Elon Musk's 10 biggest fails since the Twitter takeover

From lawsuits to poop emojis, the Tesla owner loves courting controversy

Tom Allen
clock • 16 min read
Elon Musk's 10 biggest fails since the Twitter takeover

Forced into an acquisition he didn't want to make, Elon Musk has spent his first year running Twitter as his own personal fiefdom. Here's a look at the 10 moves that led us to a world without the blue bird.

Elon Musk is a name guaranteed to raise eyebrows - and blood pressure. The world's richest person (at the time of writing) has been hailed as a genius - and also been accused of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. But is he the next Einstein, or just a less political Donald Trump?

1. It starts with X

First we have to look back to 1999, the time of the dot-com era and really naff tracksuits. This was when Musk first created X.com, merging it with fellow Palo Alto firm Confinity.

The brand name was a problem. Confinity had done extensive market testing to come up with the name of its online payment app, 'PayPal'. Musk appears to have chosen X because he loved his '[email protected]' email address. Despite that, Musk - after ousting CEO Bill Harris and installing himself in his place - insisted: X was the way forwards.

The name tested horribly. People thought it was a porn site, and focus groups routinely gave feedback saying they wouldn't trust "X.com". That didn't matter to Musk.

It came to a head when he left to go on honeymoon with his new wife, Justine. On the plane he learned that his co-founders, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, had submitted letters of no confidence, and the board had taken their side. Musk was out, and Thiel was in.

To add insult to injury, Paypal kept the X.com website. Musk wouldn't reclaim it until 2017.

Elon's love of the letter continues today; he named his son, born in 2020, X Æ A-Xii (that's "Ex Ae Eye Ae Twelve"). But three years later, "X" would turn out to be no more popular as a brand name than it was at the turn of the millennium.

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