Elon Musk has confirmed he will step down as chief executive of Twitter when he finds a successor, though he plans to retain control over the company’s engineering teams.
“I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job! After that, I will just run the software & servers teams,” Musk wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
Since taking over in October, Musk has overseen the firings or departures of roughly 5000 of Twitter’s 7500 employees. He has said he plans to emphasise Twitter’s engineering as owner, and it’s hard to tell what’s left of other operations, such as legal and finance, some of which have been gutted.
The billionaire executive embarked on a search for a new CEO, according to a person familiar with the search, after losing a straw poll he posted on the social media site that asked whether he should relinquish his role as head of the company.
More than 10 million votes, or 57.5 per cent, were in favour of Musk stepping down, according to results that came in on Monday morning. Musk committed to abide by the results when he launched the survey, but a day later he had tweeted more than a dozen times without directly addressing the outcome. The search for a new CEO could be drawn out and not yield results quickly, said the person, who asked for anonymity discussing a private matter.
Musk has been almost single-handedly running Twitter since he bought it in October for $US44 billion ($65 billion). He said early on that he didn’t plan to stay permanently as CEO and he has surrounded himself with a few trusted people, some of whom have suggested they’d be ready to take on what Musk calls a thankless task. “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor,” Musk tweeted earlier this week.
Wall Street calls for Musk to step down had been growing for weeks and recently even Tesla bulls have questioned his focus on the social media platform and whether that is distracting him from properly steering the electric vehicle business, where he is central to product design and engineering.
Among those who have remained in Musk’s inner circle are Jason Calacanis, an investor and podcaster, and former PayPal Holdings executive David Sacks. The two were part of Musk’s war room in the days after the deal closed and people familiar with the situation said they were given internal accounts and helped make decisions about who would keep their jobs. Both have been making public suggestions for Twitter’s business strategy.
Calacanis kept his ideas for monetising Twitter coming, advocating on Tuesday for features including a “poll analytics” link where information on Twitter poll results would be broken down by voter attribute, such as country and number of Twitter followers. Such insights are “well worth paying for,” he tweeted. On Monday, he talked up Twitter’s new business branding efforts.