Musk Poll Backfires Telling Him To Step Down

More than 10 million people have voted in favour of Elon Musk stepping down as the chief executive of Twitter in a poll he posted on the site late on Sunday.

However, the billionaire, who bought the company and installed himself as its head only 50 days ago, has insisted there is no successor in the wings. “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive,” he said on the social network. “There is no successor.”

Replying to another user who said they could do the job, Musk added: “You must like pain a lot. One catch: you have to invest your life savings in Twitter and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May. Still want the job?”

On Sunday, Musk asked Twitter users whether he should step down as the head of the company, promising to abide by the results of his poll.

When the poll closed on Monday, 57.5% said he should step down.

As the majority owner of the privately held company, no one can force Musk out, but a series of baffling decisions over the past few days has caused even some of his closest backers to break ties with him.

A decision to ban an account that tracked the location of his private jet last week was followed by a mass suspension of critical journalists who reported on the ban. That led in turn to an exodus of some engaged users to other social networks, chiefly its decentralised competitor Mastodon, whose own account was banned for posting a link to the jet tracker’s account on the rival platform.

On Sunday, Musk reacted by banning all links to other social networks, including Mastodon, Instagram, Facebook, and even minor platforms such as Nostr, used by the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Linktree, a homepage creation tool favoured by influencers.

That ban was rescinded by the end of the day, after a Twitter poll from the Twitter Safety account, with Musk saying: “Going forward, there will be a vote for major policy changes. My apologies. Won’t happen again.”

However, the move was the final straw for some. Paul Graham, an Anglo-American venture capitalist who had only a month earlier backed Musk, saying: “It’s remarkable how many people who’ve never run any kind of company think they know how to run a tech company better than someone who’s run Tesla and SpaceX.” Graham also declared the move “the last straw” and told users they could find a link to his Mastodon profile on his personal website. His account was suspended for the post.

Musk has a history of using Twitter polls to rubber-stamp major decisions, selling a tenth of his Tesla holdings after one poll in 2021, restoring Donald Trump’s account after a second last month and reinstating a number of suspended accounts after a third. “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” Musk tweeted after the Trump poll.

However, in many cases, he has given the impression of already having decided on the outcome before posting: he had already announced a sale of his Tesla holdings, for instance, long before he put it to a vote, and his plan to reinstate Trump had been discussed since before he even bought Twitter.

The decision to step down as chief executive had also been hinted at long before the Twitter poll was published. On 16 November, he told a Delaware judge that he planned to reduce his time at Twitter and “find somebody else to run Twitter over time”.

This article was amended on 19 December 2022. The headline and introduction to an early version suggested Elon Musk had said he was stepping down as head of Twitter after the result of the poll; while he stated when initiating the poll that he would abide by its result, he has not made any announcement since. The article’s subheading was also amended to correctly refer to Musk as Tesla’s chief executive, not its founder.