Succeeds Elon Musk, the challenge of the future new head of Twitter

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New York (AFP) – Elon Musk has agreed to appoint a successor at the head of Twitter, whose task is already shaping up to be very delicate, stuck between the demands of the simmering owner and the expectations of advertisers, regulators, creditors and employees.

After nearly two days of delay, the entrepreneur accepted the verdict of the poll he had launched on his social network on Sunday. About 57% of the 17 million participating users have called for his resignation.

“I will step down from general management as soon as I find someone crazy enough to do this job!” tweeted the iconoclastic 50-year-old.

Elon Musk has never yet of his own free will relinquished the reins of one of the many large companies he has created or taken over over the past three decades.

Landed from his own company X.com by the board in 2000, he still today heads, in addition to Twitter, Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink and The Boring Company.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at Yale University and a governance specialist, compares him to Travis Kalanick (Uber), Adam Neumann (WeWork), even Steve Jobs, “before he took a kick in the ass” and was fired from Apple in 1985.

Leaders, according to him, are “withdrawn”, unable to “listen”, “rejecting what could help them”.

For Ann Lipton, professor of business law and entrepreneurship at Tulane University, even if Elon Musk appoints a successor, “he has very strong opinions about how to run Twitter,” of which he remains the majority shareholder.

“So any new boss might struggle to implement their own vision,” she says. “He will likely work in Musk’s shadow, especially since Musk wants to stay with the company.”

Thus, the Pretoria native indicated that even once he found the rare gem, he would still take care of “the teams dedicated to software and servers”.

The billionaire is a compulsive user of the platform, Ann Lipton imagines the possibility that he responds to direct requests from users asking him to decide certain issues, thus weakening his successor.

“A Clone”

As for the profile of the future CEO, “he needs someone who reacts more wisely and diplomatically to outside looks”, believes Jeffrey Sonnenfeld. But for the academic, the problem is that Elon Musk “is looking for a clone of himself, and that is exactly what must be avoided”.

Several American media have mentioned the names of investor Jason Calacanis and former PayPal director David Sacks, close to Elon Musk and also patented twittos.

They were part of the tight team that surrounded the billionaire during the takeover of the platform and intervened in important decisions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

For Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the second-richest man in the world, rather than digging into his close guard, must seek an experienced manager, comfortable in the shoes of a public figure and with recognized intuitions.

He cites the former head of CNN, Jeff Zucker, as well as the former CEO of the phone operator T-Mobile, John Legere. The latter applied in mid-November, but Elon Musk immediately rejected this proposal.

The successor will have to appease regulators, who are concerned about less moderation of content, advertisers, many of whom have distanced themselves, but also the group’s heavily indebted creditors, as well as its employees.

Elon Musk himself admitted on Wednesday that he expects revenue in 2023 to decline by more than 40% from 2021.

He assures that thanks to the drastic austerity measures taken since the end of October, in particular the dismissal of about half of the workforce, “Twitter will come out of the next year”.

“The value of Twitter is rapidly declining,” warns Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, however. “It’s a highly perishable asset.”

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