By Dennis Kneale
Vivek Wadhwa spent years coming to the defense of Elon Musk when critics bashed him on various fronts. Wadhwa, a Silicon Valley advisor, author, Harvard Fellow and Carnegie Mellon professor, has called Musk the greatest innovator of our time.
But now Wadhwa, who says he has known Musk for over a decade and has socialized with him, believes the world’s richest man is “demolishing” Twitter, that he is following “stupid advice” from yes men and idiots, and that Musk “is consuming too much, too many drugs. Drugs of all kinds, and they are eating away his brain.”
“The Vivver,” as I like to call him, made these comments on my new podcast, “What’s Bugging Me,” up now on the Ricochet platform, here.
Elon Musk has supplanted President Trump as the media’s Public Enemy No. 1. The media have buried and undermined disturbing revelations in The Twitter Files. The New York Times and Washington Post are downright disdainful.
Wow, and here I thought Elon Musk was doing great things at Twitter, and sometimes great things require turmoil. He wants to rid Twitter of political censorship, government interference, and ultra-liberal bias, as well as any links to child trafficking.
Usually, these would be seen as good things in the media, but Elon Musk now has supplanted President Trump as the media’s Public Enemy No. 1, as I suggested here. If anything, the media have buried and undermined the disturbing revelations of #TheTwitterFiles, and the two pillars of the mainstream media, The New York Times and The Washington Post, have been dismissive or downright disdainful.
Vivek Wadhwa argues that Musk has fired too many valuable employees; never mind that the 7,500 people at Twitter had median compensation of $240,000 per year, and a few hundred engineers are sufficient to run a platform serving a quarter of a billion people.
Further, the Silicon Valley commentator, who also is the author of “Your Happiness was Hacked, Why Tech is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain—and How to Fight Back,” maintains that Musk has surrounded himself with “yes men” and “idiots” giving him bad advice—including the notion that Twitter ever was worth much more than $10 billion. And, for better or worse, this:
“Elon is not a racist by any means, okay? He’s not a white supremacist by any means. None of those things are true. The trouble is that Elon is consuming too much, too many drugs. Drugs of all kinds, and they are eating away his brain.”
Here’s a short video bite, if I can manage to load it.
In other words, when Elon talked himself into going through with his $44 billion offer for Twitter, even after the stock market had plunged 20% after he announced his bid in April, he must have been high. Wadhwa says Elon should have cancelled the deal, paid Twitter a $1 billion kill fee—and returned with a bid that was much lower, he argues.
Elon’s investors will be expecting to earn triple what they put in, but, Wadhwa maintains, Twitter never will be worth upwards of $250 billion.
This sells Elon Musk short—and people have lost billions of dollars doing that. As his good friend, Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, who put $1 billion into Tesla in December 2019, told reporters: “This guy is landing rockets. He’s landing rockets on robot drone rafts in the ocean, and you’re saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing. Well, who else is landing a rocket?”
Exactly. A year later, Ellison’s stake in Tesla had soared to $13 billion, and that 12-fold rise came at the expense of short sellers who trying to make Tesla plunge.
Now many are betting against Elon Musk yet again. He is fixing Twitter, yet Ben Mezrich, author of “The Accidental Billionaires,” the Facebook book that spawned the film “The Social Network,” just signed a fat book deal under the title: “Breaking Twitter.” It is a rather hasty judgment to make, given that Elon acquired the company on Oct. 27, a bit more than 40 days ago.
Musk sees a bigger future for Twitter as the “everything app,” by which people will exchange payments and bills and execute contracts and buy goods and services, instead of just hurling clickbait back and forth. Cue the Carpenters 52 years ago: he’s only just begun.
Dennis Kneale, @denniskneale on Twitter, is a writer and media strategist in New York and host of the new podcast, “What’s Bugging Me,” on the @Ricochet platform.