealous, angry individuals.

They also love spending other people’s money because they are too lazy to make it on their own.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Texan1211  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    4 weeks ago
I'll take stab at that question ... they all made their money the old fashioned way, they inherited it.

That is reasonable, as most parents would love to leave their kids something to make their lives better. I applaud their parents for helping their kids!

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3.1.5  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.4    4 weeks ago

Parents should concentrate far more on making their kid lives better during their formative years.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3.1.6  Trout Giggles  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

I was going to say the easy way

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.7  Texan1211  replied to  Hallux @3.1.5    4 weeks ago
Parents should concentrate far more on making their kid lives better during their formative years.

Are you suggesting that did not happen in these individuals' cases?

It is entirely possible to do both.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.1.8  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @3.1.3    4 weeks ago
Many liberals hate success because they tend to be very jealous, angry individuals. They also love spending other people’s money because they are too lazy to make it on their own.

That could be said for conservatives, too. The fact is that most people with nothing would rather be pissed and blame, than attempt to change their lot in life.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
3.1.9  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.7    4 weeks ago
It is entirely possible to do both.

It is. Good upbringing hopefully means responsible adults. 

But there is also a long history of wealthy kids amounting to nothing, but indulged.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.10  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.1.8    4 weeks ago

No argument.     Interestingly, of the four people in the meme, a couple are arguably pretty liberal.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
3.1.11  Hallux  replied to  Texan1211 @3.1.7    4 weeks ago
It is entirely possible to do both.

That it is, however, having invested heavily in my daughter during her youth she is now worth vastly more than I can ever leave her.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.12  Texan1211  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @3.1.9    4 weeks ago

agreed.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
3.1.13  Texan1211  replied to  Hallux @3.1.11    4 weeks ago

I am sure the parents of those pictured above feel the same way.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
3.1.14  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

Bill Gates is not giving his gazillions to his kids.  

 
 
 
gooseisback
Freshman Silent
3.2  gooseisback  replied to  Tessylo @3    4 weeks ago

3 Liberals and 1 Libertarian, do you think this helps you in anyway? 

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    4 weeks ago

I posted this article because I found it an interesting POV. I like Musk, but he is hardly self-made. What he does have are amazing ideas that he actually brings to fruition. 

But compare him to Steve Jobs, who started off against all odds, didn't come from money, and not only was an out of the box thinker, but also an amazing businessman, and I think that Jobs comes out on top.

I can honestly say, that while I admire Musk's idea of a town square, I don't think that he really gets social platforms. I thought I knew what to expect, and I found the learning curve very steep.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    4 weeks ago
I don't think that he really gets social platforms.

Time will tell.    

If he stops the obvious censorship that has existed on Twitter for some time.    He will be well on his way ....

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.1.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Sparty On @4.1    4 weeks ago

I'm not a fan of censorship, but I also feel that because the internet can stimulate such misinformation and so much hate, it is a very hard line to walk. I am constantly dealing with that, and I know I annoy people when I let some stuff stand. I hope that any disinformation and misinformation would be and can be countered. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.1    4 weeks ago

Yeah I get it.    Lots of shades of grey there but a good portion of it has been black and white.    Easily stopped via management with a modicum of unbiased moderation.

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Guide
4.1.3  Greg Jones  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.1    4 weeks ago

I think the majority of average adults can differentiate between BS and the truth, particularly when it comes to political lies and misinformation. That's the primary reason Trump lost.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.1.4  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Greg Jones @4.1.3    4 weeks ago

I disagree Greg. I see some of the stuff that is posted on FB, and it is easily disputed and yet no one does it. A lot of people are lemmings, and if it fits their agenda, true or not, they will latch on to it.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1.5  Sparty On  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.4    4 weeks ago
A lot of people are lemmings, and if it fits their agenda, true or not, they will latch on to it.

Therein lies the debate.    Base moderation on the lowest common denominator or error more on the side of free speech.

I prefer to error on the side of free speech.    If I were in your shoes, without tort reform, I’d probably feel more like you do.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.1.6  Vic Eldred  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.1.1    4 weeks ago
I hope that any disinformation and misinformation would be and can be countered. 

That's the answer right there. Even when 51 former intelligence officials lie, the truth comes out.

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
4.2  Hallux  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    4 weeks ago

Your town square is a minor village that a Musk would sweep aside deaf to your whimpers and at least 1/2 of the village 'citizens' would like to turn the place into a pillow store.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Hallux @4.2    4 weeks ago

Hummmm... maybe?

 
 
 
Hallux
Sophomore Principal
4.2.2  Hallux  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.2.1    4 weeks ago

Just trying to lighten the mood ... as usual.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.2.3  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Hallux @4.2.2    4 weeks ago

jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
4.3  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    4 weeks ago

Funny guy............

"T wo days after Elon Musk’s $44 billion bid to take Twitter private was accepted by the board, Musk tweeted out in jest, “Next I’m buying Coca-Cola to put the cocaine back in.”

He likes messing with minds it seems LOL

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.3.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @4.3    4 weeks ago

He really does. He cracks me up.

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
4.3.2  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.3.1    4 weeks ago

Me too hahaha

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.3.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @4.3    4 weeks ago

I might start drinking coke again

 
 
 
Just Jim NC TttH
Masters Principal
4.3.4  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.3.3    4 weeks ago

jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.4  Vic Eldred  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4    4 weeks ago
I can honestly say, that while I admire Musk's idea of a town square, I don't think that he really gets social platforms. I thought I knew what to expect, and I found the learning curve very steep.

I noticed that some of his ideas for Twitter are ones that you already have in effect, like having a chance to go back an edit what you post.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
4.4.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.4    4 weeks ago

Indeedy.

He has learned a lot from me jrSmiley_82_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.4.2  Vic Eldred  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.4.1    4 weeks ago

You bet!

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
4.4.3  Tessylo  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @4.4.1    3 weeks ago

How you put up with some of us I'll never know.  

 
 

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