Elon Musk bonds with a chosen Twitter few on anniversary of '420' escapade

Tesla boss is now bidding to own the platform that transformed his profile

Elon Musk regularly interacts with only a few of his 82 million followers on Twitter. AP
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On April 20 every year, part of the internet lights up for Elon Musk. The Tesla founder is more willing than some – such as Donald Trump – to interact with followers and trolls on Twitter.

And on this date, he bonds with a chosen few of his fans on the platform. Known as 420 in America, it is a reference to one of the inventor's most notorious escapades. Critics allege that a series of tweets in 2018 about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share were written to manipulate the stock price, costing shareholders money.

The figure is linked to US slang for cannabis and triggered regulatory censure. Ordinarily, the South African-born magnate is known as one the world’s most savvy users of social media — sometimes sophisticated, sometimes not — but his conversations contribute to a devoted loyalty among his fans.

Among Mr Musk's army of 82 million Twitter followers are a relative few with whom he regularly interacts, often because they are customers, investors and influencers.

And most of them speak out supporting Tesla, its ambitions and products. It helps spread the word of Tesla and for the chosen few it is a bonding moment with their hero.

Pranay Pathole’s @Ppathole account has more than 125,000 followers. He has tweeted the Tesla chief repeatedly before gaining his attention for the first time in 2018. From Pune, India, he also fields requests to pitch business ideas to the magnate.

Omar Qazi is one of the people running @WholeMarsBlog, another of Mr Musk’s favourite Twitter accounts which has about 60,000 followers.

“The gravity of this guy and the impact he’s having in so many industries is so massive that you just get pulled in,” Mr Qazi said. “People are trying to attack you just for talking to him.”

Mr Qazi has been a vocal Tesla supporter since about 2018 and is also a customer.

There were “basically a lot of people, a lot of very smart and powerful and well-connected people, betting against Tesla”, he said.

German Vivien Hantusch was a student when she first managed to secure a podcast interview with Mr Musk to talk about Tesla.

Her @flcnhvy account had about 134,200 followers before it was deactivated. Videos posted online showed her with Mr Musk and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a factory opening last month.

Psychologist Earl Banning runs the @28delayslater with 70,100 followers. He is known for popularising a trend of taking photos of dogs on Tesla cars. Mr Musk was also tempted to share a photo.

“Once you’re kind of known as one of the people that Elon responds to, people want to follow you,” Mr Banning said.

Updated: May 03, 2022, 3:08 AM