Skip to main content

Elon Musk started looking for a new Twitter CEO before polling the site’s users

Elon Musk started looking for a new Twitter CEO before polling the site’s users


If you voted for Musk to step down as CEO of Twitter or to keep the job, it may not have mattered. It turns out the hunt for a replacement has been ‘ongoing’ for some time now.

Share this story

elon musk with question mark wallpaper
Illustration by Laura Normand / The Verge

That poll that Elon Musk posted to Twitter Sunday evening? Asking whether he should stay on as CEO of Twitter or appoint someone else? The one where he said he would “abide by the results” no matter how it turned out? The one where nearly 58 percent of participants said, yes, please step down already?

It was probably mostly meaningless. According to CNBC’s David Faber, whose reporting is pretty reliable on this kind of stuff, Musk has been actively searching for a replacement even before posting the poll. In fact, that search has been “ongoing,” Faber writes. How ongoing? Faber doesn’t say, but Musk hasn’t been exactly shy about describing his tenure at Twitter as only temporary.

Musk hasn’t been exactly shy about describing his tenure at Twitter as only temporary

Earlier this year, shortly after he made his initial bid for the company and before he had second thoughts and tried to get out of the deal, Musk reportedly disclosed to investors that he only expected to serve as Twitter’s CEO for a short period of time. (This was also based on Faber’s reporting, for what it’s worth.)

And more recently, he testified during a trial for a lawsuit challenging his pay package at Tesla that he didn’t really like being the CEO of any company, let alone Twitter. “I frankly don’t want to be the CEO of any company,” he said under oath. He went on to explain why he chafes at the title of CEO at his various companies, noting that he does not view his role as a traditional chief executive.

Of course, Musk is under increasing pressure from prominent Tesla investors to appoint a Twitter successor and re-devote himself to the electric car company that has been the primary driver of his success. Tesla’s stock price has continued to plummet, even as Musk has actively discussed finding a replacement, which suggests he and his investors are in for more pain down the road.

So who will Musk eventually pick? There are some obvious choices, including Jason Calacanis, David Sacks, and other lickspittles who were advising Musk in the early chaotic days of his acquisition (as opposed to the present chaos of banned journalist accounts and slapdash policies prohibiting users from sharing other social media accounts). CNN even threw Jared Kushner’s name in the mix, seemingly based solely on the fact that he was seen with Musk at the final World Cup match in Qatar.

Even so, Musk is likely inclined to go on letting Twitter users think they’ve had some say in the process because, fundamentally, he wants people to like him. And convincing them that their voice matters in a corporate decision that was likely determined long before @ModelS3XYBoi or anyone else voted in the poll is part of that illusion. It’s how he has run Tesla as well, responding to users’ complaints and suggestions on Twitter and turning them into real features in his electric vehicles.

So the poll may just be posturing, but the CEO search likely is not. Because wow, it sounds like it’s going really poorly! “No one wants the job who can actually keep Twitter alive,” he tweeted Sunday evening, soon after posting the poll. “There is no successor.”