Twitter Inc. users voted for Elon Musk to step down from his role as head of the social platform in a poll the billionaire entrepreneur said he would respect, a sharp rebuke of his chaotic tenure less than two months since he took over.
About 58 per cent of the 17.5 million votes cast were in favour of Musk stepping back from the leadership role, despite there being no clear successor.
If Musk heeds the results, it would mark the end of 53 chaotic days at the helm, which has involved dismissing top executives, eliminating roughly half of its employees and spooking advertisers.
Musk, who’s also CEO of Tesla Inc. and Space Exploration Technologies Corp., has dedicated much of his time since acquiring Twitter on October 27 to the social media service, drawing criticism for his abrupt policy changes and neglect of his other businesses. The stock of Tesla, his most valuable holding, has sunk by about a third since the acquisition.
It is not the first time Musk has put major corporate decisions to Twitter users. He recently conducted a poll of his followers on whether to reinstate Donald Trump’s Twitter account, and allowed him back the following day.
There is no clear replacement at Twitter, with almost all of the top rank executives having been fired or resigned over the past few months. Musk added in later tweets that “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive. There is no successor”, and “and it has been in the fast lane to bankruptcy since May”.
The threat that Twitter might veer into financial difficulties has been constant during Musk’s tenure, who in his first address to employees in November said bankruptcy was a possibility if it doesn’t start generating more cash. The company has almost $13 billion of debt that’s now in the hands of seven Wall Street banks that have been unable to offload it to investors.
Musk was in Qatar to watch the World Cup final match between Argentina and France and tweeted out his poll after the game’s conclusion. The billionaire has been looking for new investors at $54.20 a share, the same price he paid when he took the company private for $44 billion in October.
Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud is the second largest investor in Twitter behind Musk, while the Qatar Investment Authority invested $375 million in the social media platform.
Musk originally agreed to acquire Twitter in April but then spent months trying unsuccessfully to get out of the deal. After taking the top role, he indicated that he’d only be in charge of Twitter for a limited time to complete the organisational overhaul he thought it needed to prosper, and complained of having “too much work” and sleeping at Twitter’s San Francisco office while enforcing his radical changes.
Tesla shares gained 4.8 per cent in US premarket trading on Monday. Shares in the carmaker have slumped 57 per cent this year amid concerns the chaotic takeover of Twitter has distracted Musk from the firm that propelled him to the richest person in the world - a title he lost last week to luxury titan Bernard Arnault.